Brian Stelter puts his foot in his mouth again

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

While everyone else was honoring the memory of the fallen on 9/11 in their own way, CNN anchor Brian Stelter elected to go onto Twitter and extol the virtues of the “real leaders” of the day when the attacks were taking place. That would be network news anchors, of course. Needless to say, this didn’t go over well.

As the Daily Mail reports, Stelter received all sorts of pushback on that. One of the earliest and most notable responses he received came from Meghan McCain.

CNN host Brian Stelter has been slammed for tweeting a claim that the ‘real leaders’ of 9/11 were news anchormen – and adding that ‘political leaders were in bunkers or out of sight’.

Stelter tweeted a quote from an article written by AP writer David Bauder, saying: ‘Network TV anchors were the closest thing that America had to national leaders on 9/11. They were the moral authority on that first day’… columnist and former host of The View, Meghan McCain was one of the first to criticize Stelter, saying: ‘I don’t know what this is even designed to mean other than to be incendiary on a dark anniversary’.

‘First responders led & ran into danger and died. Mayor Giuliani, Hillary Clinton, George Pataki, President Bush, Chuck Schumer…. there were many real leaders leading us,’ McCain tweeted in response to Stelter’s initial tweet.

Stelter later came back and lamely attempted to say that he was simply tweeting out an Associated Press article that made the same claim. It’s true that the article contained part of the text, but Stelter added his own commentary in his tweet, saying, ‘especially with political leaders in bunkers or otherwise out of sight’.

You can take issue with the AP article if you like, though it’s not all that surprising that they would pay tribute to the work being done by the network news shows during a very difficult time. But they were giving a tip of the hat to those anchors without throwing stones at anyone else. It was Stelter’s nasty little mind that decided to add the comment insinuating that elected officials were hiding in bunkers.

I still remember that day also. Officials in both New York City and Washington were being whisked away by security for one obvious reason. The terrorists were attacking at those locations. Plenty of outlets in New York and DC went dark, by the way. And who could blame them? The President had been in Florida participating in an event at an elementary school. Rather than going to a “bunker” he was put onboard Air Force One and he remained aloft for a long time.

The nastiness on display from Brian Stelter is so in character and on-brand for him that I debated whether or not to even cover this story today. I honestly still don’t understand how this guy still has a show on that network.

Being the weekend editor, I’m in my den working pretty much every Sunday morning and I generally have either CNN or Fox on in the background with the sound muted while I’m writing. That’s primarily so I can keep an eye on the chyron in case some big news breaks. But it’s gotten to the point where I can’t even leave his show on the screen with the sound off. Is it just me, or does it seem like Stelter plays more clips of shows from Fox News than you actually see on Fox News? He’s so obsessed with Fox that there’s little else he can find to talk about, even in the middle of a packed news cycle like the one we’re living through now. What value does he add to CNN’s portfolio?

I don’t expect any answers to those questions. Perhaps some things are better left unknown. But that performance on 9/11 just struck me as a low point even for Stelter.

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