Accuracy in Media


Brian Stelter is back to trying to convince America that President Trump is crazy, but even he admitted – although suspiciously – that a recent segment on the topic of Trump’s mental health got out of hand. 

Stelter brought on Bandy Lee, a Yale psychiatrist who has for more than a year been peddling the notion she can diagnose Trump’s mental state through video of his public appearances and that the diagnosis is dangerously bad, and Dr. Allen Francis, former head of the psychiatry department at Duke University.  

Francis, who said he opposes psychiatrists violating the “Goldwater Rule” against diagnosing patients they had not seen but was willing to do so himself under these circumstances, said comparing Trump to the mentally ill is an insult to the mentally ill.  

“Well, I think medicalizing politics has three very dire consequences,” Francis said. “The first is that it stigmatizes the mentally ill. I’ve known thousands of patients. Almost all of them are well-behaved, well-mannered good people. Trump is none of these. Lumping that is a terrible insult to the mentally ill and they have enough problems and stigma as it is. 

“Second, calling Trump crazy hides the fact that we’re crazy for having elected him and even crazier for allowing his crazy policies to persist. Trump is as destructive a person in this century as Hitler, Stalin, Mao in the last century. He may be responsible for many millions more deaths than they were.” 

Mao is said to be responsible for 45 million deaths through his Great Leap Forward. Stalin is said to be responsible for 20 million deaths. Hitler is said to be responsible for 11 millionThat means Francis accused Trump of killing at least “many more million deaths” than the 76 million people those three allegedly killed, and Stelter did nothing to stop it or interrupt.  

Asked by a Twitter user why he didn’t stop and correct the figure right then, Stelter responded: “I agree that I should have interrupted after that line. I wish I had heard him say it, but I was distracted by tech difficulties (that’s why the show open didn’t look the way it normally does, I had two computers at the table, etc). Not hearing the comment is my fault. 

But video of the segment shows Stelter listening intently and not apparently distracted by anything as the professor segued from that into saying “He needs to be contained, but he needs to be contained by attacking his policies, not his person. It’s crazy for us to be destroying the climate our children will live in. It’s crazy to be giving tax cuts to the rich that will add trillions of dollars to the debt our children will have to pay. It’s crazy to be destroying our democracy by declaring that the press and the courts are the enemy of the people. We have to face these policies, not the person.” 

Frances says Trump won’t be removed by the 25th Amendment, so “Discussing the issue in psychological name-calling terms distracts us from getting out the vote.” 

At that point, Stelter interrupted to say he wasn’t “talking about name-calling. I’m talking about asking the question.” 

But as the Daily Beast pointed out, Stelter already had his answers.  

“CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter called on media outlets to focus more coverage on what he feels is President Trump’s obvious mental instability, saying Sunday morning that it is an issue we can no longer tiptoe around,” it wrote. 

“’He’s getting worse,’ Stelter said at the top of his weekend show focusing on the media, CNN’s Reliable Sources. “We can see it. It’s happening in public, but it’s still a very hard, very sensitive story to cover. I’m talking of course about President Trump, about his behavior, about his instability.” 

 




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