CNN's Brian Stelter wants networks to change how they air Trump's coronavirus briefings

Suzanne Smalley
·Reporter
·2 min read
Brian Stelter and a frame from HBO's "After Truth". Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: HBO, Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
Brian Stelter and a frame from HBO's "After Truth." (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: HBO, Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Brian Stelter, CNN’s chief media correspondent, says that news networks — including his own — should run President Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings on a slight delay so they can jump in and correct any misinformation.

“A great example of this is the president recently saying that everybody who flies or takes a train gets tested when they leave and when they arrive ... which is obviously untrue,” Stelter told “Skullduggery,” a Yahoo News podcast. “We would then ... pause the briefing, come on, explain that that’s not true and then resume the briefing.”

Whether networks should cover the president’s coronavirus briefings has been the subject of much debate among journalists. Trump has repeatedly made statements during the briefings that don’t stand up to scrutiny, a fact that even the administration’s own experts admit.

Stelter said he believes that viewers should still see the briefings even when Trump is spreading inaccurate information. He argues that networks can contend with the president’s “bogus information” if they put the briefings on a delay and fact-check them for viewers.

“Trump has broken the news system because he has found ways to go out there, get attention, say a lot of things that are untrue and confuse the public,” Stelter said. He added that he understands that the fact-checks he proposes might come across as adversarial, but that Trump’s falsehoods cannot go unquestioned.

“We just have to keep saying over and over again: We’re the advocate for the viewer, we’re not the advocate for the president or the Democrats ... and we just want to get as close to the truth as possible every day while knowing we’re not always going to get it perfect.”

Stelter said he is pestered by “trolls” on social media who note that he and other journalists used to criticize the White House’s refusal to hold daily press briefings. But Stelter says that what he wants is “frequent and accurate briefings,” not ones full of “mis- and disinformation.”

“When there are falsehoods and ludicrous statements made at briefings,” Stelter said, “we’ve got to call that out.”

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