It has been a rough 48 hours for liberal CNN media pundit Brian Stelter, who is facing backlash for blaming technical issues after remaining stone silent on Sunday when a guest on his ratings-challenged program claimed President Trump is responsible for more deaths than brutal dictators Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong.
“Trump is as destructive a person in this century as Hitler, Stalin, Mao were in the last century. He may be responsible for many more million deaths than they were,” psychiatrist Dr. Allen Frances told Stelter on Sunday.
The CNN host didn’t interrupt or challenge the comment, and Stelter has been widely criticized throughout the media industry for his handling of the incident, for which he blamed technical issues.
Conservative news source The Reagan Battalion called the segment “shameful” and asked Stelter why he didn’t correct Frances on the spot.
“I agree that I should have interrupted after that line. I wish I had heard him say it, but I was distracted by tech difficulties,” Stelter responded on Twitter. “Not hearing the comment is my fault.”
Several cable news insiders have since pointed out that if Stelter did miss the over-the-top comment, then a CNN producer should have immediately notified him. As a result, cable news watchdog Mediaite named Stelter its “loser” of the day and the backlash didn't end there.
The Blaze media critic Rob Eno wrote that he’s “not buying” Stelter’s excuse.
“That would be believable if Stelter hadn’t spent the last three years telling us that Trump was a threat to established norms and that the media should talk about Trump’s mental state,” Eno wrote. “Frances’ characterization is exactly the path Stelter wanted to go down, because it fits his agenda.”
The Hill media reporter Joe Concha appeared on “Hannity” on Monday night to address the situation.
"That psychiatrist that was booked by Stelter yesterday has a long history on social media of anti-Trump tweets -- things even more unhinged than saying that the president is responsible for more deaths than Mao and Stalin and Hitler," Concha said. "This is the narrative that Brian Stelter wanted to push. It is intentional. It is shameful, it is reckless and it is horrible for this profession."
Concha noted that CNN promoted the segment on social media “as if they were proud” and Sean Hannity added he feels Stelter – who is currently working on a book about Fox News' relationship with President Trump -- is "obsessed with hating Trump and Fox News."
Fox News’ Mark Levin called Stelter a “sick little b-----d” and a “punk,” while Greg Gutfeld ridiculed the CNN host’s excuse.
"After some outcry, CNN’s Brian Stelter admitted he should have hit back, blaming his meekness on tech issues, which I’d believe if his network hadn’t spent three years priming their guests for this kind of hysteria,” Gutfeld said Monday on “The Five.”
Fox News contributor Dan Bongino echoed the thoughts of cable news insiders during a Monday appearance on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
“There are producers in your ear,” Bongino said. “When something like that happens, they could get in your ear and say ‘you might want to cut this short.’ Nobody did that, so if he was having technical problems somebody heard him because he was still on the air. Why was nobody stopping him short? The reason is, Stelter’s lying.”
CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The satirical Babylon Bee even took notice and published a story mocking CNN’s media pundit with a fictitious quote about the network’s ratings being in the tank because Trump is “killing off most of America by the millions.”
The Babylon Bee added that “airports, lobbies, waiting rooms, and gas station pumps are now playing CNN to absolutely no one” because Trump has gotten rid of potential viewers.
Others took to Twitter to mock Stelter's logic behind allowing a guest to spew misinformation.
Writer Bryan Dean Wright noted that Trump has “has held back on greater involvement in Syria, canceled airstrikes in Iran, and worked feverishly to secure peace w/ North Korea” and said “these are not the actions of a man in competition with Hitler, Stalin, or Mao.”
Donald Trump Jr. added, “The only thing ‘Reliable’ about Stelter is that he is reliably a leftwing hack.”
Social media strategist Caleb Hull called Stelter “literally the worst liar” in the media industry.
“He’s like a toddler trying to make up an excuse to his parents about why all the cookies disappeared,” Hull wrote.
Thousands of other users poked fun at the situation on social media but Stelter’s show, “Reliable Sources,” has other issues in addition to the criticism surrounding its host's latest gaffe.
The liberal network’s Sunday morning media program has been hemorrhaging viewers, particularly among the key demographic of adults age 25-54. “Reliable Sources” averaged only 137,000 viewers in the demo during the second quarter of 2019, a 42 percent drop from Q2 of 2018 when it averaged 235,000.
“Reliable Sources” isn’t only struggling among demo viewers, it also shed 21 percent of its total audience to finish Q2 with a dismal average of only 640,000 total viewers.
Things haven’t gotten much better during the third quarter as “Reliable Sources” averaged only 612,000 viewers in July compared to 1.2 million for Fox News’ “Media Buzz,” which is its direct timeslot competition. Stelter missed two episodes during the month of August while out on paternity leave, a month that saw total viewership tick up to an average of 806,000.
NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck has made a career out of spotlighting liberal bias in the mainstream media and he thinks the far-left political views of Stelter are keeping viewers away.
“Unless you're someone who works at CNN, looking to be retweeted by Brian, someone calling out their bias like NewsBusters, or a woke journalism professor, there's zero reason anyone should be watching this show,” Houck told Fox News.
“Brian epitomizes a head-in-the-sand mentality about why people don't trust the media. If Brian could live in a perfect world, the media would be even more liberal and anti-Trump,” Houck added.