Politics

CNN’s Stelter Claims Rockville Rape Coverage ‘Political’

'Reliable Sources' host avoids word 'illegal,' accuses competitor of pursuing agenda

CNN media analyst Brian Stelter blasted Fox News on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday for its extensive coverage last week of the rape of a 14-year-old teenager in Maryland by at least one illegal immigrant, claiming “it fit the political agenda of those pro-Trump hosts on Fox.”

Stelter, who once infamously wondered if President Donald Trump’s victory over former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was “a national emergency,” took issue with Fox News’ reporting on the alleged rape that occurred in Rockville High School on March 17. El Salvadoran Jose O. Montano, 17, and Guatemalan Henry E. Sanchez-Milian, 18, were charged with raping their classmate. Authorities confirmed that Sanchez-Milian was an illegal immigrant who was being considered for deportation prior to the assault.

“This week, the health care bill, the talks in the House, dominated cable news coverage all over the place. But Fox News also focused heavily on another story, and sometimes tying it to the President’s immigration agenda.”

“Rapes and assaults and murders are local news stories on a daily basis. But when do they break through to become national news and when do they not?” Stelter asked. “This week, the health care bill, the talks in the House, dominated cable news coverage all over the place. But Fox News also focused heavily on another story, and sometimes tying it to the president’s immigration agenda.”

Fox News extensively reported on the facts of the Rockville rape case and noted the suspect’s status as an illegal immigrant considered for deportation. The Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog, released a report noting that ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, and CBS ignored the story in their coverage. In his own reporting Sunday, Stelter failed to mention the word “illegal” and shied away from discussing the deportation element.

Even though Stelter admitted that it was a “sickening story from Rockville, Maryland, about an alleged rape at a school,” he criticized Fox News and host Tucker Carlson in particular, saying that “on Fox, all roads lead back to media bias.”

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Fox News host Bill O’Reilly expressed astonishment Wednesday at major news networks for snubbing the Rockville rape story.

“ABC, NBC, CBS did not cover it on their nightly news broadcasts,” O’Reilly said on “The O’Reilly Factor.” “CNN did not cover the Maryland story in prime time last night. Ditto MSNBC. That is beyond anything I have ever seen in my 40 years-plus of journalism.”

But Stelter dismissed O’Reilly, Carlson, and other Fox News hosts’ criticism of his network’s coverage.

“Now Fox chose to focus partly tying it to Trump’s immigration agenda. That was a story in Maryland. But there was another story with Maryland ties that got little to no news coverage anywhere on Fox or any other channels,” Stelter said before noting the case of an army veteran — an “alleged white supremacist” — who drove from Maryland to New York and attacked and killed a 66-year-old black man with a 26-inch knife.

Although Stelter remonstrated with Fox News for omitting coverage of that second story, he admitted that CNN hadn’t covered it, either. Stelter appeared to give CNN a pass on both charges, however.

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“But this story received almost no coverage on Fox or CNN or anywhere else for that matter. Another example of a crime but not a crime that fit the political agenda of those pro-Trump hosts on Fox,” Stelter said. “To me, this is an interesting example, because this rape case was covered virtually every hour according to a New York Times analysis on Fox but not on other big news channels.”

Although CNN didn’t seem to think the Rockville rape story worth covering until it could analyze Fox News’ extensive coverage of it, the case did garner national attention and raised a number of questions.

“Why is an 18-year-old man in a class with 13- or 14-year-old girls? Why was his status not known to those folks? Why was he allowed to enter the country after he was picked up for illegally crossing the border — both of them? So there are a lot of questions,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told FOX 5 Tuesday.

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