Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Who is Liz Wahl and why won’t CNN tell us?

CNN’s Reliable Sources has interviewed former RT reporter Liz Wahl twice in recent weeks. The interviews anything but hard hitting. To call them fawning would be polite; they were simply cringe-inducing in their unctuous and unrelenting praise of all things Liz Wahl.

Reliable Sources 9 March 2014

Reliable Sources 23 March 2014
Brian Stelter basically used the interviews to advance and bolster Wahl’s preferred narrative: that she is an American patriot and a martyr for journalistic integrity.

In the second interview, Stelter went out of his way to help Wahl dismiss the criticisms leveled against her by the left-wing website Truth Dig.

How Cold War-Hungry Neocons Stage Managed Liz Wahl’s Resignation
Stelter did not try to pin down Wahl on any of the issues raised by in the Truth Dig piece. Instead, he treated them as paranoid fictions.

WAHL: And conspiracy theories get very dangerous. I never realized -- I was never a privy to this world before, but working there I realized how dangerous it is. These people hear these conspiracy theories and think that it's fact.

I mean, they -- the insiders there hatched a story with one of their friends saying that my resignation was part of a neocon plot to take over the world...

STELTER: Yes, this was a dust-up online this week.

WAHL: ... and -- yes, to take over the world, a neocon conspiracy theory to dupe the mainstream media.

And they hear this from these people that thrive off of conspiracy theories. This is their livelihood. They've cultivated this kind of fringe extremist audience. And they think it's fact. And no matter what you say, these are people -- it doesn't matter what kind of evidence you present to them. They do not want to believe the truth.
Stelter is apparently blind to the absurd humor inherent in Wahl resorting to a conspiracy theory to explain away her negative press after she cited RT’s reliance on conspiracy theories as part of her reason for leaving.

Blindness is one thing but dishonest flacking is something much worse. The besotted Stelter engaged in just that when he dismissed Truthdig’s article on Wahl as “a dust-up online” and tacitly endorsed her characterization of it as another lie fostered by RT.

The Truthdig article by Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek,”How Cold War-Hungry Neocons Stage Managed Liz Wahl’s Resignation,” was overwrought at times, but it did offer facts in support of its (fairly mild) conspiracy theory. Even if their theory is not true those facts are damning to Liz Wahl’s carefully crafted narrative. An honest media critic might have asked a couple of tough questions when faced with those facts.

But CNN does not have an honest press critic; they only have Brian Stelter. So all the really interesting points raised by Truthdig were ignored.

I’m still left with this question each time I watch Reliable Sources:

Is Brian Stelter clever and dishonest or is he stupid and completely lacking in self-awareness?

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