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'Hoax' author Brian Stelter on why he's 'mad as hell,' how Fox News directs Trump's policies, and CNN's haters

5 27 40
16.09.2020

Brian Stelter, host of CNN's "Reliable Sources" and author of "Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth" lives and breathes media. As an undergrad he founded TVNewser, then went straight to The New York Times, where he was mentored by the late, legendary media reporter David Carr.

Now a mainstay of media reporting and criticism, he's turned his attention to what he sees as an unholy alliance between a corporate media network, Fox News, and the most powerful man in the world, President Donald Trump. In Stelter's accounting, "Fox and Friends" and a few primetime Fox hosts have more influence on the president than members of his own cabinet.

"Hoax" — a New York Times best seller in its first weeks of publication — is based largely information gleaned from over 140 sources within Fox News, and that's just the people that work there now.

Stelter spoke by phone with Business Insider columnist Anthony Fisher last week. This interview has been edited for style, length, and clarity.

At the beginning of "Hoax," you make it clear that you're not neutral when it comes to your point of view as the writer of this book. You're "mad as hell." Does that pose a problem when you're not in author mode, but instead back in media reporter mode?

I think it is absolutely possible and important to be fair to everyone. In this case, to be fair to the subjects of the book and to be fair to media companies and networks and shows and TV hosts. But I also think it's appropriate and necessary to admit that we're living through a crisis and people have strong feelings about that crisis. So I don't think they're mutually exclusive.

Roger Ailes has been gone from Fox News for just over four years. He founded Fox News, he was the unquestioned one man in charge. Who's calling the editorial shots at Fox now?

The ghost of Roger Ailes is still in some ways running Fox News. After he was forced out in 2016, managers asked each other, "What would Roger do?" And there was very much a sense of the network running on autopilot.

Now I can already tell you what the pushback would be from Fox News PR. They would say that there's a strong management team in place led by CEO Suzanne Scott, and that the culture has been reformed, and that hit new shows have been added to the schedule. And that is true. There were great programming choices made after Ailes was forced out. And there were big changes made internally to address this culture of sexual harassment that existed in the Ailes years. However, dozens and dozens of sources told me that they feel like the network lacks strong editorial leadership. And that is why when Jennifer Griffin corroborated key parts of The Atlantic story about Trump insulting the war dead, she was barely visible on Fox. The focus was more on Trump's denials than on the networks own........

© Business Insider


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