Brian Stelter is supposedly CNN’s chief media correspondent, or at least that’s what it says in his Twitter bio.
But over the course of 2021, many of the biggest media stories failed to receive any airtime on his poorly watched Sunday media program “Reliable Sources.”
CNN’s left-wing lackey spent much of the year harping on social media companies to crack down on so-called “disinformation,” complaining about the influence conservative outlets have as elite news organizations like his own network continue to lose control over how Americans get their news.
While doing so, however, Stelter turned a blind eye to many headlines that were far from flattering to his liberal allies in the industry. Most famously, he completely avoided ABC News’ shocking coverup of the Jeffrey Epstein scandal, omitting it from his “top ten media stories” of 2019.
So as 2021 comes to a close, stroll down memory-hole lane and revisit some of the biggest media controversies Stelter chose not to cover on his “Reliable Sources” program, even if they got short shrift in his newsletter.
Judge bans MSNBC from the Kyle Rittenhouse trial
The entire nation was intensely monitoring the trial of teenager Kyle Rittenhouse, who was charged with murdering two people amid the Kenosha riots following the 2020 police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake.
But the day before Rittenhouse was acquitted on all counts, Judge Bruce Schroeder made headlines by barring MSNBC from the courthouse after police caught a freelance NBC News producer following the jury bus when he ran a red light.
Stelter swept the controversy plaguing CNN’s closest liberal competitor under the rug.
Judge Bruce Schroeder speaks to the attorneys about how the jury will view evidence as they deliberate during Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool) (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)
MSNBC is rarely talked about on “Reliable Sources,” appearing in transcripts just 34 times in 2021 versus the whopping 695 times Fox News has been mentioned, according to Grabien search results.
Joy Reid, for example, has not been mentioned once by Stelter despite her constant inflammatory rhetoric. The so-called “media reporter” even avoided the MSNBC star when she got into a viral spat with rapper superstar Nicki Minaj over the artist’s vaccine hesitancy.
Stelter also ignored the backlash MSNBC analyst and New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay received when she said the sight of American flags on the back of trucks while visiting Long Island was “disturbing,” which escalated to the point that the Times issued a statement defending her over the summer.
There seems to be a mutual respect between the two liberal networks as MSNBC offers little to no coverage of any controversy that occurs at CNN.
Trump-era media narratives that fell apart
In March, the media pundit avoided the Washington Post’s major correction to its bombshell January report about a phone call between then-President Donald Trump and a Georgia elections investigator, urging her to “find the fraud” and that she would be a “national hero” if she did, which turned out to be not true.
The CNN star had nothing to say about the collapsed narrative alleging Trump ordered Lafayette Square Park to be cleared of protesters so he could pose in front of the riot-torched St. John’s Church last year. An inspector general investigation concluded U.S. Park Police and the U.S. Secret Service deemed it necessary to remove protestors from the park in order to install anti-scale fencing.
The Washington Post issues stunning corrections on articles involving the Steele dossier
Another dismantled media narrative Stelter refrained from mentioning was the credibility of the infamous Steele dossier amid the fallout from the ongoing Durham probe.
Details from the November indictment of Christopher Steele’s primary sub-source Igor Danchenko, who was accused of lying to the FBI, led to a series of corrections from The Washington Post.
The Washington Post corrected its coverage of Christopher Steele’s infamous dossier after the indictment of Igor Danchenko. (Reuters/Getty Images)
The first two stories, published in March 2017 and February 2019, were changed when the newspaper’s executive editor, Sally Buzbee, said she could no longer stand by their accuracy. The Post added editor’s notes, amended headlines, removed sections identifying Sergei Millian as the source and deleted an accompanying video summarizing the articles.
Lengthy editor’s notes were additionally placed on at least 14 other articles.
The Steele dossier helped fuel the Trump-Russia collusion conspiracy for years and dominated CNN and MSNBC’s coverage.
The New York Times forced to admit Babylon Bee is not ‘misinformation’
The Babylon Bee scored a major victory against The New York Times after the paper falsely characterized the conservative satirical site as “misinformation.”
In March, the Times ran a report about Facebook’s efforts to crack down on misinformation and that satire shared on the platform was swept up in the process.
However, the report went out of its way to attack the Bee, labeling it a “far-right misinformation site” that “sometimes trafficked in misinformation under the guise of satire.”
New York, USA – September 27, 2019: The New York Times Headquarters in Midtown Manhattan. Located on 8th Ave it was completed in 2007 by the famous italian architect Renzo Piano. (iStock)
In April, Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon revealed he was considering taking legal action against the Times, telling Fox News, “They’re using misinformation to smear us as being a source of misinformation. They are, in fact, the ones trafficking in misinformation under the guise of journalism.”
The legal threat appeared to have worked when the Times issued a correction in June reversing its characterization of the Bee.
“An earlier version of this article referred imprecisely to the Babylon Bee, a right-leaning satirical website, and a controversy regarding the handling of its content by Facebook and the fact-checking site Snopes. While both Facebook and Snopes previously have classified some Babylon Bee articles as misinformation, rather than satire, they have dropped those claims, and the Babylon Bee denies that it has trafficked in misinformation,” the correction read.
The Bee, which routinely skewers CNN, did not receive any mention on “Reliable Sources.”
Don Lemon’s texts emerge during the Jussie Smollett trial
Former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett shocked the nation in 2019 when he claimed he was the victim of a vicious hate crime in Chicago, which the national media hyped while offering little to no skepticism. It wasn’t long before Chicago Police Department suspected Smollett had orchestrated a hoax.
Nearly three years later, Smollett stood trial and was ultimately convicted on five counts of disorderly conduct.
However, before the verdict was in, Smollett revealed during his testimony that he was tipped off about the CPD’s doubts into his claims by his pal, CNN anchor Don Lemon.
Don Lemon and Jussie Smollett (Getty Images)
Smollett testified that he received a text from Lemon, supposedly relaying information that the CPD didn’t believe the actor’s account of what happened.
While Lemon himself failed to acknowledge his own involvement in the Smollett trial while covering it on his program, neither did Stelter.
The turmoil of The Lincoln Project
Stelter managed to go the entire year without once mentioning any of the controversies that plagued The Lincoln Project.
The Lincoln Project, the anti-Trump PAC that became a media darling during the 2020 election cycle, was immediately engulfed in scandal in January when news broke that co-founder John Weaver was accused of sexually harassing over 20 young men online. One was 14 when Weaver first contacted him with inappropriate messages.
Weaver’s former colleagues all denied they had knowledge of his predatory behavior, but subsequent reports alleged the other co-founders were aware as early as January 2020, just one month after the Lincoln Project launched. Weaver resigned and has since vanished from public view.
Questions were also raised about the group’s shady financial dealings and suggestions the millions of dollars raised from the #Resistance went to line the pockets of its founders rather than being spent to defeat Trump.
Lincoln Project co-founders Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson, George Conway and John Weaver.
The marathon of controversies sparked an exodus among the group’s prominent leaders and even calls from co-founder George Conway, who had left the group in 2020, to be shut down.
However, the Lincoln Project was able to weather the storm and managed to keep the lights on thanks to the lack of media coverage its scandals received.
More recently, Stelter failed to address the Lincoln Project’s widely panned race stunt it took credit for in the days leading up to the Virginia gubernatorial election. In a move that co-founder Steve Schmidt even condemned as “recklessly stupid,” the Lincoln Project sent five people – one of them a Black man – to dress as Tiki-torch bearing White nationalists in front of Republican Glenn Youngkin’s campaign bus in Charlottesville, in what was viewed as a desperate smear effort to liken his supporters to racists.
USA Today allows Stacey Abrams to stealth-edit column to water down past support for Georgia boycott
This spring, Georgia was at the center of an intense national debate over its election reform legislation that was signed into law after the 2020 election with prominent Democrats calling it racist and comparing it to “Jim Crow.” A movement to boycott the Peach State was ignited and one of its backers appeared to be Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
In an op-ed published by USA Today in March 31, Abrams argued that boycotts were an effective form of protest, writing, “The impassioned response to the racist, classist bill that is now the law of Georgia is to boycott in order to achieve change.”
But after Major League Baseball announced it was moving its All-Star Game out of Atlanta, Abram’s op-ed went through a stunning transformation, watering down her support for boycotts historically without issuing any editor’s note acknowledging the changes.
A spokesperson for Gannett, USA Today’s parent company, told Fox News, “We regret the oversight in updating the Stacey Abrams column. As soon as we recognized there was no editor’s note, we added it to the page to reflect her changes. We have reviewed our procedures to ensure this does not occur again.”
The journalistic malpractice was ultimately ignored by CNN’s media hall monitor.
Joe Rogan’s explosive interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Perhaps the most talked-about interview podcast giant Joe Rogan conducted in 2021 was with CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Rogan, who has long been the target of the legacy media critical of his COVID-19 commentary that doesn’t parrot the same talking points, announced that he tested positive for the virus and listed several treatments, including ivermectin, to treat his illness.
However, several CNN anchors and commentators went all-in pushing a false narrative that he had taken “horse de-wormer” or a “livestock drug” instead of the common human form of ivermectin that was prescribed to him by a doctor.
Rogan confronted Gupta about his network’s gross coverage of him, eventually forcing the uncomfortable CNN star to admit his colleagues shouldn’t have described his use of ivermectin the way they did.
The exchange went viral, capturing over 6 million views on Twitter.
CNN doubled down on its false coverage of Rogan, issuing a statement saying, “The only thing CNN did wrong here was bruise the ego of a popular podcaster who pushed dangerous conspiracy theories and risked the lives of millions of people in doing so.”
Gupta was championed by his CNN colleagues, one even calling him a “prince,” for being brave enough to enter what he described as the “lion’s den.” However, while the combative exchange itself was overlooked by various CNN anchors, Stelter completely ignored Gupta’s interview with Rogan entirely.
Rolling Stone, MSNBC stars peddle false narrative of ivermectin overdoses overwhelming Oklahoma hospitals
In September, the liberal media amplified a wild story about Oklahoma hospitals being overwhelmed by ivermectin overdoses so much so that “gunshot victims” weren’t able to be treated.
The story stemmed from a local KFOR report, which spun remarks from a doctor who unbeknownst to uncritical journalists who fueled the narrative was no longer employed by the hospital system in question. The hospital system fully rejected the doctor’s claims that it had to turn away patients.
Rolling Stone helped make the story go viral, running the sensational headline, “Gunshot Victims Left Waiting as Horse Dewormer Overdoses Overwhelm Oklahoma Hospitals, Doctor Says.” Other outlets like New York Daily News, Newsweek, The Guardian and Insider also amplified the false narrative.
Rachel Maddow shared the KFOR report to her 10 million Twitter followers using the headline, “Patients overdosing on ivermectin backing up rural Oklahoma hospitals, ambulances” as well as a quote from the article, “‘The scariest one I’ve heard of and seen is people coming in with vision loss,’ he said.”
Meanwhile, Maddow’s colleague Joy Reid took the false narrative to MSNBC’s airwaves.
“So things are clearly bad but they’re being made even worse by the people who have refused to take the vaccine and are instead swallowing horse paste,” Reid told her viewers. “The emergency room in one Oklahoma town is being overwhelmed by people overdosing on ivermectin, the horse deworming medication. It’s gotten so bad that gunshot victims, gunshot victims, are having to wait to be treated.”
Rolling Stone issued an “update” to its report after the Oklahoma hospital system set the record straight. Critics panned the liberal magazine for not fully retracting its story.
Maddow eventually followed up her initial tweet and linked to a report, writing, “Two OK hospitals have chimed in on this now — one saying they’ve had ivermectin patients in their ER ‘adding to the congestion’ caused by COVID, another saying they haven’t.” However, her original viral tweet was never taken down.
Reid never issued an on-air correction.
None of this appeared to be a concern for Stelter, who only panics about right-wing “disinformation.”
New York Times sports reporter ousted after failing to disclose book deal with Michael Phelps
New York Times sports reporter Karen Crouse landed herself in hot water in July for failing to disclose the book deal she made with Michael Phelps while she herself was covering the Olympic swimmer.
In June, Crouse authored a glowing piece that painted the 23-time gold medalist in a highly positive light with multiple tidbits about Phelps mentoring youth athletes.
But a month after the piece was initially published, it was updated with a scathing editor’s note.
“After this article was published, editors learned that the reporter had entered an agreement to co-write a book with Michael Phelps. If editors had been aware of the conflict, the reporter would not have been given the assignment,” the editor’s note read.
The New York Times is investigating sports reporter Karen Crouse after she failed to disclose a book deal with Michael Phelps when she covered the Olympic swimming legend for the paper, (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
“Our guidelines state that no staff member may serve as a ghost writer or co-author for individuals who figure or are likely to figure in coverage they provide, edit, package or supervise,” a New York Times spokesperson told Fox News. “As the editors’ note makes clear, the arrangement was a conflict of interest. This was a significant lapse in judgment. We are reviewing this matter and will take appropriate action once the investigation has concluded.”
After initially being suspended, Crouse announced weeks later she was leaving the Times after 16 years with the paper.
The controversy received no on-air mention by Stelter, a former media reporter for the Times.
USA Today botches fact-check claiming Biden didn’t check his watch during dignified transfer ceremony
Stelter typically reveres fact-checks conducted by his media allies, but there was one in particular that mysteriously never reached the “Reliable Sources” radar.
President Biden was scolded by Gold Star families after he was caught repeatedly checking his watch during a dignified transfer ceremony at Dover Air Force Base in honor of the 13 U.S. service members who were killed in a terrorist attack outside the Kabul airport amid the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.
But USA Today ran a so-called “fact-check” claiming Biden had only checked his watch “after the dignified transfer ceremony was over.”
The fact check ruled the claim “partly false,” writing that the image of Biden that circulated on social media was real but that it does not “accurately summarize” what occurred.
TOPSHOT – US President Joe Biden looks down alongside First Lady Jill Biden as they attend the dignified transfer of the remains of a fallen service member at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, August, 29, 2021, one of the 13 members of the US military killed in Afghanistan last week. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images) (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Following intense backlash from critics, USA Today issued a correction.
“Corrections & Clarifications: This story was updated Sept. 2 to note that Biden checked his watch multiple times at the dignified transfer event, including during the ceremony itself,” the correction read at the top of the report. “The rating on this claim has been changed from partly false to missing context.”
The headline also changed from “Fact check: Biden honored service members killed in Kabul, checked his watch only after ceremony” to “Fact check: Biden honored service members killed in Kabul, checked his watch during ceremony.”
Meghan McCain’s dramatic exit from “The View”
2021 was a year of many high-profile media departures, among them the exit of “The View” co-host Meghan McCain.
McCain turned the ABC daytime talk show into must-watch television for the on-air clashes she had with her liberal co-hosts throughout much of the Trump administration, as well as the first six months into the Biden administration.
While she was vocal with her opposition to Trump, her conservative stance was repeatedly met with hostility from Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar and Sunny Hostin.
But McCain’s exit received no mention on “Reliable Sources.”
“The View” co-host Meghan McCain apologized after spoiling the finale of “Game of Thrones.”
Since her departure, McCain was hired as a columnist for The Daily Mail while “The View” has had a rotation of right-leaning women to fill the seat until a permanent replacement is announced.
But in a tell-all audio memoir, McCain shed light on the behind-the-scenes drama she faced as the token conservative on the liberal program, accusing her now-former colleagues of “toxic, direct and purposeful hostility” towards her.
Jeffrey Toobin’s awkward return to CNN
The internet was set ablaze in June when CNN’s chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin reemerged on the network after an embarrassing scandal.
In October 2020, Toobin was caught masturbating on a Zoom work call with his colleagues at the New Yorker. While the magazine terminated Toobin’s employment, CNN accepted his request for some personal “time off.”
CNN shocked its viewers when Toobin returned to its airwaves, appearing for a sit-down with anchor Alisyn Camerota to discuss the masturbation scandal.
“What the hell were you thinking?” Camerota asked, kicking off the uncomfortable interview.
(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File) (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Stelter made no mention of Toobin’s splashy return on “Reliable Sources.” In fact, Toobin has not appeared on Stelter’s program since the awkward comeback occurred.
Toobin’s last “Reliable Sources” appearance took place in August 2020, according to Grabien transcripts.
Chris Cuomo’s mounting scandals
When CNN announced it had fired its primetime star Chris Cuomo after the network learned of a second sexual harassment allegation leveled against him, Stelter spoke critically of his fallen colleague and the “headaches” he created for CNN as he aided his brother, now-ousted Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
This, however, was a drastic shift in tone since the CNN lackey spent months defending the anchor and downplaying the blatant violation of journalistic ethics, most infamously on “The Late Show.”
But while Stelter was occasionally forced to address the Cuomo saga on “Reliable Sources,” there were other controversies that plagued the CNN host he overlooked.
For example, he made no mention of Cuomo’s first accuser, veteran TV producer Shelley Ross, who alleged that he grabbed her buttock at a 2005 work function when the two of them were colleagues at ABC News.
(Shelley Ross/Getty Images)
Ross, who came forward in September with a guest essay published in The New York Times, even provided an email he had sent to her at the time apologizing for the incident.
Stelter also skipped over the scandal surrounding Cuomo having benefited from VIP COVID tests in the early months of the pandemic provided by his brother’s administration as ordinary New Yorkers struggled to obtain them.
CNN’s own producer arrested for child sex crimes
The “Reliable Sources” host would be the first to revel whenever an employee at a conservative media outlet landed in hot water, but he was noticeably mum about the alleged pedophile walking the halls of CNN.
John Griffin, a senior producer for CNN’s flagship morning program “New Day,” was arrested by the FBI after a grand jury in Vermont indicted him for shocking child sex crimes.
After initially being suspended, Griffin was later fired by CNN.
“The charges against Mr. Griffin are deeply disturbing. We learned of his arrest Friday afternoon and terminated his employment Monday,” a CNN spokesperson told Fox News Digital.
John Griffin’s Oct. 2020 mug shot. (Vermont State Police)
According to the federal indictment, Griffin was charged with “three counts of using a facility of interstate commerce to attempt to entice minors to engage in unlawful sexual activity.”
Griffin was accused of coercing parents to help “train” their daughters for sex, even paying a Nevada mother $3,500 to fly herself and her 9-year-old daughter to engage in sex acts in his Vermont ski home in July 2020.
Court documents reveal federal investigators seized “computers storage media, devices, phones, cameras, MicroSD cards, images, and video” from Griffin on Sept. 2, 2020.
“Prior to his arrest and indictment, we had no knowledge about the case,” the spokesperson also told Fox News Digital, adding that no CNN-owned devices were seized by investigators.
Notably, Griffin closely worked with “New Day” co-host Chris Cuomo before landing the primetime gig.