Brian Stelter Denies CNN Tries to Deplatform People

Brian Stelter
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for CNN

CNN media reporter Brian Stelter claimed Tuesday that his network does not attempt to “deplatform” people — i.e. to have them fired from media organizations, removed from social media platforms, or otherwise silenced.

The context was the ongoing controversy over President Donald Trump’s mockery of MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, suggesting that he be investigated for the 2001 death of staffer Lori Klausutis in his district office when he was a congressman.

Klausitis’s husband wrote to Twitter to ask that Trump’s tweets be taken down; Twitter declined but apologized to him.

Stelter then reported that Twitter is considering new “features and policies” to control such content in the future.

The following exchange then took place on Twitter, in which Stelter denied that CNN was celebrating Twitter’s decision — and went on to claim that CNN does not pressure other media companies to silence content or contributors:

Earlier this month, CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy complained that Fox News allowed The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway to appear on Special Report with Bret Baier. (Hemingway appears as part of panel discussions.)

In 2017, CNN threatened to publish the real name of a Reddit user who had posted a meme of Trump wrestling a man whose head had been replaced by the CNN logo. It only agreed not to publish his name unless he apologized.

In 2018, Darcy covered the “story” of why Alex Jones and InfoWars had not yet been kicked off Twitter and other social media platforms. When Twitter initially declined, Darcy opined that the company seemed not to have followed its own rules: “Twitter is one of the only major social media companies that has not taken any action against Jones or InfoWars in the last week.” The story reached its conclusion after Jones confronted Darcy on camera in the Capitol.

Darcy later told the Live from America podcast that he had been motivated to cover the story because, in his view, social media platforms allowed Jones and others to post “nonsense” and “hate speech.”

Asked whether Sarah Jeong of the New York Times was similarly guilty of “hate speech” for her past racist tweets, Darcy avoided the question.

Earlier this month, Darcy appeared on Stelter’s show, Reliable Sources, to suggest that President Trump be treated as InfoWars was: ““What is the difference at this point between Trump’s Twitter feed and Inforwars.com?” he asked. “Infowars might have been banned from Twitter, but it seems to have found a new home over at Trump’s Twitter feed.”

CNN’s “reporting” method in such cases appears to consist of raising complaints with social media organizations and asking them why they have not acted, until they do. It is less aimed at eliciting information than producing an outcome.

Also in 2018, CNN aired the first interview with Matt Rivitz of the Sleeping Giants organization, which tried to encourage advertisers to boycott Breitbart. (Recently, Rivitz’s colleague, Nandini Jammi, admitted that “keyword blacklisting,” a tactic Sleeping Giants had encouraged companies to use to be more selective about where their ads appeared, resulted in a decline in news advertising during the coronavirus pandemic,  and job losses for journalists.)

More recently, Stelter said that CNN and other networks should only run the president’s briefings on the coronavirus pandemic on a delay, so that journalists could correct “bogus information” before returning to the live television feed.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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