“A Harm Reduction Model”: CNN’s Brian Stelter Offers A Perfectly Orwellian Attack On Free Speech And Freedom Of The Press

We have seen in the last four years how rage has replaced reason for many experts.  Legal experts who long defended criminal defense rights have suddenly become advocates of the most sweeping interpretations of criminal or constitutional provisions while discarding basic due process  and fairness concerns. Academics who teach journalism have called for an abandonment of neutrality and objectivity. The Democratic Party itself has become the champion of censorship. Even in this company, CNN’s media expert Brian Stelter is a standout. Stelter has been regularly criticized for alleged bias but this week Stelter offered an argument for limiting both free speech and the free press that would have kept George Orwell up at night. Stelter told his viewers that they really do not have to talk about censorship and simply should refer to reductions of free speech as “a harm reduction model.”

Stelter mocked those who have raised concerns over censorship and assured CNN’s viewers that there is nothing to fear from campaigns to censor and ban speakers. In addition, he appeared to defend campaigns to have Fox News dropped from cable carriers. (For the record, I recently joined Fox as a contributor).

Stelter explained “Reducing a liar’s reach is not the same as censoring freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is different than freedom of reach — and algorithmic reach is part of the problem.”  He further explained that it is simply an effort toward “reducing information pollution” and should be referred to as a “harm reduction model.”

The distinction between freedom of speech and freedom of reach is an obvious effort to repackage anti-free speech efforts in a less offensive light. Indeed, it sounds like a media version of the “Green New Deal” to cut back on viewpoint “pollution.” It is like saying that you are not denying the freedom of travel, just the means of travel.  It is all meant to assure viewers that they are not bad people for wanting to silence others. Indeed, it is commendable to limit free speech, which is now treated as nothing more than “pollution” when used by some on the right.

Stelter also brushed aside the facts on the recent campaign against Fox. He assured CNN viewers that “Most of the criticism of Fox News is not aimed at shutting it down, which will never happen anyway.It’s about making Fox better. Putting the news back in Fox News. They keep going the other way. If Fox is gonna keep transitioning into the ’24/7 Tucker Channel,’ then maybe it belongs next to SciFi on your channel lineup, not MSNBC.”

Stelter is just trying to “make Fox better” . . . and more like CNN.

In reality, there is an effort to pressure cable carriers to drop Fox. This includes New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof who insisted that “cable providers should be asked why they distribute channels that peddle lies.” Washington Post columnist and CNN analyst Max Boot also wrote that cable providers should “step in and kick Fox News off.” He added that it may be necessary to also block Newsmax and One America News Network.

The campaign is not surprising for those in the free speech movement. I have long opposed the calls for censorship under the pretense of creating “an honest Internet.”  We have have been discussing how writerseditorscommentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and his key advisers. The erosion of free speech has been radically accelerated by the Big Tech and social media companies. The level of censorship and viewpoint regulation has raised questions of a new type of state media where companies advance an ideological agenda with political allies.

It is a familiar pattern. It is not enough to control speech on many platforms if there remains an alternative source of information. If you want to control speech, you have to not only regulate viewpoints but eliminate alternative sources for viewpoints. For example, when Twitter blocked the Hunter Biden story before the election, it was only partially successful since viewers could turn to the New York Post or Fox for the story.

Ironically, Stelter may be correct that shutting down “the reach” of opposing viewpoints would reduce the harm of free speech for many like Stelter. Stelter has been repeatedly criticized for ignoring stories that were harmful to the Biden campaign or CNN itself. Such echo-chamber coverage works so long as no one leaves the echo chamber. For many on CNN and MSNBC, there is little danger. Viewers tune into some networks on the assurance that they will not be challenged outside of their political comfort zone. The Washington Post and other outlets have not corrected clearly false accounts and it is not even clear that readers want to see such corrections. It is the sad reality of siloed news in our new age of yellow journalism. While faith in the news is at an all-time low, the echo journalism preserves a loyal viewer or reader base. Experts assure them that Trump can be easily convicted or impeached.  Constitutional scholars insist that long-standing questions are in fact absolutely clear and unambiguous. However, that system works best when there is not readily available alternatives for news.

There was a day when a journalist would be widely condemned for seeking to curtail access to other media outlets. I would be the first tpo object to such a campaign against CNN or MSNBC. Yet, Stelter’s comments are applauded as many in the media eagerly saw away at the limb upon which they are sitting.


140 thoughts on ““A Harm Reduction Model”: CNN’s Brian Stelter Offers A Perfectly Orwellian Attack On Free Speech And Freedom Of The Press”

  1. What is lacking in this system is not really absent if if you back up each point with reliable sources such as Just Facts and turn your back on unreliable sources such as the one used by CNN, This in turn leads to the socialist professors and in turn again to the 2,000 plus higher education institutions existing on Government Party graft of taxpayer funds and waste of such funds, At present I can find only two such who refuse to accept any government fuinding, Hillsdale in Michigan and one other in Western Pennsylvania. Second place goes to hard sciences which no longer includes meteorology or weather. The latter easily solved by a low cost book of weather pictures. One faces into the wind the page most resembling reality and read the accompanying forecast. Once again Frank Zappa is more astute than CNN.

  2. Looks like Stelter found his calling: Propaganda Minister

    Job description: Punish those whose speech extends beyond the reach of his stubby arms.

    1. Too bad there is no vaccine for the endemic ignorance apparent on the state sponsored media outlets. Although in CNN’s case it is probably incurable.

  3. “Tribalism” is a fact of life and has been around for over 2000 years. Tribalism supersedes ethics, morals and human decency. It all depends on how one perceives their “tribe” – it could racial, ethnic, political party, occupation (cop v. citizen), religious denomination, city-folks vs. rural-folks, straight vs. gay, constitutionalist vs. authoritarian, Conservative vs. Progressive or any other group.

    There are more than 300 million Americans in the United States and we will never all agree on everything and that’s perfectly fine. We should be trying to minimize the harmful parts of tribalism. We should be investing more in American Civics Education, Civility and Critical Thinking so we don’t view those that disagree with us (from a different tribe) are perceived as the enemy or sub-human.

    We could also have more “Referendum-Elections” to prioritize issues that Americans, from all parties, support. For example: Republican voters that supported Richard Nixon healthcare plan would also support Biden’s plan today but it’s the wrong tribe this time. Many Democrats support 2nd Amendment gun rights and limited constitutional government. Voters of both Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan supported humane treatment of all undocumented immigrants. Ronald Reagan would have opposed the Bush torture program. Voters of both parties supported equal rights for LGBT-Americans (ex: Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson). Tribalism makes it so that we sometimes vote against some issues most Americans support.

    George Washington, in his farewell address, essentially warned that if political parties devolved into self-destructive “tribalism” it would lead to “riots and insurrection”. We can’t solve tribalism but we can invest in education, a free press and upholding the constitutional rule of law.

  4. Pot and kettle.
    I recall the original CNN, which hired good journalists to report the news. But by the late 1990s, it was already largely a propaganda platform, with less and less real news and more and more op.ed. disguised as news. This, generally, is now the case with most of its coverage, if that is the correct term for what it broadcasts. Oddly, The Federalist is now a more reliable news platform than CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, or just about any other main news outlet, and it is clearly has a point of view. The difference is that it makes that point of view clear and does not pretend that its opinion is hard news, which, alas, is difficult to find now, among all the infomercials, opinion pieces, misinformation, disinformation, slanted reporting, and propaganda on most of the media.

  5. So how harmful was it for ABC to describe the attempted arson of a courthouse in Portland as a “peaceful demonstration” that “intensif[ied]”?

    How harmful was it for CNN to use a chryon reading” Fiery But Mostly Peaceful Protests After Police Shooting”?

  6. Why would anyone who considers themselves a crusader for free speech vote for the very party that promotes censorship and cancel culture?

    It’s a quandary. It’s perfectly understandable for a Republican or Libertarian to fight for free speech. It is, after all, central to their values. But from time to time we hear Democrats who claim to fight for free speech, yet they keep voting for the party that would ban it. They must know that putting Democrats in power will extinguish the right to free speech.

    Allowing Democratic-controlled companies to become powerful effectively squashed free speech through social media communication. They coordinate nicely with the Democrat government.

    It seems to be what Democrats do with any power, whether it’s a teacher in a classroom or a FBI director. Use that power to promote a Democrat agenda, and silence critics.

    1. To be fair there are still a very few moderate Democrat politicians who oppose cancel culture. But they are steamrolled by the direction of their party in general. They have no influence.

      1. This needs to be repeated.

        The cancel culture faction of the Left took over leadership due in no small part to support from media, entertainment, and academic elites.

        The cancel culture faction of the Religious Right never had this power because they lacked the support of media, entertainment, and academic elites.

    2. re: Karen S

      There are single-issue voters, where one issue determines their vote and it happens in both parties. Voters of both parties might support a national “Referendum-Election” on off-election years to prioritize the issues politicians respond to. Some issues are bi-partisan.

    -Addresses oppression inherent in interstate highways; Party is most tolerant organization in human history

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Party today announced the confirmation of Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation. As the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Mr. Buttigieg is the most qualified Transportation Secretary in the Party’s history.

    Mr. Buttigieg, 38, lives in South Bend with his husband, the former Chasten Glezman. Mr. Buttigieg came out as gay in June 2015. He was the first elected official in Indiana to come out while in office, and is the highest elected official in Indiana to come out. The Buttgeigs met on the dating site Hinge in August 2015 and were married on June 16, 2018 at the Cathedral of St. James in South Bend in a private ceremony. A video of the ceremony, which is highlighted by the appearance of the couple and their wedding party in striking black tuxedos, is available for streaming on Party affiliate YouTube.

    South Bend is the fourth-largest city in Indiana and serves as the transportation hub of Michiana. Nearly 10 miles of I-90, the nation’s longest interstate, crosses the northern edge of the city. Among the numerous high profile municipal projects championed by “Mayor Pete” was the City’s Smart Sewers project, which has been mostly successful in preventing raw sewage from reaching the St. Joseph River. The river, which winds its way through the city’s vital urban core, was a critical transportation link for the region’s Native Americans prior to their brutal subjugation by racist 19th century colonial oppressors.

    Through the foresight of visionaries like Mayor Pete, marginalized communities in South Bend reap the transportation benefits of a major urban waterway while being largely spared from the structural oppression of our interstate highways. South Bend will serve as the progressive model for reimagining our nation’s transportation system, which currently stands as a shameful reminder of America’s responsibility for the global climate change emergency.

    The Party also commends the Buttigiegs for their courage in coming out in a state like Indiana, which has long been governed by dangerous religious zealots such as former vice president Mike Pence. Mayor Pete’s appointment sends a strong message that those who are not fully committed to Party doctrine have no place in a progressive society. The Party is the most inclusive and tolerant organization in human history.

    Blog moderators and readers will recognize that the foregoing is intended as satire to foster discussion on important issues relating to the role of the government, the rule of law, and free speech.

  8. CNN is not the CNN that used to be.

    The days of the cable news network, (CNN) are long gone.

    From my vantage point, CNN is the ideology, opinion, and sprinkled with some news to justify the narrative. Unfortunately, MSNBC and FOX are not too far apart.

    Maybe there is a Ted Turner out there willing to create the 21st century of a news network. News, and facts; nothing more. A source of information to allow viewers to develop their opinions.

    1. We have CSPAN….that unfortunately has changed and declined since the departure of its founder Brian Lamb, who said this as a parting shot at Washington DC:

      “Lying is the word that I would use to describe this town…”

  9. The military leaders in Myanmar are patriots with acumen, courage and resolve who care about their country; its thesis and its constitution.

  10. The trolls aren’t taking questions today. I sense they are instead baiting us away from discussing Stelter.

    Maybe this is a coordinated-troll tactic? Are there dark forces with big hairy feet at the bottom of all this?

    Maybe they believe JT is right and don’t want to admit it?

    1. Are there dark forces with big hairy feet at the bottom of all this?

      The Children! Think of the Children!


      It appears YouTube is yet again censoring channels but now this time the US Senate. Intriguing.
      More intriguing is why Americans continue to depend on these social media sites.
      There are other ways to gain information, ya know

      YouTube Cancels the U.S. Senate
      It censors testimony from physicians on early treatments for Covid-19 patients.


      While the use of ivermectin is kinda whacky, if it works, it works. Doctors use all kinds of drugs off label where the mechanisms are unknown.

      It is comical though that liberals and conservatives for decades excoriated the Catholic Church for being too authoritarian, too dogmatic and old fashioned.

      Welllll, now that Americans free will has run amok, how’s that working for ya? Mangia mangia!

      1. Estovir, explain why YouTube wants to suppress information that would would be helpful to overcoming the pandemic. ..Like Silicon Valley wants to drag-out the pandemic..? Like people in California ‘want’ to wear masks? Like people in California want an excuse ‘not ‘ to go back to their gyms?

        Right now I’m having to wear a mask on a very hot day while wearing a very hot, wool suit. Boy this is fun! I hope the pandemic never ends. ..Not..!

        1. One would think Silicon Valley, and prominent Democrats like Biden, would not be so irresponsible as to sow fear about the Covid-19 vaccine.

          And yet they did, in an effort to undermine Trump. After Biden was sworn in, they reversed course and poo poohed how many are afraid to try this new vaccine.

          Silicon Valley does not always act in an ethical or moral manner.

          1. Karen S,
            I haven’t subscribed to the WSJ so I cannot read the whole article, but the issue does not seem to be about vaccines:

            “At the December hearing, he presented evidence regarding the use of ivermectin, a cheap and widely available drug that treats tropical diseases caused by parasites, for prevention and early treatment of Covid-19. He described a just-published study from Argentina in which about 800 health-care workers received ivermectin and 400 didn’t. Not one of the 800 contracted Covid-19; 58% of the 400 did.”

        2. Are they trying to draw people’s attention to the treatment or to the censorship? Or,
          Are they really trying to censor information?

          “explain why YouTube wants to suppress information that would would be helpful to overcoming the pandemic”

          A cynical response would be to echo Inspector Finch–‘Would you really want to know?” 🙁

      2. We use ivermectin as an anthelmintic regularly in horses to treat parasites. It is also used to treat coyotes with mange, although carefully.

        It’s used for a variety of things. I would be surprised if it helped fight Covid-19, but if it shows any promise, study it.

        After all, Covid is just the most recent pandemic. Why wouldn’t there be more, with some regularity, given the global nature of travel and commerce in modern times?

        1. Karen S.,
          “It’s used for a variety of things. I would be surprised if it helped fight Covid-19, but if it shows any promise, study it.”

          One of the studies I read indicated that it blocked the docking site on the virus spike protein:
          In Vivo. Sep-Oct 2020;34(5):3023-3026. “Ivermectin Docks to the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Receptor-binding Domain Attached to ACE2.” Steven Lehrer # 1, Peter H Rheinstein # 2

          1. Karen wrote: “It’s used for a variety of things. I would be surprised if it helped fight Covid-19, but if it shows any promise, study it.”

            Agreed. Again, the mechanism of action (MOA) of many drugs available on the market today are not understood well. Statins MOA involves the inhibiting of an enzyme involved in the endogenous synthesis of cholesterol. However, high intensity statins are now the “go to” drug for inhibiting inflammation in coronary arteries even if hyperlipidemia is not in play. The MOA of these statins (Atorvastatin, Rosuvastatin, Pitavastatin) is less than clear. Yet, when a patient has had a cardiac event or has had a stent, and aspirin is not enough, a statin is given to them even if they lack a history of elevated cholesterol, e.g. HIV associated atherosclerosis. No one shakes a stick at this paradigm because it works

            Prairie wrote: One of the studies I read indicated that it blocked the docking site on the virus spike protein:

            Have you considered going to medical school? I think you might have a vocation to medicine. Think about it

            54-year-old medical student at Wake Forest School of Medicine is living her dream

  11. The fact in evidence which is to say the clearly demonstrated lack of ethics serve t prove the stawtement while the socialists continue to fail to prove human status.

  12. CNN, the purveyor of lies and misinformation: “”You don’t have a first amendment right to lie.”

  13. Someone call the police.

    Congress is committing a crime.

    It is illegal for Congress to impeach a private citizen.

    It is only legal for Congress to impeach “THE” president, per the Constitution, which is the fundamental law.

    Arrest every congressman who criminally votes on illegal impeachment.

    Arrest the derelict Supreme Court which must have struck down this illegal impeachment upon the refusal of the Chief Justice to execute his solemn constitutional duty and preside over this illegal act.

    After the theft of the 2020 presidential election and this looming illegal impeachment, America is no longer a nation of laws.

    America now resembles Myanmar.

  14. I wonder as always what would happen if someone came and took Stelter’s platform from Him because they did not agree with him or thought he was too provocative. I am willing to bet Stelter would not be good with someone else deciding his fate.

    Would be censors always have the same underlying excuse, to help society for their own good. My problem, I did not ask anyone to think for me. If I do not like what I am reading, I can always read something else. If I do not like what I hear on the radio or see on television, I can always change the channel.

    So I have one suggestion, let us try the “harm reduction model” and see if it works. Let us start with Stelter and see if the harm is reduced. He should be OK with that because we are taking his suggestion.

    I bet not.

    1. Not Sorry. I do not value anything from the Anti Constitutionalist Communist prone Socialist media. My Oath of Office to our Constitutional Republic and the Constitution remains firm and unshaken. I hold no allegiance at all to any ‘thing’ else especially when the ‘thing’ routinely takes then just as routinely fails to honor falsely that same oath or worse routinely fails to take that same oath but then acts as if they were a real member of Congress or the Government. or a true citizen for that matter. As another form of our oath went. “I am an American Fighting Man I serve in the forces which guard in the country and keep it free….. ” Something I do not share with the current members of the military.

      1. OK, let’s take a different tack. Stelter is a demagoguing fraud who wants to censor so nobody can dispute his hypocrisy. Your move.

  15. There can be no doubt whatsoever that the lies put out by Fox, especially those articulated by the liar-in-chief, Trump, and Fox’s endless attacks against Democrats, contributed to the Trump Insurrection that left 5 people dead and our Capitol desecrated. That event should have been a turning point in this country, but pro-Trump outlets won’t allow that–they put out the lie that ANTIFA, masquerading as Trumpsters, really were responsible for the Trump Insurrection. That has been disproven. Fox has blood on its hands, but it has money, too. So, now Turley has officially joined Fox as a “contributor”– of what, exactly–the daily parade of lies and liars? Turley’s opinions are clearly purchased, and when the money’s right, he has no qualms about doing a 180 on positions he previously held. Probably right now Turley’s “expertise” has been purchased to counter the gory details of the Trump Insurrection, in an effort to mitigate Trump’s dirty hands, all while Turley pretends that he hasn’t previously opined that impeachment after leaving office is perfectly constitutional. No doubt they want him to throw shade on opinions by Professor Laurence Tribe. As if he’s anywhere near in the same league. Here’s a query for you, Turley–whose name is on Constitutional Law texts and hornbooks used in law schools? It ain’t Turley’s name. And, now that you’ve officially sold your soul, it never will be. In the end, you will do more damage to your reputation than it’s worth, and it can never be reclaimed. Everything Trump touches, dies. Ask Rick Wilson.

    1. Natacha is the false name of a non human Has never provided one shred of evidence to the contrary..

    2. Thank you for confirming that the mostly peaceful insurrection was, indeed, fomented by antifa. I had my doubts until you plainly stated it for me.

      Thank you for the positive and helpful contribution.

      1. well the problem there is that the quick to conclusion people came to the conclusion that it was the cop on the neck which killed George Floyd. It was not. That man had a more than double fatal dose of Fentanyl in his bloodstream. He died of an overdose. Note that the autopsy did not conclude that he died of asphyxiation. The toxicology report did not come in for a couple weeks. People drew wrong conclusions. The man had been in jail 9 times for drug offences, so it isnt hard to believe. Also video not widely shown shows that when sitting in the police car before he was brought out, he was already having breathing problems, typical of an opioid overdose.

Leave a Reply