CNN’s Brian Stelter accused Conservative Review Editor-in-Chief Mark Levin of starting a “conspiracy theory” Monday in an article about questions Levin raised last week regarding the extent to which the Obama administration may have spied on the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.
Citing reporting by mainstream media outlets that the Obama administration sought two separate FISA court warrants to surveil the Trump campaign, Levin made the case that a congressional investigation is warranted to determine if there was any spying, and if there was, the extent of it.
Stelter, the host of "Reliable Sources," accused Levin of using “cherry-picked news stories that supported his thesis and omitted information that cut against it.”
There is no evidence to back up this theory. While the government has been investigating Russian attempts to interfere with the election, a spokesman for Obama called any suggestion that Obama or any White House official ordered surveillance against Trump ‘simply false.’
On the contrary, as Mark Levin said himself over the weekend “the evidence is overwhelming.” But Stelter has a sordid history of misrepresenting facts and reporting dishonestly under the guise of objective journalism.
The last time Stelter accused conservatives of pushing a conspiracy theory, he dismissed questions of Hillary Clinton’s health during the presidential campaign, admonishing journalists not to “give oxygen” to such questions.
"Let's be honest, they had that horrible photo on the cover of that supermarket tabloid," Stelter said, referencing a report on Clinton’s ailing health. "Clearly, Hillary is photoshopped in that picture. I thought it was disgusting, and yet, even though there are these conspiracy theories which we should not give oxygen to saying that she's secretly ill suggesting she is on her deathbed which we can see she's not."
It turned out, of course, that Mrs. Clinton was ill. She was suffering from pneumonia at the time.
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) September 11, 2016
The conservatives asking questions turned out to be right. How did Stelter respond? By accusing Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and others of wishing Hillary Clinton dead.
Stelter said that members of conservative media covering Clinton’s health were part of a "truly deplorable basket. Sean Hannity fits into it, so does Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones and others. These are people who bring up rumors and innuendo about Clinton’s health, and have been doing it for years."
"I'm not saying Hannity or Limbaugh fit into these necessarily," Stelter continued, "but they — some of these figures want her to be sick. They want her to be dying. They want her to be on her deathbed."
Both Limbaugh and Hannity had voiced concern for Mrs. Clinton’s health on their respective programs. Stelter’s accusation against them was totally false and slanderous. He’s treated supporters of President Trump likewise.
Last November, Stelter claimed there were “hundreds of cases of swastikas, of racist language, of harassment, of in some cases, assaults and bullying across this country” by Trump supporters after the election of Donald Trump. The Daily Caller checked Stelter’s facts and found that not only was Stelter's claim vastly overblown, but that it was unclear in the reported incidents that took place whether Trump supporters were responsible.
In a public letter from Mark Levin to Stelter, which was published at Conservative Review, Levin wrote “Your lack of curiosity and dishonesty about such matters and in dealing with me demean you and your profession.”
Unfortunately for Stelter, he has clearly been demeaning his profession long before accusing Mark Levin of misrepresenting facts and passing along conspiracy theories.
Editor's note: This piece has been updated to more accurately reflect the Daily Caller article referenced in the 13th paragraph.