By Zachary Leeman, a US-based journalist and author of the novel Nigh.
CNN’s Brian Stelter got plenty of attention when he lost it on air over “right-wing media” paying too much attention to Michael Flynn and not enough to Covid-19 – and ramming the message home by likening it to 9/11 “every day.”
“They’re treating the Michael Flynn story like it’s a bigger deal than the deaths of 2,000 Americans a day,” Stelter complained, about conservative outlets that have been covering news of charges against retired General Flynn being dropped.
Flynn, President Donald Trump’s original national security adviser, was the most prominent member of the administration to get caught up in the ‘Russiagate’ investigation. He was let go from his position in 2017 and pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, but the Justice Department has now dropped charges against Flynn after finding them to be without merit and following numerous reports about the questionable tactics the FBI used to get a confession.
Stelter doesn’t believe the story is worth all that much media coverage because the coronavirus should be taking precedence. The controversial CNN host tried to relay just how important the pandemic is, by comparing it to both the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US, as well as the New Orleans flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“It’s like New Orleans floods every day … It’s like the planes go into the towers every day.”
“It’s so disappointing to look at what we’re seeing from right-wing media these days, where there’s such an obsession with the deep state and these revelations about the Russia probe and the decision about Michael Flynn,” Stelter continued.
Stelter’s bizarre comparison between Flynn and the coronavirus has gotten the attention of even the president, who slammed the host as a “lapdog.”
Stelter may not feel like the exoneration of a retired general and former White House staff member is a big story – but maybe it’s because it derails the Russiagate narrative the host has been trying to push for years.
Multiple FBI documents have shown that the transcript of Flynn’s interview was edited and he was interrogated despite higher-ups in the agency having “no derogatory information” on the man. They also show investigators were purposefully trying to get Flynn to lie, despite knowing he was not guilty of a separate crime. The fact that an interview was conducted by none other than Peter Sztork, who bragged about the Russia investigation being an “insurance policy” against a Trump presidential victory, makes an already murky probe look even murkier.
Flynn’s specific ‘lie’ was that he supposedly misled the FBI about contact with the Russian Ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak. He said he did not discuss sanctions against Russia with the ambassador, but a transcript suggested he did.
Flynn pleaded guilty under advice from counsel and while also dealing with financial strains – he sold his house to pay for legal fees.
Stelter was once one of the many journalists at CNN covering the Russiagate investigation on an almost non-stop basis, so the fact that he would swipe away such a huge “scandal” –his words– stemming from the investigation screams more of an agenda than any concern about a pandemic, which is already covered endlessly in cable news segments and headlines.
To put Stelter’s words into more perspective, this is the same journalist who ran a report on First Lady Melania Trump “disappearing” after she had allegedly not been seen for over a week. The very-important segment ignored the fact that she was recovering from surgery and had actually been seen by a CNBC journalist only days before.
Stelter’s journalistic standards from there provide a rabbit hole of questionable decisions, including defending Jussie Smollett and interviewing celebrities posing as experts on everything from the Russia investigation (Robert De Niro) to the novel coronavirus (Stephen King).
Cool. Were you there that night? Smollett’s camp says he was the victim of a hate crime. The police dispute that. There isn’t video of the alleged attack. Thus, we may never know what really happened.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) March 26, 2019
Stelter being triggered by Flynn coverage speaks to a striking unwillingness of Trump critics in the mainstream media to exercise honest reporting when it comes to the Russia-collusion investigation. It was a story we could not hear enough about when the focus was on the president, and the ‘investigators’ were controlling the narrative, but now that the tables have turned and the bias of the probe has been laid bare, it’s suddenly not a story.
The Flynn news may shine a negative light on the FBI and the entire Russia-collusion investigation, but it is also putting a much-needed spotlight on the not-so-well-hidden agendas of reporters like Stelter.
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