CNN’s chief media correspondent is facing ridicule for a groveling interview in which he asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki what the media gets “wrong” when covering the Biden administration.
“Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter conducted an interview with Psaki on Sunday’s episode of the weekly show, which he kicked off by offering President Biden’s chief spokeswoman a chance to critique the media.
“The White House press secretary faces some unique challenges,” Stelter fawned. “Busy summer ahead — infrastructure, election reform.”
“What does the press get wrong when covering Biden’s agenda? When you watch the news, when you read the news, what do you think we get wrong?”
Psaki said many in the press corps seemed to fail to recognize how long the legislative process can be while reporting on the administration’s efforts to push the president’s agenda through Congress.
“I think some of our muscles have atrophied a little bit over the last few years, and there isn’t a lot of memory, recent memory or longer memory, on how long it takes to get legislation forward or how messy the process of negotiating and the process of getting legislation across the finish line can be,” she explained.
“I don’t know if that’s the press getting it wrong. I’ll leave you to the critique of that, Brian.”
Later on in the interview, Stelter asked Psaki if she too worried as a parent about “craziness” from Republicans.
“You have a daughter going into kindergarten, I have a daughter going into pre-K, and I think to myself, what kind of country is this going to be when they are our age? Do you fear that given the craziness we’re seeing from the GOP?” he asked the White House spokeswoman.
“I guess I don’t think about it through a political prism, maybe that’s funny given I’m in Democratic politics,” she replied before beginning to list Biden’s policy priorities.
Media personalities excoriated the CNN host after clips of the interview began to circulate on social media.
“Beat me, Jen! Tell me how to be better,” journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote in one of a series of tweets.
“Have I been a bad boy, Jen? I want to be a good boy,” he added in another.
“I’m not using hyperbole when I say the ‘interview’ that @brianstelter did with Jen Psaki yesterday should be studied in journalism school. It’s one of the most sycophantic interviews of a state official you’ll ever see. This is how state TV functions,” Greenwald wrote.
“Our corrupt media are absolutely nothing more than propagandists and should be treated as such,” Mollie Hemingway, senior editor of The Federalist and a Fox News contributor, tweeted.
She and Stelter then engaged in a back-and-forth about the media, with the CNN correspondent writing, “maybe only Republican press secretaries are allowed to comment on the news media’s performance – is that your new rule?”
Hemingway replied, “Are you trying to pretend that the posture of the entire corrupt media complex wasn’t cartoonishly hostile to Trump/anyone who worked for him/voted for him?
“Because just fyi the country was not given memory-erasing drugs causing them to forget what you all did.”
For his part, Stelter issued a longer tweet addressing the backlash, writing, “My Twitter mentions right now: liberals mad because I asked @PressSec about why Biden won’t hold more press conferences. Conservatives enraged because I asked her ‘what do you think we get wrong?’”
“And I feel so old fashioned thinking to myself, ‘judge the interview in context…’”