On CNN's Reliable Sources, Arianna Huffington Explains How The Media Are Mainstreaming Trump's Extremism

Huffington: “By Not Challenging These Statements,” Media “Are Allowing Them To Become Part Of The Conversation, To Become Part Of The Mainstream”

From the April 3 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:

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BRIAN STELTER (HOST): First to your coverage of Trump, you all started out by covering him as entertainment, putting him in the entertainment section. Wasn't that a foolhardy move given that he's now the GOP front-runner?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Not at all. We think that he's a little bit like Kim Jong-Un. He's both a buffoon and he's dangerous. So we started covering him as a buffoon until the day when he proposed that we ban 1.6 billion Muslims from entering the United States. From that point on we started covering him as a clear and present danger with an editor's note at the end of each story.

STELTER: And we'll put that on screen so people can read it. In the editor's note you call him a racist, among other things. How can you possibly defend having an editor's note on stories about this candidate?

HUFFINGTON: Well we defend it by wanting to remind our readers every day that this man is escalating violence at his rallies, is proposing to ban an entire religion, he's making misogynistic comments, and he's the only presidential candidate ever who believes that Barack Obama was not born in this country. These are like extreme statements and unfortunately, the media are mainstreaming them.

STELTER: What do you mean by that?

HUFFINGTON: What I mean is that the media are -- by not challenging these statements again and again and again -- are allowing them to become part of the conversation, to become part of the mainstream, we're getting used to these absurdities, as Van Jones said. And look at the Bob Woodward interview in The Washington Post.

STELTER: This came out last night.

HUFFINGTON. Yes. Ninety-six minute interview and not once did he ask Donald Trump about the fact that he's a birther, about the fact he's advocating violence at his rallies.

STELTER: Aren't there so many topics to be asking about? I'm glad they're asking about other issues instead.

HUFFINGTON: No, no, no. I'm sorry, but these topics are rather important. If you're a birther, it's a little bit like a candidate who believes that the Earth is flat. It is something that is absolutely and unequivocally false.

STELTER: But isn't that why he should have never been assigned to the entertainment category? Kim Jong-Un is not covered in the entertainment category.

HUFFINGTON: The point about Donald Trump, is that we wanted to signal to our reporters and to our readers that we cannot cover him in a conventional way.

STELTER: And you're perhaps suggesting then that too many other media outlets are covering him in a conventional way?

HUFFINGTON: Well up until last week, last week was wonderful because as you showed, you had Anderson Cooper and Chris Matthews really challenging him and really pointing out that he's actually like a sleep deprived 5-year-old who has not taken his nap, and therefore, is rather cranky and irritable. The only problem is that this 5-year-old sleep deprived baby may actually have his little fingers on the nuclear button.


Donald Trump has the potential of destroying this country. That is really what is at stake here and the media need to wake up and start covering him like that.


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