CNN media critic Brian Stelter was confronted by a college freshman about the failures of journalism at CNN during a conference on disinformation.
Stelter dismissed the question as a "right-wing narrative" after taking the question from the audience at a "Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy" conference at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics.
The question came from a young man who identified himself as a college freshman named Chris Phillips.
"My question is for Mr. Stelter, you've all spoken extensively about Fox News being a purveyor of disinformation but CNN is right up there with them," said Phillips.
"They pushed the Russian collusion hoax, they pushed the Jussie Smollett hoax, they smeared Justice Kavanaugh as a racist, and they also smeared Nick Sandmann as a white supremacist, and yes, they dismissed the Hunter Biden laptop affair as pure Russian disinformation. With mainstream corporate journalists becoming little more than apologists and cheerleaders for the regime is it time to finally declare the canon of journalistic ethics is dead or no longer operative?" he asked.
"All the mistakes of mainstream media and CNN in particular seem to magically all go in one direction, are we expected to believe that this all sort of random coincidence, or is there something else behind it?" Phillips added.
"It's too bad, it's time for lunch!" Stelter joked to some applause from the audience.
"I think my honest answer to you, and I'll come over and talk in more detail after this, is that I think you're describing a different channel than the one that I watch. But I understand that that is a popular right wing narrative about CNN," replied Stelter.
"We talk about shared reality and Democracy all these networks and all these channels have to defend Democracy," he added. "And when they screw up, admit it."
He went on to point out how CNN and other news crews showed how they supported each other when they helped Fox News journalists when they were attacked during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
"We don't talk about it enough though, we don't share that reality about how that happens. And with regards to the regime, I think you mean President Biden, well the last time I spoke with a Biden aide, we yelled with each other," Stelter continued.
"So that's the reality of the news business, the people don't see, the people don't hear, they imagine it's a situation that it simply is not, but I think your question speaks to the failure of journalism to show our work and show the reality of how our profession operates," he added.
"We have a lot of work to do, I think," Stelter concluded.