Brian Stelter Profile picture
Anchor of @ReliableSources and @CNN's chief media correspondent. My book HOAX, the untold story of Trump and Fox News, is out Aug 25. Email:
Becky Werner Profile picture unload Profile picture Save the Free Press Initiative Profile picture Jamey Hebb Profile picture 5 added to My Authors
16 Nov
When Barack Obama and his editors at Crown picked this week to publish the first volume of his memoirs, they hoped that the election results would be clear, that Biden would be busy with transition work, and that there wouldn't be any widespread unrest. Correct on all 3 counts...
Tuesday is a wide-open launchpad for "A Promised Land," which is expected to be the best-selling book of 2020, just as Michelle Obama's "Becoming" was in 2018. The book tour is doubling as a warning about a "deeply divided" media landscape. Short #thread…
In every interview, Obama is talking about media. When @GayleKing asked about the 72 million people who voted for Trump, he said, "The power of that alternative worldview that's presented in the media that those voters consume, it carries a lot of weight."…
Read 9 tweets
12 Nov
Trump just retweeted a dozen Twitter users who are trashing Fox News and promoting Newsmax. Here's my new story about Newsmax + a thread about what is going on...…
On Newsmax, voter fraud innuendo is everywhere. Conspiracy theory chatter is constant. And perhaps most importantly, Joe Biden is NOT president-elect. They say they haven't called the race. (They don't have a decision desk.) They're tapping into a real vein of rage on the right.
Before election day, Newsmax and OAN were just annoying flies on the Fox elephant's back. But something dramatic has happened: Newsmax's audience has BALLOONED. Final week of October, the channel averaged 65,000 viewers. Election week: 182,000. Monday: 347,000. Tuesday: 437,000.
Read 6 tweets
10 Nov
Thread of @jaketapper's reporting: "I spent some time today talking to Republican officials on both ends of Pennsylvania Ave, and what they say is, no one out there should worry that our democracy is in actual jeopardy..."
"They say this is all part of walking President Trump through this process emotionally and that they assume that while he may never concede, he will leave. There will be, they say, a peaceful transition of power to the Biden-Harris administration on January 20. They say that."
"But they say it on background," @jaketapper added, "because they don't want to upset President Trump and they don't want to get death threats from his supporters. You may or may not find that reassuring."
Read 4 tweets
6 Nov
While we wait, let's take a look at some of Friday's front pages from newspapers across the country and around the world...
In the UK, the Daily Star tabloid says "GRUMPY TRUMPY SET TO LOSE BIGLY." Metro: "BIDEN HIS TIME."
Via the Newseum website, here are battleground state front pages – the @AJC's headline about Biden "nearly" pulling even with Trump in Georgia is already out of date
Read 5 tweets
2 Nov
The main reason 2020's election night is going to be different "is because it takes longer to count those mail-in ballots." Here's a thread with what CNN DC bureau chief @SamFeistCNN told me...
Could the networks project a winner on Tuesday night? If "we know the results and there is a clear winner in FL and NC and AZ – these are all states that are likely to finish their count on Election Night – we could very well know a winner." But if it comes down to PA, then no.
Feist noted that we'll know the results of mail-in and early votes in FL and NC early on Election Night. But in other key states -- like PA and WI -- "it's going to take them a while." There could be red shifts in some states, blue shifts in others. Watch:
Read 5 tweets
2 Nov
Thread: Right now Fox News viewers are being misled about Trump's chances of winning the election in the following ways...…
Fox is so chock full of pro-Trump commentary and rally coverage that viewers come away with the impression that this race is a whole heck of a lot closer to 50/50 than it actually is. The prime time narrative: "BIG ENTHUSIASM FOR TRUMP." "MASSIVE." "TRUMP CLOSING THE GAP..."
The network's talk shows are constantly suggesting that a minority of people are actually the "silent majority." Example: Voters-in-diners segments. Sunday's AM show featured Trump voter after Trump voter at a diner in Asbury Park, NJ. Not at all representative of a blue state.
Read 7 tweets
30 Oct
No matter what happens in the 2020 election, this chapter of American history could well be called the "fake news age." So I went back to the beginning... to the "fake" origins...…
All the anti-media attacks and Covid denialism, all the pro-Trump propaganda and all the assertions that you shouldn't believe your own eyes and ears — I argue that it's all rooted in Trump's insistence that news is "fake." He made the claim for the first time on Jan. 11, 2017...
On that day, @CraigSilverman couldn't believe HIS ears. He had been studying and exposing truly "fake" news, made-up stories, for years. Suddenly Trump has hijacked the term. The two of us took a trip down memory lane for this week's RS podcast…
Read 7 tweets
26 Oct
POTUS is tired of the coronavirus and is blasting the news media for taking the virus so seriously. (I can't believe I just wrote that sentence.) His base agrees with him, but he's out of touch with the rest of America. Here's the data that proves it...
Pew's polling shows that 4 in 5 Americans are following news about the virus closely. ABC's polling shows that nearly 4 in 5 are worried about getting infected.…
The virus IS the biggest story of 2020. Obviously no one wants it to be. But it's a once-in-a-century pandemic – it's affected everyone on the planet – so this is less about newsrooms setting the agenda and more about the virus and the public health community setting the agenda.
Read 5 tweets
18 Oct
In every campaign cycle, right around this time of year, Republican-aligned media rolls out a closing argument against the Democrats. In 2014: Ebola. 2016: "Her emails." 2018: The "caravan." This year, it's an echo of 2016 – it's about HIS emails...
Fox News is a key player in this rollout every two years. In my essay on today's @ReliableSources, I quoted from this recent @emilyvdw piece, "How Fox News molds reality into a serialized TV drama"…
Pro-Trump media outlets careen from conspiracy to conspiracy. Newest example: On the same morning that the @washingtonpost front page said "'Unmasking' probe concludes without charges," the @NYPost front page promised "BIDEN SECRET EMAILS." On to the next!
Read 9 tweets
14 Oct
Alright, who's in the mood for a #thread about the DUELING TOWN HALLS problem?
First things first: TV networks are always competing to host town halls. It's not primarily about "ratings." Trump's town hall on ABC only had 3.8 million viewers! News divisions are proud of these events, proud to connect voters with the candidates, etc. It's in the TV news DNA.
NBC produced a town hall with Biden last week. Trump was offered the same opportunity. Even though he attacks NBC so much that some journos have been placed in danger... even though he calls it "Concast..." even though he lies incessantly... tenets of journalistic fairness apply.
Read 13 tweets
10 Oct
On almost every stop of my book tour for, I've been asked about the future of Fox News. And I've talked about the battle for control of Fox that will erupt in the event of Rupert Murdoch's death. Time for a #thread...
Rupert's four adult children all hold power through their shares in the Murdoch Family Trust. In HOAX, I outlined a theory: Could James "partner with his sisters to wrest control of Fox Corp" from brother Lachlan, who currently runs the company?
On Page 313 I wrote, "sources said that Elisabeth would surely side with James, and Prudence likely would as well—three votes against one. Was this a serious possibility, or just a liberal fantasy? 'Time will tell,' a source said." It all hinged on the passing of the patriarch.
Read 7 tweets
7 Oct
Today is Fox News Channel's 24th birthday. Time for a #thread about how much has changed since Fox's founding on October 7, 1996...
Fox was #3 behind CNN and MSNBC. In a high school yearbook, it would have been voted "least likely to succeed." But as I write in, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes converted the jeers into fuel. Ailes vowed that Fox would become #1.
Here's how CNN covered Fox's launch day:

"For Murdoch, Fox News is the culmination of a long-held ambition -- building a U.S-based global television-news network."…
Read 13 tweets
29 Sep
Is this a "Fox News debate?" Well, no, because it is live on EVERY big channel and website tonight. But in a broader sense, yes it is. #Thread time...
Tonight's moderator, Chris Wallace, stands alone at Fox. His Sunday program primarily airs on broadcast, not Fox News. He has his own producers. He has said that he doesn't regularly watch the right-wing talk shows that make Fox #1 in the cable ratings.
But here's the thing: Everyone at Fox is affected, in some way, by the Trump-Fox merger. Everyone "feels" it. The pressure from the audience, the pressure from management, the expectation that Fox will be "fair" to Trump – and I don't mean "fair" in the good faith definition.
Read 8 tweets
29 Sep
I'm up next on @JohnKingCNN's program with headlines from my interview with Dr. Fauci... 📺
Fauci said he is concerned about misleading info getting to President Trump – "that sometimes things are said that are really taken either out of context or actually incorrect."…
Fauci reiterated the basics... the info that can't be repeated often enough... "Masks are critically important in preventing the transmission and acquisition of SARS coronavirus 2." Also: "We're nowhere near herd immunity as a nation."
Read 5 tweets
22 Sep
4 weeks since HOAX came out — and today I discovered it in the front window at Barnes & Noble Union Square — best surprise of the month. Right behind RAGE, appropriately! ImageImage
A book tour is like... well, I was going to say it's like a roller coaster 🎢 , but when the experience is entirely virtual from your home studio, that doesn't make much sense. But I'll tell you the best part...
The best part: Digesting the reviews and emails and comments from 📚 readers. Even the supremely critical ones. I learned things *about Fox and Trump* by reading the reviews. Gained ideas for future stories too.
Read 5 tweets
21 Sep
Is America slouching toward autocracy?

That's the Q I opened Sunday's @ReliableSources with. Almost every day there are new signs of democratic backsliding, new warnings from political scientists. Alarm bells are ringing for all to hear, like Trump mocking @AliVelshi's injury
Gloating about a reporter being hit by a rubber bullet is autocratic, not democratic. We all know this, don't we?…
A segment of the U.S. population, a minority, has long held authoritarian leanings. E.g.: Polls showing a preference for a strongman leader to provide protection. Trump has enlivened that segment. E.g.: Rallygoers cheered when Trump told the Velshi story.…
Read 5 tweets
15 Sep
With Trump calling into "Fox & Friends" today, here's a thread about the morning show's power, from the sources I interviewed for (1/7)
The length of Trump's phoners is something of a punchline among rank-and-file Fox staffers. "When Trump was booked for 8:10, and we had an assignment for 8:40, we didn't bother writing it, because we knew he'd talk until the end of the hour," a morning show producer said
Another running joke among the staff: The fact that Trump rates the hosts. Ainsley Earhardt: a 10. Steve Doocy: a 12. Trump graded Brian Kilmeade to his face in a 2019 interview: "I used to say you, you were a solid 6, maybe a 7, but you're getting much better."
Read 7 tweets
14 Sep
It has come to this: The country's major TV networks decided to stay outdoors while Trump held an indoor rally on Sunday. News outlets exhibited more responsibility than the president:
Today I spoke with 5 people on the ground in Nevada and 5 who are involved in news coverage decision-making back at HQ. The takeaway: Trump's defiance of Covid safety guidelines is forcing news outlets to make tough calls about keeping staffers safe.
The WH press pool still attended Sunday's rally, so that all the other outlets were provided with video, photos and raw material. "There is definitely some anxiety in the pool..."…
Read 4 tweets
4 Sep
Trump: "It's a HOAX. Just like the fake dossier was a hoax. Just like the Russia-Russia-Russia was a hoax. It was a total hoax."

Okay, it's time for a thread on Trump's favorite four-letter word...
Trump has been using the word "hoax" more and more every year. The word has become a building block in his permanent campaign of disbelief, as I wrote in this NYT op-ed…
"Hoax is a potent word, in being an angry and mean one," the linguist @JohnHMcWhorter told me. It "carries an air of accusation, of transgression," in a way that "fake news" does not. McWhorter called it "the quintessence of Trumpian self-expression."
Read 6 tweets
29 Aug
I see that the president is tweeting about ratings again. Time for a #thread...
In, I describe how Trump twisted his "Apprentice" ratings to tell a persuasive story about his popularity even when his audience was slipping away. He used to send media reporters 🙋‍♂️ angry messages when we didn't buy his spin.
Billy Bush recalled a day when he called out Trump for this:

"Wait a minute, Donald, you haven't been #1 in 5 or 4 years, not in any category, not in any demo."

Trump: "Well, did you see last Thursday? Last Thursday, 18–49, last five minutes!"

Bush: "Nope, still not true."
Read 9 tweets
27 Aug
Since Tucker Carlson is back in the news, this time for seemingly justifying violence, here are some of the newsiest Carlson parts of HOAX...…
First: Tucker Carlson's salary is higher than what's been reported in the past. He now makes about $10 million a year from Fox News.
During my research for HOAX, I spoke with numerous anchors, correspondents, commentators, etc who said they wished management would rein Carlson in. But he has an alliance of sorts with Lachlan Murdoch...…
Read 6 tweets