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OH PLEASE: CNN's Brian Stelter Laments Rise of News Bubbles, Echo Chambers



If there is anyone who is not in position to lament the raise of bubbles and echo chambers, it is anyone who works at CNN, but that didn’t stop Brian Stelter and CNN Right Now guest host Pamela Brown from doing just that on Thursday.

Stelter was talking about President Trump and his supporters’ relationship with Fox. Stelter, whose dislike of Fox led him to write a book called Hoax, decided that Fox is no longer state-run news, “[Trump] is angry at Fox and so are some of Fox’s loyal viewers, they’re angry Fox called Arizona for Biden early on, they’re angry Fox has rightly identified Biden as the President-Elect, and so Trump and some of his fans are lashing out on social media.”

 

 

After Stelter noted that is still sharing some clips of Fox hosts, Brown inquired, “You’re tracking other right-wing media outlets. What patterns are you seeing among his voters?”

Stelter observed that outlets like Newsmax and OAN are increasing in popularity because “There’s clearly an audience for a channel that’s so far right they deny Biden is the President-Elect, that they promote voter fraud innuendo all day long, so some Fox fans are going off to other channels instead.”

For Stelter, the big picture is increasing polarization in media consumption:

People are going more and more into their own echo chambers. More into their own bubbles, especially Trump voters. There’s a new social media out called Parler getting a lot of attention. Because conservatives are, saying they’re saying they’re leaving Twitter and Facebook going to Parler because they believe Parler is a safer space for them. What we’re seeing is more bunker mentality in right-wing media. Ultimately that’s not good for the country. 

Brown agreed with the usual CNN lingo: “No, it is not good, it is a threat to democracy that these people are in echo chambers, and they’re being fed a diet of lies, essentially.”

Stelter can certainly worry about media consumers staying in “echo chambers,” but his network prefers liberals “debate” with Never Trumpers who endorsed Biden instead of regular Republicans, so he should not be accusing others of living in bubbles. And touting the idea that Trump colluded with the Russians to get elected in 2016 was….a diet of lies. 

An August study showed — and if CNN has taught as anything this year, it is that science is not to be questioned — the Beltway media bubble is actually worse than thought with University of Illinois journalism professor Nikki Usher, who is not exactly a Trump fan, saying CNN’s bubble was particularly bad, “CNN is telling a story about what is happening with CNN, and that is worrisome. Maybe that’s an organizational branding strategy, but I think it potentially has deleterious effects for public discourse.”

This segment was sponsored by Panera Bread.

Here is a transcript for the November 12 show:

CNN

CNN Right Now

1:46 PM ET

BRIAN STELTER: He is tweeting more about Fox News than about COVID. It shows his five stages of grief, it signals he is still in the anger phase. He is angry at Fox and so are some of Fox’s loyal viewers, they’re angry Fox called Arizona for Biden early on, they’re angry Fox has rightly identified Biden as the President-Elect, and so Trump and some of his fans are lashing out on social media. Pamela, this has always been a marriage of convenience between Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump. It’s always been a marriage of convenience. Certainly, both sides are saying hurtful words now, but it is still a marriage. Trump may be threatening to see other people, but it is still a marriage. Trump is also promoting Sean Hannity, sharing clips he likes on Fox. So, it’s complicated and divorce could be down the road, but not yet. 

PAMELA BROWN: Right. He seems to like the opinion hosts like Sean Hannity more than the actual straightforward news journalists, exactly. You’re tracking other right-wing media outlets. What patterns are you seeing among his voters? 

STELTER: Yeah, when I refer to a divorce, that’s because there are other suitors out there. There are these smaller right-wing channels like Newsmax and One America News that are further to the right than Fox News and Trump is promoting those chance now. Newsmax seeing extraordinary surge in viewership, still a lot lower than CNN or Fox, but this was a channel that had 50,000 viewers before the election, now sometimes a half million viewers. There’s clearly an audience for a channel that’s so far right they deny Biden is the President-Elect, that they promote voter fraud innuendo all day long, so some Fox fans are going off to other channels instead. 

It is possible after Inauguration Day, that Trump may do the same, whether he wants to launch a streaming service, host a radio show or go to a channel like Newsmax. There continues to be a lot of chatter about what his future media platform might be: could he end up with a show on Fox News? It is not out of the realm of possibility. But there are definitely other options for the outgoing president. That’s something to keep an eye on. 

I think big picture here, Pamela, here is the concerning trend line here. People are going more and more into their own echo chambers. More into their own bubbles, especially Trump voters. There’s a new social media out called Parler getting a lot of attention. Because conservatives are, saying they’re saying they’re leaving Twitter and Facebook going to Parler because they believe Parler is a safer space for them. What we’re seeing is more bunker mentality in right-wing media. Ultimately that’s not good for the country. 

BROWN: No, it is not good, it is a threat to democracy that these people are in echo chambers, and they’re being fed a diet of lies essentially. 



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