CNN host Brian Stelter admitted Monday evening on HLN’s “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” that he let pro-gun control David Hogg, a Parkland shooting survivor, make false claims about the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Second Amendment proponents without challenging him to back them up.
After the expelled, 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people February 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, media outlets gave a huge platform to many pro-gun control survivors. HLN host S.E. Cupp noted while interviewing Stelter that the mainstream media outlets “have been giving these kids a lot of coverage.”
“Gun policy is boring, right? So it doesn’t get a lot of TV coverage,” Cupp said. “But the policy is the tough part. Do you think in showing these kids so often, as often as we all do, we’re doing them a disservice because the policy is actually what’s going to change this? The passion, I fear, will just sound like noise after a while and people will tune it out.”
Stelter replied, “‘Disservice’ is a strong word, but when I was interviewing David Hogg only 10 days after the massacre, there were a few times I wanted to jump in and say, ‘Let’s correct that fact.’”
Although Stelter noted that “at one of the times” he did correct Hogg’s statement, he admitted that “other times I did not. There’s always that balance, how many times you’re going to interrupt.”
Cupp chimed in, saying that it’s “a very tricky thing” to learn how to handle interviews with Parkland survivors and victims of other tragedies.
“Yes — it’s a very tricky thing because this is a victim on the one hand who is entitled to his own emotional response,” Cupp said. “But at the same time, as news people, when we hear something demonstrably untrue, you want to go in and say, ‘But that’s not right.'”
Stelter noted that he did correct Hogg once during an interview February 25 on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” when the student claimed that NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch was the organization’s CEO.
“But there are other times when I think all of us can agree — any of these students, any of these parents — we want everybody to be as well-informed as we can about the contours of this debate,” Stelter said.
Stelter’s admission came more than a week after Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro took him and his network to task on “Reliable Sources” for failing to push back on the Parkland survivors’ mischaracterizations and falsehoods.
“The coverage of the gun debate has been absolutely egregious. And I don’t want to single out your network, but CNN’s been pretty bad on this from a conservative perspective,” Shapiro said as he bashed outlets for deciding “to single out certain events and not other events in order to make a particular case, or they allow certain people to go on TV and suggest that folks like Dana Loesch or people at the NRA are evil, don’t care, they’re terrorists, and there’s no pushback from the anchors.”
But Stelter isn’t the only CNN host who is having second thoughts about interviews with pro-gun control Parkland students and with Hogg in particular.
CNN’s Alisyn Camerota pushed back multiple times against Hogg’s hateful rhetoric about the NRA and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) during an interview Monday on “New Day.”
“You know, I want to talk to you about Sen. Marco Rubio because my eyes were opened when I was” at the March for Our Lives protest on Saturday, Camerota said to Hogg. “You guys have sort of targeted him as somebody who you don’t think is doing enough and who you sort of depict as being callous.”
After citing some of the protesters’ smears against Rubio, Camerota asked Hogg if he had been “unnecessarily provocative” himself. She also said, “Now that I’ve heard what [Rubio’s] doing behind the scenes … all I’m suggesting is that maybe your ire is misplaced, you know, since he is actually trying to work across the aisle.”
Camerota also called Hogg out on his rhetoric against the NRA, saying, “You said that the NRA is responsible for — is ‘allowing the slaughter’ of kids.'”
“Obviously, they don’t want the slaughter of children. NRA members have children themselves,” Camerota said. “Do you think that you are polarizing in saying things like that? And maybe it would help to get the NRA on board with some of what your asks are.”