Politics

CNN’s Brian Stelter Urges Fox News to ‘Do Some Soul-Searching’ After Synagogue Killings

So a liberal network is off the hook — but the president and a conservative channel need to 'think about their role' amid violence?

Image Credit: nrkbeta, Flickr & Shutterstock

CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter dished out some advice to Fox News hosts and commentators on Tuesday during the show “New Day.”

He said they should “think about their role” and conduct “soul-searching” because of the role he insisted they played in this past Saturday’s horrific massacre in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“So we can talk about fear-mongering, we can talk about the ridiculousness of this rhetoric, but it is effective among some people,” Stelter (pictured above) said.

“I sure hope some of those Fox hosts, some of those commentators, take a moment, take a minute to think about their role in this environment. Hopefully there is some soul-searching right now in the wake of this massacre,” he added.

Eleven people were killed and others were wounded after suspect Robert D. Bowers, 46, opened fire at the Tree of Life synagogue. Four police officers were among those shot; the attack became the deadliest on the Jewish community in U.S. history.

The shooting occurred several days after suspect Cesar Sayoc mailed a string of suspicious packages with crude explosive devices to prominent Democrats and to CNN’s New York City bureau.

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It didn’t take long for many in the mainstream media to pin some blame for the bomb threats and the synagogue shooting on President Donald Trump because of his tough political rhetoric and criticism of fake news.

But it’s ironic Stelter is partially blaming Fox News — as he and his network have refused to accept any blame for the divisive political climate and are outraged any time their own outlet’s partisan coverage is criticized.

He wrote a piece called “Pittsburgh suspect echoed talking point that dominated Fox News airwaves.” He noted that Bowers used the word “invaders” to describe immigrants six days before the massacre.

“While there is no such invasion happening, this rhetoric has blanketed right-wing media in relation to the Central American migrant caravan that’s been in the news this month,” Stelter wrote. “And Bowers apparently noticed.”

Because Bowers noted a word that Fox News hosts and commentators used to describe the migrants trekking toward the U.S., Stelter suggested the shooting was partially Fox News’ fault as well as Trump’s — since Trump has also mentioned an “invasion.”

He insisted Trump is “trying to limit his losses in the midterms by saying two things: Number one, hate the media; number two, fear the caravan.” And Fox News personalities push those same messages, he added.

After he urged Fox News to conduct “soul-searching,” “New Day” co-anchor Alisyn Camerota sneered, “Brian, do you have a fever right now? I mean, what are you thinking? What are you thinking? They like ratings. They like winning the ratings war. That’s what this is about.”

Co-anchor John Berman joked that Fox News host Jeanine Pirro “may want to lay off the coffee.”

Other media members also blamed the channel as well as Trump, in part, for the synagogue massacre.

CNN’s Chris Isidore tweeted, “The ‘invasion’ that exists only on Fox News, other right wing media is what prompted Pittsburgh suspect to gun down 11 innocent people. Once again, words matter. Analysis by @brianstelter on what should prompt soul searching at Fox but probably won’t.”

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper said Monday that Trump “should know that people are listening, and worse, some are acting on what they hear.”

Camerota even wondered Tuesday, “Why are we still debating whether or not a president of the United States’ words have any impact? And why are we still debating whether or not inflammatory words lead to hostility, which lead to violent actions? History books are filled with this continuum and this rhetoric.”

Camerota also decried the “what-about-ism” that “the White House and the Republicans keep using” when claiming Trump doesn’t bear any responsibility for the bomb threats or the synagogue shooting — just like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) doesn’t bear any responsibility for the supporter of his who gunned down House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) last year and targeted GOP lawmakers at a baseball practice.

“If Bernie Sanders had said, ‘I sure hate Republican baseball players and I wish somebody would body-slam them,’ then he should receive blame,” Camerota insisted.

CNN President Jeff Zucker actually blamed Trump and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders for the bomb threats last week, saying in a statement, “There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media.”

“The president, and especially the White House press secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that,” Zucker added.

Related: Sanders Clashes with CNN’s Acosta, Other Hostile Reporters in Briefing

Sanders said Monday it was “outrageous” and “irresponsible of a news organization like yours to blame” both Trump and his administration “for those heinous acts.”

“The very first thing that the president did was condemn the attacks, both in Pittsburgh and in the pipe bombs. The very first thing the media did was blame the president and make him responsible for these ridiculous acts,” Sanders said.

“That is outrageous that that would be the very first reaction of so many people across this country. The only persons responsible for carrying out either of these heinous acts were the individuals who carried them out,” Sanders added.

On Twitter, the CNN Communications account rejected Sanders’ defense, writing, “No @PressSec, CNN did not say @realDonaldTrump was directly responsible for the bomb sent to our office by his ardent and emboldened supporter. We did say that he, and you, should understand your words matter. Every single one of them. But so far, you don’t seem to get that.”

Although CNN reporters and commentators insisted Trump and Fox News are partially to blame for the suspicious packages and the shooting, which targeted Jewish-Americans, they refuse to own any share in the blame for the bitterly partisan and divisive political environment following the 2016 presidential election.

“The Fake News is doing everything in their power to blame Republicans, Conservatives and me for the division and hatred … Actually, it is their Fake & Dishonest reporting which is causing problems far greater than they understand!” Trump tweeted Sunday.

“There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame … of Anger and Outrage and we will then be able to bring all sides together in Peace and Harmony. Fake News Must End!” Trump added Monday.

(photo credit, homepage and article images: Brian Stelter, CC BY-SA 2.0, Cut Out/Cropped/Collage, by nrkbeta)

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