After President Joe Biden caused an uproar by calling Fox News reporter Peter Doocy a "stupid son of a bitch," CNN host Brian Stelter worked overtime to minimize the insulting incident.
As reporters were being ushered out of the East Room at the White House following a brief appearance by Biden, Doocy asked the president whether he believes inflation and growing economic woes are a political liability in the 2022 midterm elections.
With his microphone still hot, Biden mockingly said, "No, it's a great asset — more inflation." Biden then added, "What a stupid son of a bitch."
How did Stelter react?
CNN media reporter Brian Stelter, also the host of "Reliable Sources," mostly dismissed the incident as small and not worthy of news coverage.
In the Reliable Sources newsletter, Stelter went to great pains to emphasize that he does not believe the incident is worth widespread media coverage. True to character, Stelter also used the incident to swipe at Fox News.
First, let's stipulate that this is not the most important thing that happened at the White House on Monday. Far from it. Second, let's recognize that the Twitter-type excitement over Biden's profane comment about Fox's Peter Doocy is a reflection of the fact that people feel like they rarely hear "real" and "unscripted" remarks from politicians. And third, let's acknowledge that Fox is milking this exchange for all its worth.
Stelter advanced the same argument on CNN Tuesday morning: The story is not that important and Fox News is going to talk about it "as if it is the most important thing in the world." To be fair, Stelter also admitted in the newsletter and on CNN that he thinks it was "wrong" for Biden to insult Doocy.
What happened when Trump was president?
While speaking at a rally in March 2018, Trump called NBC News anchor Chuck Todd a "sleeping son of a bitch." At the time, Stelter claimed that Trump's comments increased risk of danger for journalists.
"Calling a journalist a ‘son of a bitch?’ It was wrong when Trump was just a candidate, and it’s even worse now that he’s POTUS," Stelter posted in 2018. "These jabs expose journalists to threats and intimidation."
Stelter acknowledged late Monday his comments from nearly four years ago. He called both instances "wrong." However, now that Biden is president, Stelter urged that Biden's insult must be understood in its "context" — a charitable attitude that he did not extend to Trump. In fact, Stelter called it "different" altogether.
"Biden doesn't berate the media like Trump, so the context for today is different, but it's still out of line," Stelter wrote on Twitter.
Stelter also emphasized "context" in the Reliable Sources newsletter and described Biden's insult as "sarcasm."
"Context certainly matters, and the backdrop to Biden's sarcasm — after Doocy shouted 'do you think inflation is a political liability in the midterms?' — is very different than the destroy-the-media context of Trump's behavior," Stelter wrote in the newsletter.
One thus wonders why Stelter bends over backward to contextualize Biden's comments and extend him charity, but was seemingly unwilling to do the same for Trump. Perhaps the lack of consistency is why so few Americans trust the mainstream media.