Topic: Media Research Center
The Media Research Center has hated CNN's Brian Stelter for year for daring to criticize right-wing media in general and Fox News in particular, and it has not-so-quietly begged for CNN to fire him for those offenses. A February post by Kyle Drennen hyped a an anonymously sourced Fox News report calling for Stelter's firing over "not exposing CNN president Jeff Zucker’s romantic relationship with another high-ranking colleague." On June 7 -- a day after he whined that Stelter was telling Fox News what to cover (as if the MRC doesn't repeatedly tell the non-right-wing media what to cover?) Tim Graham hyped a report that CNN's new owners and bosses were planning to fire Stelter "if he can’t adopt CNN’s new tone of being more straight-ahead news and less partisan trash talk" (a complaint we don't recall Graham ever making about Fox News).
So when CNN did, in fact, fire Stelter and cancel his show "Reliable Sources," it was like Christmas at the MRC, except with more giddy gloating. Curtis Houck rejoiced in an Aug. 18 post:
CNN’s chief media correspondent and liberal media janitor Brian Stelter — perhaps one of the most polarizing liberal journalists of all-time —is being pushed out of the network and his show Reliable Sources being cancelled following a final episode this coming Sunday.
Stelter confirmed the news Thursday to NPR media reporter and fellow lefty David Folkenflik, saying he was proud of his work that showcased “the media, truth and the stories that shape our world.”
According to Folkenflik, the decision to move on from Stelter came down late Wednesday from new CNN boss Chris Licht, who’s promised to make changes to the network (see here, here, here, and here) following years of sagging ratings and exponential levels of partisanship under former puppetmaster Jeff Zucker.
Yes, Houck is still using the anti-Semitic "puppetmaster" slur against the Jewish Zucker., with bonus points for the hateful "media janitor" smear of Stelter. And, yes, the right-wing media bubble would find a critic of said bubble to be "polarizing."
Graham quickly pounded out an Aug. 19 column taking some of his last shots, rehashing old complaints about CNN's promotion of Michael Avenatti (as if the MRC and Fox News didn't promote its own off-the-rails lawyer in L. Lin Wood) and didn't call out hyperbole on CNN -- then played whataboutism to avoid having to express offense to hyperbole on Fox News:
On June 27, 2021, after watching a pile of Sean Hannity shows, he disparaged Hannity for uncorking a montage of words like "socialist, stalker, weak, failure, shameless, psychotic, indoctrination, hell holes." But in the same segment, Stelter used "authoritarian, poisonous, abusive, propaganda, Big Lie, filth." He proclaimed Hannity wasn’t offering “opnion,” he was offering “poison.” Did Stelter ever reflect on his own harsh verbiage?
CNN launched a ridiculous “Facts First” advertising campaign as it veered ever more heavily into opinion. But Stelter underlined the arrogance: “We’re not anti-Trump. We’re pro-truth.” When Kellyanne Conway referred to his side of the aisle, Stelter acted offended: “I’m not on a side of the aisle.”
CNN has a long way to go to get out of its “side of the aisle.”
Graham has never demanded the same from Fox News, which delegitimizes his attacks on Stelter.
Geoffrey Dickens followed with a roundup post purporting to detail "Stelter's ludicrousness," further alleging that Stelter "ineptly attempted to play the role of objective media critic" and "exposed his leftist bias in his copious criticisms of Republicans and news outlets (like Fox News) that refused to carry water for Presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden." Dickens didn't complain about right-wqing media critics who issued copious criticisms of outlets that refused to carry water for Donald Trump -- perhaps because carrying water for Trump was (and remains) the MRC's main mission.
After Stelter's final show on Aug. 21, Kevin Tober served up a predictably malicious and hateful review:
We won’t have Brian Stelter to kick around anymore because Sunday’s Reliable Sources on CNN is officially no more. This last episode of Reliable Sources did have plenty of cringeworthy moments and leftist chest pounding over the media’s failure to go after “anti-democratic” Republicans enough.
Stelter sent shockwaves throughout the nation with the horrifying admission that his show is “a part of journalism school curriculum” and that “teachers use segments from this show all the time in classrooms, in lessons, guiding and teaching the next generation.”
Unless teachers use Stelter’s show as an example of what not to do as a journalist, the journalism profession is in more trouble than originally thought.
Perhaps proving why the show was canceled in the first place, Stelter brought on disgraced Watergate-era journalist Carl Bernstein who wailed that the media needs to cover how “the pendulum [is] swinging against democracy all over the world.”
If there was any doubt that Stelter believes his show is more important than it is, he showed it in his closing remarks where he claimed “I believe America needs CNN to be strong. I believe the free world needs CNN to be strong. And it will continue to be. Because all of us are going to help make that happen. The free world needs a reliable source.”
Apparently, CNN doesn’t think the free world needs a reliable source because they canceled his show. Or perhaps CNN knows there was nothing reliable about Stelter’s “ Reliable Sources.”
Goodbye Stelter! You won’t be missed.
Tober followed up with another post hyping attacks on Stelter from Fox News' Howard Kurtz:
The news of CNN canceling Brian Stelter’s Reliable Sources wasn’t just relegated to chatter on CNN, towards the end of the only other national media analysis show MediaBuzz on the Fox News Channel, host Howard Kurtz had his own thoughts to share. What many people may not remember is Kurtz hosted CNN’s Reliable Sourcesbefore Stelter took the reins and ruined the show’s reputation. So it’s fitting that he spoke out about the show’s inevitable demise.
Kurtz started by informing viewers why he’s kept quiet about CNN’s Reliable Sources since coming to Fox: “When I came to Fox nine years ago to launch MediaBuzz, I made it a personal policy not to talk about the rival show on CNN. Well, that program has now been canceled.”
Quick not to look like he’s gloating, Kurtz quickly followed up by noting “TV is a tough business. Ratings bounce around, talents get let go, including hard working staffers, so I'm not going to get personal, not going to knock anybody, just wish them well.”[...]
Kurtz ended by gloating that his show is the last media analysis show standing: “We've shown there's a loyal audience that grades fairness over partisanship. So now there's only one media analysis program on national television, and you're watching it.”
Well deserved! Congratulations to Howard Kurtz and the entire Fox News team! This shows viewers want serious media analysis and criticism, not someone who will defend the media and apologize for them even if they’re wrong.
Tober isn't going to complain about the right-wing, pro-Fox News bias of Kurtz and his show -- perhaps because that bias is one the MRC heartily approves.
Desperate to attack anyone who would dare to say nice things about Stelter, Clay Waters devoted an Aug. 31 post to complaining that a writer at Slate lamented Stelter's firing:
After CNN’s new ownership cancelled its media news show Reliable Sources and fired its host, the reliably liberal Brian Stelter, Slate magazine’s Justin Peters came to Stelter’s defense, while bashing his many conservative critics as “bad-faith” actors, in “A Reliable Source of Concern -- Why Brian Stelter’s axing is a very bad omen for CNN.”
New CNN chief Chris Licht is moving away from liberal opinion toward a more balanced news product, which spelled doom for Stelter, who took over Reliable Sources in 2013 but came into his fiery own when Donald Trump entered presidential politics, giving him a villain to focus on along with Fox News.
Meanwhile, Stelter made no efforts to hold his own network accountable, skipping former chief executive Jeff Zucker’s personal and professional controversies, but remaining fixated on Fox -- as is Peters himself, judging by his oeuvre.
Waters didn't explain why Stelter's "conservative critics" -- you know, like him -- are not bad-faith actors.