Brian Stelter leaves CNN as a “reliable source” and is canceled

“Reliable Sources” was the longest-running show in CNN history. It was launched in 1992.

Brian Stelter has been a fixture at CNN for nine years, and now that tenure has come to an end. The media reporter confirmed on his Twitter feed that his show “Reliable Sources,” the last of its kind on cable news, is ending, and with it his own departure from the network.

Puck’s Dylan Byers, himself a former media reporter alongside Stelter at CNN, reports that Stelter was called into the office of new CNN boss Chris Licht on Wednesday, “who looked ashen”. The final episode of Reliable Sources airs this Sunday, August 21st.

Reliable Sources is the longest-running show in CNN history. It debuted in 1992, hosted by Bernard Kalb, and was then managed by Howard Kurtz for 15 years, until he left in 2013 to start a similar show on FoxNews called “Media Buzz.” The CNN show was unique in the television landscape: an hour-long weekly program that analyzed not the “what” of news, but the “how” of news – how journalists report and frame stories, and how those framings affect our understanding of the facts be able. It routinely challenged FoxNews and other right-wing media outlets to present facts that fit preordained narratives, with Stelter himself becoming the bogeyman of the right.

Consider the now-defunct role of “public editor” at The New York Times. That was Reliable Sources, and the show often even held CNN accountable itself: Stelter used it as a platform to ask tough questions about Jeff Zucker’s departure and Chris Cuomo and the conflicts of interest that led to his departure from the network. The former is all the more remarkable given that Stelter is believed to have been a favorite of sugar.

Stelter’s newsletter became ubiquitous in media circles and was widely considered an essential temperature check for the health of the industry. It continued its perceptive analysis of the Warner Bros. Discovery merger and its transformative impact on CNN, which came less than 30 days after the new regime of WBD CEO David Zaslav and newly installed CNN boss Chris Licht launched the streaming CNN+ service is canned.

A Towson University graduate, Stelter has become one of the most prominent media reporters of the last 15 years. While still in college, he launched his own media-related website, TVNewser, which he sold to MediaBistro after landing a job as a media reporter at the New York Times straight out of school. Fans of the Times documentary Page One will well remember his presence in the documentary as he is clearly portrayed as a next-gen David Carr.

Joining CNN at the age of 28 as a “Reliable Sources” host, he also appeared all over the network, covering media and entertainment stories on demand, sometimes at outrageous times of the day: his on-air presence for the late-night Reporting on David Bowie’s death in January 2016 demonstrated his breadth and ability to present complicated news reports quickly and competently. CNN has since beefed up its on-air entertainment coverage with the hiring of Chloe Melas, but Stelter could reliably be called upon to comment on virtually anything on the air at any time. His demeanor for CNN was more substance than style, but he was a clearly well-crafted TV presence with skills that would kill most journalists who popped up on the digital side like him.

Nothing is known about Stelter’s next plans.

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Lindsay Lowe

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