Surgeon General Jerome Adams scolded the media during a White House press conference on Saturday for politicizing the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
"Straight talk from the nation's doctor: We really need you all to lean into and prioritize the health and safety of the American people," Adams said. "No more bickering, no more partisanship, no more criticism or finger-pointing."
But the prescription was too much for CNN host Brian Stelter.
In CNN's "Reliable Sources" newsletter, Stelter blasted Adams for his comments and attempted to lecture the top U.S. doctor on how to do his job.
What Adams called "bickering" and "criticism" is what most of us call accountability. Is there value in focusing on the future? Yes, but when Adams said he wants "less stories looking at what happened in the past," I hear him saying "stop exposing the Trump administration's failures." There is value in all of the coverage. And government officials don't get to decide that -- readers and reporters and whistleblowers and editors do.
Adams used the word "need," talking to the press corps. So I will too. He needs to spend his time educating the public about how to protect each other, not lecturing the press about what's newsworthy.
The directive did not go over so well for Stelter.
"Does anyone else find it ironic that @brianstelter, instead of using his platform to provide critical information that could support the health and safety of the public, is complaining that the Surgeon General is tone policing the media?" one person responded.
"I would be a lot more sympathetic to your pontificating about the media's role in ensuring accountability if your network didn't host Anthony Scaramucci today to give his opinions about the coronavirus. Yes, the media has a vital role. It's to deliver crucial facts. Do that," another person told Stelter.
"Uh, the Surgeon General has been spending his time educating the public about how to protect each other - he did so today & on TV & across the country. Him taking ten secs to call out the exact thing you're trying to pull here doesn't change that, Brian," another person responded.
"Media janitor doesn't want to be lectured re what's newsworthy. Also, same media janitor wants to tell Surgeon General how to do SG's job," another critic responded.