CNN host Brian Stelter on Monday night participated in a town hall at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, where he admitted that he has shared fake news stories by accident "like everybody else does."
Stelter was joined by Politico‘s Susan Glasser and the Washington Post‘s fact checker Glenn Kessler on the panel. They were having a discussion about the news industry and how access to news used to be scarce, but then transformed to reach people all around the world. Kessler and Glasser put more emphasis on the importance of consumers learning how to "identify poorly done journalism, fake news, other aspects of journalism."
Stelter appeared to acknowledge that they were correct in their analysis, but said he did not want to let the media off the hook for its coverage.
"I would make the case that media companies, the CEOs should be spending some more money on media literacy [and] on these educational initiatives that we are describing," Stelter said.
Stelter talked about technology companies giving consumers the Internet, the World Wide Web, and Facebook, but said they never really taught the consumers how to use the tools.
"If we step way back, do any of us really feel like we know how to use these tools, these incredible technologies?" Stelter asked. "I don't, and it's my job."
"I share fake stories by accident like everybody does," Stelter added.
Stelter wrote an article last November before the presidential election to advise news consumers on how they can protect themselves from fake news stories:
The rise of social media has had many upsides, but one downside has been the spread of misinformation. Fake news has become a plague on the Web, especially on social networks like Facebook. As I said on Sunday's "Reliable Sources" on CNN, unreliable sources about this election have become too numerous to count.So that's why I recommended a "triple check before you share" rule.New web sites designed to trick and mislead people seem to pop up every single day. For their creators, the incentives are clear: more social shares mean more page views mean more ad dollars.
But Stelter went against his own advice last December when he shared a viral video on Twitter that turned out to be false. He shared a video by famous YouTube hoaxer Adam Saleh, who claimed that he "got kicked out of a @Delta airplane because [he] spoke Arabic to [his] mom on the phone with [his] friend slim."
We got kicked out of a @Delta airplane because I spoke Arabic to my mom on the phone and with my friend slim… WTFFFFFFFF please spread pic.twitter.com/P5dQCE0qos— Adam Saleh (@omgAdamSaleh) December 21, 2016
Joe Concha, a reporter for the Hill, called him out on sharing the story, tweeting that it was not responsible for Stelter to share an "unsubstantiated" story.
I'm not sure it's responsible to promote an unsubstantiated story with many Qs that may/may not be false regardless of motive for doing so. https://t.co/npeVjcQsNa— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) December 21, 2016
Several of Stelter's followers followed suit in calling him out for sharing the story without any verification that it was real.