CNN's Brian Stelter explains how right-wing media's "anti-Mueller, anti-FBI feedback loop" with Trump works
Stelter: Conservative media commentators' anti-Mueller and anti-FBI rhetoric is dangerous and "sounds like propaganda"
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From the December 17 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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BRIAN STELTER (HOST): But first, [special counsel] Robert Mueller is investigating Russia's attack on the American election, but now he is under attack. And this new assault is not coming from Moscow. It's coming from Fox News headquarters right here in New York. And it's coming from the White House. It's an anti-Mueller, anti-FBI feedback loop, claiming that Mueller's probe is hopelessly biased and downright corrupt. Let's cue Fox.
RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY: I think what we have here is potentially one of the biggest scandals in American history where we're seeing our justice system being used to really change the outcome of an election.
STELTER: That's from Fox & Friends just today. Now let's cue Trump aide Kellyanne Conway last night.
KELLYANNE CONWAY: The fix was in against Donald Trump from the beginning. And they were pro-Hillary.
STELTER: This is the feedback loop in action. I want you to see it over and over again. Fox, Trump, his aides, GOP lawmakers, all of them, they're taking a legitimate issue, which is the discovery of a Mueller team member who expressed his hatred of Trump in text messages, and then they're blowing it up, trying to discredit the entire probe. Now remember, that team member was removed from the probe when the text messages were found. But every day it's something new, some new reason to claim the special counsel is illegitimate.
So as you watch the coverage, try to notice how this works. Notice how right-wing commentators and GOP lawmakers are echoing each other. And pay close attention to the banners on the bottom of Fox's screen. Last night -- I can't believe this -- Fox is asking if the FBI is engaged in a coup. This morning, the banner said the "investigators are in the hot seat." This isn't just an alternate reality. This is a reversal of reality. Obviously it's Trump world that is on the hot seat. Four Trump associates have been charged with crimes. Two of the four have pled guilty. Mueller is investigating a massive fire and everyone can see and smell the smoke. But this, instead, is what the president's hearing.
JEANINE PIRRO: The only thing that remains is whether we have the fortitude to not just fire these people immediately, but to take them out in cuffs.
STELTER: That is Jeanine Pirro, one of Trump's informal advisers, not just calling for firings but arrests. Look, I don't say this lightly but these FOT's, these friends of Trump, they are -- they're talking like propagandists. This sounds like propaganda, and it sounds dangerous. Pirro's demanding a "cleansing of the FBI." Sean Hannity's calling Mueller "the head of the snake." Other Fox hosts are calling the FBI corrupt and out of control. Rush Limbaugh's describing it as a coup, and guests on these programs are comparing the FBI to the KGB. The conservative media choir is telling Trump that "Mueller is out to get you, trying to reverse the outcome of the election." It doesn't get any more dangerous than that.