My Last Dance With Brian Stelter
I did my talking head thing once on Brian Stelter’s CNN Show–the hilariously, ironically named “Reliable Sources” at the end of March 2017. The interview concerned Judge Andrew Napolitano and his suspension from Fox News for reporting that Britain’s version of the National Security Agency, General Communications Headquarters aka GCHQ, had intercepted communications of Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign and shared that intelligence with the NSA.
GCHQ, by virtue of being a foreign entity, can (and does) easily and routinely collect electronic communications information in the United States. The Brits can do this without having to worry about FISA courts, probable cause, etc. Want proof? Here is the NY Times piece on 17 March 2017 that cites one example:
The conspiracy theorizing also tested what is often called the special relationship between the United States and Britain. American intelligence agencies enjoy a closer collaboration with their British counterparts than any other in the world. GCHQ was the first agency to warn the United States government that Russia was hacking Democratic Party emails during the presidential campaign
But that is not the point of this article. I want to focus on Stelter’s accusation that I was a shill of the Russians and was delivering their propaganda. He insisted that RT was controlled by the Russian Government.
I have long experience as a TV talking head. I made my first appearance as a pundit on CNN in mid-August 1994 following the capture of Carlos the Jackal. I was a hit. I followed the fundamental rules of TV punditry–look into the camera like you’re looking at your beloved, keep your finger out of your nose and don’t say fuck. Mission accomplished. And I demonstrated my skill in offering up a pithy sound bite when I referred to Carlos the Jackal as “Terrorist Emeritus.”
In the weeks and months that followed, I appeared frequently on CNN, MSNBC, CBS Sixty Minutes, ABC News Nightline, NBC, National Public Radio, the BBC and the Jim Lehrer News Hour. In December 1999, NBC hired me as their terrorism analyst and I got to sit next to Tom Brokaw in Times Square on New Years Eve 1999 waiting for the Year 2000 computer apocalypse (which never came). After 9-11, I spent a year as a paid Fox News analyst. Made my mother and father happy.
I share this simply to point out that I have extensive experience in dealing with TV media. When Stelter insisted I was being a Russian shill I pointed out (as you can see in the video) that the only media outlet I appeared on that did not do a pre-interview to determine what I was going to say was and is RT. There were multiple times when I would get a call from the BCC or CBS or Fox or CNN saying they wanted me to go on a show to talk about some terrorist incident or the war in Iraq. After they heard what I intended to say they suddenly discovered they no longer needed me.
That has never happened with RT. RT never asks me in advance what I am going to say. I have been critical of Putin in some of my RT appearances. Guess what? I have been invited back and allowed to speak my mind. I am not suggesting that RT is without bias. It is a pro-Russian channel. But it is not afraid to let a potential loose cannon like me come on air and voice what I think.
In my opinion, the only genuine Reliable Source on TV and the internet is RT. That is my experience. Farewell Mr. Stelter. You will not be missed.