Ted Koppel gave CNN’s Brian Stelter a savage reality check about where the network would be without its continual diet of feeding on President Donald Trump.
The veteran journalist with over four decades of experience told Stelter directly that ratings at his network would be “in the toilet” without the president.
Koppel broke the news to Stelter during a panel discussion on journalism at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday as he explained the co-dependency of the press and the president. He was making the point that some top media executives have admitted that Trump has been good for business,d driving up ratings as they tune in to follow the latest coverage of the president and his administration.
“That means what?” Stelter interjected. “If ratings are up, that means what?”
“The ratings are up, that means you can’t do without Donald Trump,” Koppel replied. “You would be lost without Donald Trump.”
Stelter shook his head in disagreement.
“Ted, you know that’s not true,” he said.
“CNN’s ratings would be in the toilet without Donald Trump,” Koppel reiterated, drawing laughter from the audience.
“You know that’s not true. You’re playing for laughs,” Stelter fired back. “You’ve lived through enough presidencies to know. There will be more presidents.”
He estimated a 20-40 percent increase in viewership since Trump came to office, in response to Koppel’s question about the difference in ratings before and after Trump.
“If we go back down 40 percent, that’s okay too,” the “Reliable Sources” host added. “I reject the premise that these networks are making so much money off of Trump and thus, we benefit from it.”
Koppel, who anchored ABC News’ “Nightline” for 25 years, noted that MSNBC also spends a sizable amount of its airtime covering Trump, commenting that it was apparently a “sensitive subject” for Stelter.
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