Brian Stelter Ominously Warns 2020 Election Is ‘Test of American Democracy’ and ‘Failure Means Succumbing to Fantasy and Conspiracy Theory’


CNN’s Brian Stelter called out the 2020 election as no less than a “test for American democracy” and in a thinly-veiled shot at President Donald Trump’s campaign, warned that “failure means succumbing to fantasy and conspiracy theory and hate and division.”

In a long soliloquy at the beginning of Stelter’s show on the last Sunday before Election Day, the CNN media critic laid out what he saw as the very serious stakes of the presidential race.

“The coming days are a test of American democracy,” Stelter said. “America passes this test by staying tied, tethered, secured to the truth. America may fail this test if lying politicians and propagandists drown out what’s true and replace it with what they want to be true. Failure means succumbing to fantasy and conspiracy theory and hate and division, and there is already too, too much of this that. District distrust is so high…in polls, in politicians, in the press, in each other. This country needs a trust injection. A trust infusion. Maybe it starts right here. In these lines.”

That last sentence was uttered as the screen showed six different shots of people queued up to vote across the country, where some states, like Texas, have seen massive turnout that has already eclipsed the total 2016 vote.

“If you feel like you are living through a war on the truth, you are not alone. The last four years have been a daily assault. I could spend this entire hour simply fact-checking and debunking the past week of presidential mendacity,” Stelter said, before also calling out the how the president and Fox News work as a feedback loop of falsehoods. “Trump is like an improve actor making it along. Oblivious to the truth. He is addicted to TV shows that tell him he is right when he is wrong. He is misled by Fox and Fox & Friends and then he misleads everyone else.”

He then warned viewers to watch for election disinformation and misleading claims in the final 48 hours of the campaign.

“So in the coming days look out for bad-faith actors spreading disinformation, look out for domestic disinformation, Twitter armies that try to make a fringe idea seem popular. Look out for argument-by-anecdote tactics. They try to claim voter fraud is widespread when it is not,” he explained.

“The president and his allies are making a sport of plucking minor incidents from local news feeds and distorting them into data points of a grand conspiracy,” he added, before referring to one of Trump’s oft-repeated conspiracy theories. “He tells his fans that Joe Biden cannot win unless the Democrats cheat. That smelly little lie is fundamentally why this election is a test for America. And a test for the American media. Truth is on the ballot. Truth is actually always on the ballot.”

But Stelter also pointed out that, despite the asymmetric dishonesty from then Trump and his campaign, “Democrats don’t own a copyright on the truth. Democrats have lied to us before. They will do it again.”

“The media’s adversarial approach that you’ve seen during the Trump years, calling out lies, that approach serves us well no matter who holds high office,” Stelter proclaimed. “Of course, different degrees of deception deserve to be treated differently. A delusional president is a much bigger deal than a candidate who merely dodges questions. But in all cases, the media must challenge power and the media must stay on the side of the truth.”

Watch the video above, via CNN.

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