CNN has been rocked with a series of negative headlines, including anchor Jake Tapper getting caught urging a popular Republican not to challenge an incumbent Democrat for a House seat, CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker offering advice to President Trump’s former lawyer prior to the 2016 election, and the ongoing controversy surrounding the network’s coverage of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose brother Chris Cuomo is a primetime host on the network.
Stelter, CNN’s in-house media critic, is regularly accused of overlooking controversies related to his network, but was pressed on recent issues by “The View” co-host Meghan McCain.
“There are some ethical questions that are being thrown around about CNN lately,” McCain said. “There is 2016 audio of your president Jeff Zucker offering debate advice to President Trump that was released, Jake Tapper was recently caught, allegedly, trying to influence a congressional election and I had serious problems with the way Chris Cuomo has a recurring primetime, sort of comic routine with his brother instead of asking about policies that were literally sending my friend Janice Dean’s relatives to die in nursing homes. So, with the criticism of CNN, do you believe that this is acceptable?”
Stelter responded that McCain should “write a book” because she was able to rattle off so many negative CNN storylines before essentially dismissing the question.
“A lot of them are cherry picked... but look, I’m not a spokesperson for CNN, it’s not for me to comment on these,” Stelter said.
“Here is what I do think is sad, though. I think it’s sad that private conversations get leaked out, get distorted and then, you know, they become polarized and weaponized,” Stelter continued. “That’s the environment we’re in and that’s sad. You know, if our text messages or if my phone calls with friends were suddenly taken out of context and distorted... let me put it this way, I think the Trump age has ruined a lot of friendships. I think that’s really sad.”
Stelter then proclaimed he hopes “we can start to rebuild those friendships” instead of battling people with opposing views.
It was unclear what messages Stelter feels were “distorted,” as Zucker was heard offering advice to then-Trump attorney Michael Cohen during a March 10, 2016, conversation and Tapper admitted in a direct message to GOP congressional candidate Sean Parnell that he tried to convince Parnell not to run against incumbent Democrat Rep. Conor Lamb last year.
As for the Cuomo brothers, they were widely mocked in May when the Democratic governor appeared on his little brother’s show amid an ongoing nursing-home controversy in New York.
Cuomo, a Democrat, had recently reversed a March 25 order that forced nursing homes to accept patients who tested positive for coronavirus, despite testing deficiencies for both residents and staff. Cuomo signed an executive order on May 11 stopping hospitals from sending infected patients back to nursing homes and ramping up testing for staff.
At the time, roughly 5,800 people had died from COVID-19 in nursing homes in New York. But when the governor appeared on “Cuomo Prime Time” on May 20, the issue was not raised and the brothers performed prop comedy instead.
"Is it true that this was the swab that the nurse was actually using on you?" the primetime host asked his brother about his own COVID-19 test while holding an oversized cotton swab.
He then quickly followed by presenting him an even larger cotton swab, asking the governor if that was the one the nurse used on him in an apparent joke about the size of the governor's nose.
Earlier this week, McCain also blasted CNN over its coverage of the ongoing violence that has plagued cities nationwide.
"I think that the media, particularly CNN, has done a real disservice by trying to downplay the violence so much," she said.
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.