Veteran ABC News reporter Ted Koppel laid into CNN Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter Monday during a National Press Club discussion on “Journalism in the age of Trump.”
Koppel highlighted that the constant flow of Trump news has sustained Stelter’s network and that without him CNN, MSNBC and other media outlets “would be lost.”
Scroll to 25:10 for the key segment.
Media analyst Mark Dice looks at the ratings and demonstrates how Trump coverage has catapulted CNN’s numbers, compared to viewership during Obama’s reign.
Here’s a transcript of the exchange:
Ted Koppel: I think we’ve left out a keyword. Everybody here keeps talking about ideology and politics. Money. Money. Donald Trump has been ‘berry, berry good for baseball.’ He’s been wonderful for the industry.
Your boss [Jeff Zucker] acknowledged as much a number of months ago during the campaign… Les Moonves also acknowledged it, but so did the head of CNN.
Brian Stelter: But that means what? If ratings are up, that means what?
Koppel: Oh, the ratings are up, it means you can’t do without Donald Trump. You would be lost without Donald Trump. CNN’s ratings would be in the toilet without Donald Trump.
Stelter: That’s not true. You know that’s not true. You’re playing for laughs.
Koppel: It is.
Stelter: You’ve lived through enough presidencies to know there will be more presidents.
Koppel: Hold on a second, Brian. What were the ratings before Trump and what are the ratings now?
Stelter: I would say we might be up 20, we might be up 30, we might be up 40 percent. If we go down 40 percent, that’ll be OK too.
[awkward pause then audience laughter]
Stelter: I reject the premise that these networks are making so much money off of Trump and thus we benefit from it.
Koppel: Tell me for a moment if you will, let’s get away from CNN then, alright? Sensitive subject. Let’s go to MSNBC. Is there a moment of the day when they are not focusing on Donald Trump, or some intimately related subject. It is essentially – oh, I know every once in a while, you know, if the number of people who died in Indonesia gets up to 100 they’ll give it a mention or two – but by and large, the only news that’s covered program after program after program – with the same guests!