Former CNN host Soledad O’Brien went on the attack against Brian Stelter yesterday after Stelter compared public impeachment hearings to a television show or a hit podcast.

“I also think, episode one so to speak, matters a lot, and I hate to say that because we’re talking about basic democracy at risk here. But from a television perspective, Democrats have to come out strong in that first episode,” Stelter said Sunday on CNN. “For the same reason when we’re watching Netflix or listening to a new podcast, we only choose to keep listening if we’re interested in episode one.”

Stelter went on to say, “I think the Democrats know that but I’ll be interested to see what kind of show they put on on Wednesday morning trying to hook people.” CNN’s Ana Cabrera tweeted out a clip of Stelter’s remarks and O’Brien reacted calling the remarks “Cillizza-level inanity.”

Stelter replied to O’Brien by claiming he was just repeating what a “House leadership aide” had said. O’Brien replied that just because a Democrat said it didn’t make it right:

This is one of those situations where I genuinely wish everyone involved could lose the argument. I think they ultimately do all come off looking bad for various reasons. First of all, it’s true that one of Stelter’s colleagues reported the quote about the first hearing needing to be a blockbuster the day before his TV appearance. Stelter didn’t say on air that he was getting his take from someone close to House leadership. Instead he passed it off as his own insight, even saying “I think the Democrats know that” when he actually knew for a fact this was coming directly from within the Democratic camp.

So why didn’t Stelter put this awkward claim in the mouth of Democrats until he was challenged? He almost apologizes for saying it himself, so he clearly is aware there is a chance the point would create some blowback and that’s what happened. What we often see with Stelter is that he responds to criticism of Democrats as if he’s been stung and tries to twist the story into one about Republicans seizing on negative information. In this case, maybe he just thought it was better he not give Republicans the opportunity to seize on the fact that Democrats are taking a very cynical approach to this.

As for O’Brien, she was right about how stupid this approach is to a serious topic but I doubt she would ever have commented if she’d known where this was coming from. Once she finds herself out on a limb she’s stuck taking a principled stand in public but that’s the end of it. She’s not about to take the obvious step of accusing the impeachment chorus of House Democrats of being “stupid about important sh*t.” Instead she’ll just pretend, for no reason at all, that this leadership aide must be wrong about what Dems are thinking and doing.