'Misinformation' from Fox News helps shape Trump's views, CNN's Brian Stelter says

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Suzanne Smalley
·Reporter
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Senior Media Correspondent at CNN, Brian Stelter speak onstage at Day 1 of the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit 2018 at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on October 9, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter. (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

A sizable portion of the “misinformation” released by the Trump White House originates from stories that first appear on Fox News, CNN media critic Brian Stelter told Yahoo News on Monday.

“The Fox-Trump feedback loop is unlike anything we’ve seen in media before,” Stelter told the “Skullduggery” podcast in an interview. “There’s never been anything like this. ... He gets swamped by misinformation.”

While critics have decried Fox News as taking marching orders from the White House, it’s actually the network that tells Trump what to say, according to Stelter.

“This is crucial, to understand that a lot of what [Trump] is saying and claiming is coming straight from ‘Fox & Friends’ and is coming straight from the Tucker Carlson show. It’s not coming from the newscasts on Fox, it’s coming from the hard-right talk shows,” Stelter said. “I’ve had producers at the network confide in me and say, ‘We began to program our show knowing that Trump was watching. We used to pick our stories based on knowing he’s watching.’”

Stelter’s book “Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth” hit bookstores last week. Stelter said he decided to write the book after being flooded with phone calls from Fox News sources who are dismayed by the network’s relationship with the president and how it has affected coverage.

“A lot of people who confided in me said, ‘I was proud to work at a conservative-leaning channel — there needs to be a lot of room in the marketplace for this,’ and there should be,” Stelter said. “But as one anchor [at Fox] said, ‘We’re not right-leaning anymore. We have fallen over.’”

Stelter said his reporting suggests that if Roger Ailes were still running the network, Fox News would not be as beholden to the president as it has become. Ailes, who died in 2017, built Fox News into a television juggernaut but resigned in 2016 after numerous allegations of sexual harassment and assault from Fox staffers surfaced. Stelter called the allegations of abuse against Ailes “disgusting” but said only someone with Ailes’s power could have saved the network from going off the rails in a Trump presidency.

“Ailes, if he had still been at the network and if he were still alive, he would have stood up to Trump — at least some of the time,” Stelter said. “He did lead the network with an iron first, everybody knew what he wanted, and when he left there was a leadership vacuum and Trump filled it.”

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