Psychiatrist Allen Frances claimed on CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday that President Donald Trump's leadership will result in more deaths than the destructive actions of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.
Frances, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University, said:
Calling Trump crazy hides the fact that we're crazy for having elected him. And even crazier for allowing his crazy policies to persist.
Trump is as destructive a person in this century as Hitler, Stalin and Mao were in the last century. He may be responsible for many million more deaths than they were. He needs to be contained, but he needs to be contained by attacking his policies, not his person.
While Frances' comments were shocking — considering Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong were collectively responsible for killing tens of millions of people — even more stunning was the fact that show host Brian Stelter did not interject, question, push back, or fact check Frances.
Instead, Stelter allowed Frances to continue talking while he stared directly into the camera.
CNN Guest Allen Frances Claims Trump Has Killed More Than Hitler. www.youtube.com
Stelter's reaction — or more aptly, his non-reaction — triggered a wave of backlash on social media. He was criticized for not pushing back or questioning Frances' outlandish claim, a routine responsibility for show hosts.
Fox News host Greg Gutfeld:
Daily Caller reporter Chuck Ross:
Media reporter Joe Concha:
Pollster Frank Luntz:
Donald Trump Jr.:
How did Stelter respond?
He said he should have interrupted Frances, but didn't because he did not hear what Frances said. Stelter claimed he was "distracted by tech difficulties."
I agree that I should have interrupted after that line. I wish I had heard him say it, but I was distracted by tech difficulties (that's why the show open didn't look the way it normally does, I had two computers at the table, etc). Not hearing the comment is my fault.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) August 25, 2019
But not everyone believed Stelter because, as the Daily Wire's Ryan Saavedra noted, CNN promoted the segment that included the comments on social media.