CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter showered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, with praise after she tore up her copy of President Trump's State of the Union address, calling the move an "effective" way to steal the spotlight from the president.
"It was unprecedented behavior for a speaker, aggressively rude and unapologetically meant to rile up her base. It was divisive, but effective," Stelter wrote in a report on Wednesday. "It took the Democrats three years, but they may have finally figured out how to control a news cycle in the Trump era."
Stelter pointed to several examples of headlines and commentary as proof as Pelosi "hijacking attention" in the media.
"Ripping up a piece of paper is only a big story if members of the media decide to make it a big story, and if members of the public respond by reading and watching and reacting," Stelter continued. "Whether these attention-grabbing tactics are in the best interest of the country, well, that's a debate that requires more than one TV segment worth of time. Producers would rather move on to the next controversy instead."
The Hill media reporter Joe Concha insisted that such a "partisan opinion piece" would "never see the light of day" if a Republican House speaker took similar actions against a Democratic president, explaining that it would be "condemned in the most self-righteous of terms as another example of toxicity with a call for a return to civility."
"[I'm] old enough to remember Joe Wilson shouting, 'You lie!' at President Obama over Obamacare at the State of the Union. The press was outraged at such horrific decorum. Today, Pelosi is celebrated a genius meme creator who has successfully hijacked the news cycle from people asking about incomplete results in Iowa, as one example. It's amusing as it is predictable," Concha told Fox News.
Concha also pointed to a CBS News poll that showed that 97 percent of Republicans and 82 percent of independents approved of Trump's State of the Union address, asking if that was included in Stelter's analysis, which he added, "Of course not."
NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck slammed Stelter for "parroting liberal gripes" about Trump's address, insisting to Fox News that CNN was "thrilled" by Pelosi's actions.
"There was no way Brian was going to stop with the words 'divisive' and 'aggressively rude, which are both correct. He couldn't help but add that positive connotation before all but justifying it and parroting liberal gripes about the speech being little more than a tale of lies. Of course, CNN was thrilled by this move, giving them an exit ramp to avoid talking about the president's speech as a serious, substantive matter that attempted to pull in independent and even Democratic voters who might have otherwise written him off for this election," Houck said.