On Wednesday, the Trump campaign sent a letter co-signed by Ellis to the network demanding a retraction. “It’s a stunt and a phony poll to cause voter suppression, stifle momentum and enthusiasm for the President,” the letter stated.
CNN said it stood by the poll.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time in its 40-year history that CNN had been threatened with legal action because an American politician or campaign did not like CNN‘s polling results,“ David Vigilante, the network‘s executive vice president and general counsel, wrote in response.
Ellis on Sunday accused the network of “putting out activism,” telling Stelter: “No pollster in the world would stand behind this as a legitimate poll, according to industry standards.”
Stelter defended the integrity of the poll. “That’s a normal polling procedure,” he said.
The conversation became increasingly heated after that. “Are you just going to interrupt me this whole time?” Ellis asked at one point.
“It’s important to interrupt when you share fake information,” Stelter said. He later told her: “You’re wasting my time.”
Ellis and Stelter also argued over a libel suit filed earlier this year by the campaign against CNN over an opinion piece that the campaign says contained false information.
Ellis tried to pin down Stelter on the question of whether it is ever OK to publish provably false statements, even in opinion columns. Stelter declined to be drawn into that debate, saying he was not the one being interviewed. “I’d still really like to know if @brianstelter thinks it’s okay to put out factually false statements on CNN or any media platform,” Ellis tweeted afterward.
At one point near the end of the interview, Stelter told Ellis she would eventually feel guilt over these “slurs“ against the media: “Someday, you‘re going to regret this when your kids and grandkids look back at this time.”
CNN’s poll last week was consistent with other polls in recent months that have regularly shown Trump trailing Biden, though CNN’s poll had a bigger margin than others. Polls have also shown Trump with a disapproval rating of more than 50 percent, including polls released Friday by The Hill/Harris X (53 percent disapproval) and Rasmussen Reports (55 percent). The most recent POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, released Wednesday, put Trump’s disapproval rate at 58 percent.
Trump has regularly attacked the integrity of polls that don‘t show him winning.
“I have retained highly respected pollster, McLaughlin & Associates, to analyze todays CNN Poll (and others), which I felt were FAKE based on the incredible enthusiasm we are receiving,” he tweeted last week. “Read analysis for yourself.“
In the 2016 election, Trump called out pollsters for projecting his loss. Most polls showed Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote by a small margin, which turned out to be accurate, but Trump prevailed in the Electoral College.