Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s Reliable Sources, has come under fire from both the left and the right for directing a series of softball questions to White House press secretary Jen Psaki Sunday, prompting conservative journalist Glenn Greenwald to on-air exchange as “one of the most sycophantic interviews by a state official you’ll ever see.”
Stelter opened the interview on Sunday with the question to Psaki: ‘What is the press doing wrong when they cover Biden’s agenda?’
Psaki replied, “Some of our muscles have become a little atrophied in recent years, and there isn’t much memory – recent memory or longer memory – about how long it takes to move legislation forward or how messy the negotiation process and the process of legislation can be passed.
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Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s Reliable Sources, has come under fire for what some have described as a “obeying” interview with White House press secretary Jen Psaki
Stelter opened Sunday’s interview by asking Psaki “what is the press doing wrong when they cover Biden’s agenda?”
“So we know, we understand that everyone is always looking for a deadline, a timeline, that sort of thing,” she continued. “I don’t know if that’s the press wrong. I’ll leave you to the criticism of that, Brian.’
Greenwald, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist famous for breaking the Edward Snowden leaks, turned to Stelter’s way of asking questions, derisively tweeting, “Have I been a bad boy, Jen? I want to be a good boy.’
He followed with another sarcastic barb: “Hit me, Jen! Tell me how I can get better.’
Stelter brought up the subject of the press again later in the interview, asking Psaki, “for journalists watching what you do, what is your advice for them to stay close to the truth in this world of lies?”
Conservative journalist Glenn Greenwald criticized Stelter for asking questions and mocked him for visiting Jen Psaki
The Biden administration spokesman replied that she is trying to “stay with the facts” by focusing on details and communicating them in a clear way to ordinary people.
Over the course of the 12-minute interview, Stelter asked Psaki, who previously worked as a CNN commentator, if she fears for the future of their respective young children “given the insanity we’re seeing from the GOP.”
Ignoring the political aspect of the question, Psaki said she is concerned about tackling the climate crisis and broadening LGBTQ rights so children can grow up to be what they want to be.
“Somehow Brian Stelter managed to take his humiliating ‘tell-me-why-I-bad-Jen’ start into his interview and become even more sycophantic from there,” Greenwald joked. “Even Psaki had to think, ‘Oh my god, the intensity of his worship is…uncomfortable.’
Steve Cortes, host at the right-wing Newsmax, criticized Stelterter’s journalistic skills
Other questions centered on Psaki’s previous comments about her intention to remain as a press secretary for a year, her willingness to call on reporters from right-wing news outlets like Fox News and Newsmax, whom she indirectly compared to representatives from Russian and Chinese state media pushing “propaganda” into the briefing room, and its general relationship with the press.
Stelters arguably the most persistent question had to do with President Joe Biden’s alleged reluctance to hold more formal press conferences or sit down for interviews.
Psaki noted that in the first 100 days of his presidency, Biden answered questions from the press for 77 days.
Stelter urged Psaki to explain why the White House chose not to hold a press conference that “would draw the nation’s attention,” speculating whether it was “part of an effort to lower the temperature, less visible.” to be, to be boring?’
Stelter complained on Twitter that he was being attacked by both the left and the right
The spokesperson shot back: ‘Certainly not. I don’t think everything we do here is boring. Getting the pandemic under control, taking our first overseas trip, putting millions of Americans back to work… I don’t know which version of that is boring.”
Psaki went on to say that reporters have the opportunity to ask questions of the president several times a week, and suggested that the demand for a formal solo press conference is driven more by the media than by the public.
“I expected you to say that,” Stelter said with a grin.
On Twitter, Greenwald was unimpressed with the CNN host’s interviewing skills.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say that the ‘interview’ @brianstelter did with Jen Psaki yesterday should be studied in journalism school,” he wrote. “It’s one of the most sycophantic interviews by a state official you’ll ever see. That’s how state television works…’
Former Trump White House press secretary Sean Spicer also took a potshot at Stelter, tweeting sarcastically, “Are we doing good enough to push the White House’s talking points…can we do better?”
Stelter, who joined CNN in 2013 after covering TV and digital media for the New York Times for six years, lamented the criticism of him, writing: “My Twitter now says: Liberals are crazy because I asked @PressSec why Biden won no more press conferences. Conservatives were outraged because I asked her “what do you think we got wrong?” And I feel so old fashioned thinking to myself, “Please judge the interview in context…”
Oliver Willis, senior writer for the progressive news site The American Independent, mocked Stelter’s lament in a tweet: “Both sides are mad at me, so I must be doing something right is a classic dodge.”