Thursday afternoon CNN announced that it is cancelling it’s longest running program, and the only credible media analysis show on TV, “Reliable Sources.” It’s host, Brian Stelter, has also announced that he will leave the network.
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This Sunday will be the last episode of Reliable Sources. The decision comes shortly after CNN’s parent, Warner Bros., was bought by Discovery Networks, whose CEO David Zaslov is notoriously conservative. Discovery also has on its board of directors John Malone, a longtime right-winger and Trump supporter.
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The new company hired former “Late Show” producer Chris Licht to run the network. And while that might have seemed like a promising choice, Licht has been making statements about how he is more interested in cutting back on news analysis in favor of just presenting a dryer, context-free brand of straight news.
If they think that trying to stake out a neutral position is going to garner them more ratings or respect, they haven’t been paying attention. The right is going to demonize them no matter what they say if it less than wholly adoring of the right-wing, ultra-MAGA narrative. They already regard bland, non-partisan news readers like Wolf Blitzer as radical lefties. They think Joe Manchin is a socialist. Given the blind, knee-jerk biases of their conservative critics, it makes no sense to try to mollify them. Journalistic ethics requires a commitment to reporting the truth, even when it means calling liars liars. Especially when it means calling liars liars.
Reliable Sources has been an island in a rocky media sea where so many of the players are either slanted to the right or consumed by the need to “balance” stories with conservative lies just to avoid being perceived as “liberal.” CNN could not have picked a worse time ditch a program that helped people become more media literate. Phony neutrality will be perceived as weakness and will shortchange the audience who need more contextualization, not less.
The impact of this cancelation can be assessed by the reactions of the right-wing pundits who never watched it. Twitter was trending all afternoon with derogatory remarks about the program and its host that aren’t worth repeating here. Suffice to say that they were uniformly infantile and devoid of any actual substance.
For its part, Fox News had two stories about the cancelation on their website. They were titled “Brian Stelter out at CNN as network cancels media show ‘Reliable Sources'” and “‘Later, Tater!’ Twitter says goodbye to Brian Stelter after CNN cancels his show.” Both articles reinforced the Fox News hatred for professional journalism standards. And it’s notable that there were two of these articles on CNN, but not a single story on the website’s front page about the CFO of The Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, pleading guilty to 15 felonies. UPDATE: There have two more stories on CNN, but still no story on Weisselberg.
While right-wingers across the InterTubes are celebrating the news of Stelter’s departure as if it was an obituary, Stelter is actually going to be pretty busy. Setting aside whatever new TV role he may assume, he is currently a producer of “The Morning Show” on Apple TV+, a successful adaptation of his book, “Top of the Morning.” It stars Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell, and has received eight Emmys and 53 nominations. He is also the author of the bestseller, “Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth.”
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It is disappointing that CNN would cancel this unique program at this time. And it portends trouble going forward if they continue in this direction. The media is sorely in need of honest self appraisals. Reliable Sources did that covering TV, radio, print and the Internet. Now there aren’t any programs that are dedicated to that mission. It’s a sad state of affairs, and one that Stelter himself noted in his goodbye tweet…
“I loved anchoring @ReliableSources. It was a rare privilege to lead a weekly show focused on the press at a time when it has never been more consequential.”
I loved anchoring @ReliableSources. It was a rare privilege to lead a weekly show focused on the press at a time when it has never been more consequential. And here's the thing…
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) August 18, 2022
UPDATE: Predictably, Trump has weighed in with his customary childish BS, saying that “Brian Stelter of Fake News CNN got fired because he lied, and lied, and lied – ABOUT ME. May he REST IN PEACE!” Of course, Stelter was NOT fired, he quit. And Trump can’t cite a single alleged lie. And Stelter, as noted above, is far from dead. Can’t the same about Trump.
I’m gonna speculate this was not why the show was canceled. pic.twitter.com/pcz9g8Azhy
— Ron Filipkowski ?? (@RonFilipkowski) August 19, 2022
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