Chicago Thinker staff writer Christopher Phillips appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight Friday evening after he confronted CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter over his network’s journalistic malfeasance. The clip of Philips’ question to Stelter at the “Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy” conference hosted by the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics has since garnered millions of views on social media and captured national attention.
Tucker first asked Phillips for his reasoning behind his viral question. “The way I have always been is to search for truth and ask questions, to sift through the lies and find out what is really going on,” responded Phillips.
He further recounted that Stelter discussed how Fox News was a “purveyor of disinformation” and deemed it the “enemy of the people.” Phillips remained unconvinced. “Wait a second, run that back because actually, CNN, from what I’ve seen at least, is probably ten times the purveyor of disinformation that [Stelter] claim[s] Fox News is,” he commented.
In the video, Phillips contextualized his question by pointing to several examples of dishonest reporting by CNN.
“You’ve all spoken extensively about Fox News being a purveyor of disinformation, but CNN is right up there with them. They pushed the Russian collusion hoax, they pushed the Jussie Smollet hoax. They smeared Justice Kavanaugh as a rapist and they also smeared Nick Sandmann as a white supremacist. And yes, they dismissed the Hunter Biden laptop affair as pure ‘Russian disinformation,” he said.
Phillips then asked, “With mainstream corporate journalists becoming little more than apologists and cheerleaders for the regime, is it time to finally declare that the canon of journalistic ethics is dead, or no longer operative?”
Stelter responded that it was “time for lunch.” He proceeded to brush aside Phillips’ question, dismissing his criticisms as “a popular right-wing narrative” and claiming that Phillips was “describing a different channel than the one that I [Stelter] watch.”
Carlson and Phillips both expressed surprise over Stelter’s refusal to acknowledge CNN’s journalistic failures. “You know, some of the examples that you [Phillips] threw at him, you know, are subjective – I agreed with your take on [them]. But some of them were just objective. Like, CNN did dismiss Hunter Biden’s laptop as Russian disinformation,” Tucker said. “Wouldn’t it have been better if he [had] said, ‘Yeah […] I got that wrong. You know, I’m sorry about that.’ Wouldn’t that have worked?”
“I did kind of expect him to say, you know, ‘We retracted those stories and we apologize for saying that. We always, you know, […] try to keep a clean record,” Phillips responded. “But there was no apology, there was no remorse whatsoever.”
Phillips expressed frustration at what he perceived to be a disingenuous deflection by Stelter. “It’s just, you know, ‘I don’t know what news network you’re talking about – that’s not mine,’” he said, mimicking the CNN anchor. “When in reality, [Stelter] said these things on CNN. It’s all documented.”
Toward the end of the segment, Carlson asked Phillips about how UChicago’s campus received his question and the subsequent media attention. “Well, you know, there’s a lot of social pressure to conform to the leftist narrative – to conform to the radical agenda at college campuses,” Phillips said, adding that “just working for the ChicagoThinker really is kind of inviting you to be ‘canceled’ in a sense.” Despite this social pressure and some negative feedback from his peers, Phillips noted that many students feel his inquiry was reasonable and honest.
Phillips concluded the interview by adding that although not everybody was “satisfied” with his question, his aim was to pursue journalistic accountability. “Regardless,” he said, “I think I did a good thing in asking Brian ‘what gives?’ as to CNN’s bias.”
Perry Zhao is an editor for the Chicago Thinker. He is currently a third-year in the College majoring in Economics and Philosophy and minoring in History. He hopes to attend law school after graduation and has co-authored a legal report cited by The Wall Street Journal. An amateur guitarist and avid runner, Perry ran the Chicago Half-Marathon in September.