The contrast couldn’t be more different. Earlier this week CTV news anchor Lisa LaFlamme fired and forced to announce it in a personal tweet– and Sunday, the axing of the CNN news show Reliable Sources, and its host Brian Stelter. In the latter case Stelter got to host his final show and to talk about it throughout the broadcast.
Reliable Sources had been on the air for 30 years. It started out as a one hour special in which the news coverage during the Gulf War was subjected to an examination. The show then moved into a weekly critical review of the news media in general and the way it covered stories. It was hosted by Howard Kurtz until 2013 and until this week with Brian Stelter.
The bulk of the final show was a discussion of the state of media generally with guests like Carl Bernstein and other panelists. Stelter ended the show with a generally upbeat monologue in which he thanked former CNN President Jeff Zucker for allowing him to host the show and even thanking the current management who fired him, for allowing him a final show. He said he will remain a fan of CNN despite what has happened.
This writer thought the show went off the rails a bit during the Trump era when it appeared Zucker wanted to out-Fox Fox. The show spent a lot of its time critiquing right-wing news sources, The tone became a bit too alarmist for a program that is supposed to be turning a dispassionate critical eye on the media. It’s not that the tendency for news consumers to follow a version of news that accords with their worldview isn’t alarming—it is. But the situation isn’t helped when a centrist news organization decides to follow suit with a shift to the left. Somewhere in the TV news firmament, somebody has got to be the adult in the room.
The cancellation of Reliable Sources is part of a round of changes made since Zucker was fired in February following the revelation of an improper relationship with an underling. The new boss, Chris Licht is trying to pull news coverage back to the centre. He fired evening anchor Chris Cuomo for essentially marching in the parade he was covering by giving public relations advice to his brother, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, who was embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal. Among other things, that ended the cringeworthy handoff Cuomo would do each night with Don Lemon whose show followed Cuomo’s. Licht has let it be known he wants more news and less opinion in the news lineup.
The cancellation of Reliable Sources leaves only one cable news show devoted to critiquing the media—Media Buzz on Fox News, which like Reliable Sources runs at 11 AM on Sundays. A look at a transcript of a July 31st edition, showed a surprisingly balanced discussion of the possibility of Donald Trump announcing a possible run for president in 2024.