By:
July 19, 2021

The Sunday morning TV segment getting lots of buzz is the exchange between Trump book author Michael Wolff and CNN “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter.

In his new book, “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency,” Wolff claimed that Fox founder and boss Rupert Murdoch signed off on Fox News calling Arizona for Joe Biden during the election. Fox News has denied that assertion and Stelter, who wrote a book about Fox News, recently tweeted, “There’s simply no evidence that the Murdochs had anything to do with it, and ample evidence to the contrary.”

So when that topic came up on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources,” Wolff told Stelter, “It is an interesting thing that week after week all you do is question Fox, question its veracity, question its honor, question et cetera et cetera, but suddenly now you think that they might be honest to a fault.”

Stelter responded with “I’ve never questioned the decision desk, the professionals who made the call.”

The two then continued a back-and-forth about Murdoch’s role on election night and another Wolff book assertion — that Fox News’ anchor Bill Hemmer called Trump adviser Jason Miller to give the Trump campaign a heads up on the network’s Arizona call. That also was denied by Fox News, but Miller later said that did happen.

After a few questions about Murdoch, Fox News and Trump, Wolff then sounded off on the media, including Stelter.

“I think the media has done a terrible job on this,” Wolff said. “I think you, yourself — you’re a nice guy — you’re full of sanctimony. You have become one of the parts of the problem of the media. You come on here and you have a monopoly on truth, so you know exactly how things are supposed to be done. You are one of the reasons people can’t stand the media. Sorry. It’s your fault.”

Stelter laughed and then asked Wolff what he should do differently.

Wolff said, “Don’t talk so much. Listen more. You know people have genuine problems with the media. The media doesn’t get the story right. The media exists in its own bubble.”

Up until then, Wolff was doing OK, offering up criticism of all media, but then he swerved off the road, talking about how the media is the flip side of Trump and that it’s “virtuous news.”

After one more shot at Stelter, Wolff was (smartly) asked by Stelter, “Then why did you bother coming on CNN a few times this week?”

Wolff paused and said, “You know, I’m a book salesman.”

There were some interesting reactions to the interview, including:

MSNBC’s Joy Reid, who tweeted, “1. Rupert Murdoch hates Trump but he loves money, and that’s why @FoxNews is all-in on Trump despite Murdoch (not caring) about him. 2.Trump is a ‘crazy man who became president’ and the media has no bloody idea how to handle that.”

And The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, who tweeted, “Wolff actually makes some salient points here before it goes off into a different place.”

This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for Poynter.org. He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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