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Brian Stelter to depart CNN as it cancels 'Reliable Sources' media show

CNN host Brian Stelter, shown in this photograph from 2018, tells NPR he is departing the network after it canceled his media analysis show "Reliable Sources." He had hosted the show for nine years.
Matt Winkelmeyer
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CNN host Brian Stelter, shown in this photograph from 2018, tells NPR he is departing the network after it canceled his media analysis show "Reliable Sources." He had hosted the show for nine years.

Updated August 18, 2022 at 3:22 PM ET

CNN is canceling its Sunday media affairs show Reliable Sources, and host Brian Stelter is departing the network, Stelter tells NPR.

In a statement to NPR, Stelter says he's grateful for the show and his team's examination of "the media, truth and the stories that shape our world."

"It was a rare privilege to lead a weekly show focused on the press at a time when it has never been more consequential," Stelter said, promising to say more on Sunday's show — its final episode.

Stelter got his start blogging about cable news as a student and went on to become a media reporter for The New York Times. Reliable Sources is the longest-running show on CNN; Stelter has hosted it for the past nine years and celebrated the show's 30th anniversary in March.

CNN chief Chris Licht informed Stelter of the decision yesterday. Licht has been making cuts throughout the network since taking the helm as part of Warner Bros. Discovery's takeover of the old Time Warner company.

The network pulled the plug on its standalone digital platform, CNN+, for which it had hired former NPR host Audie Cornish and former Fox News host Chris Wallace, before it had been launched. (Both stars have stayed on at CNN.)

Stelter, who often touted the show's ratings on Twitter, was among those CNN hosts targeted for frequent criticism from conservatives for his coverage of the media during the Trump years.

Among those publicly joining in on the broader criticism of CNN as having become politicized was the investor John Malone, a major financial stakeholder of the new WarnerDiscovery conglomerate. During an episode in February, Stelter cited Malone more than a dozen times in coverage of the Discovery deal for CNN and its sister properties, expressing some concern about the investor's influence.

"Stelter came to CNN from The New York Times as the nation's top media reporter. He departs CNN an impeccable broadcaster," said Amy Entelis, CNN's executive vice president for talent and content development. "We are proud of what Brian and his team accomplished over the years, and we're confident their impact and influence will long outlive the show."

Stelter often chronicled the rhetorical wars over politics, its reporting and even facts, ramping up the intensity of his periodic commentaries during former President Donald Trump's tenure. It earned him recurring criticism from pro-Trump figures and taunting from Fox stars Greg Gutfeld and Tucker Carlson.

Stelter also covered CNN's shortcomings but was seen as a loyal team player under former CNN chief Jeff Zucker. As Stelter later conceded, he was slow to recognize the depth of the ethical problems posed by former CNN star Chris Cuomo in advising his brother, then governor of New York, on how to handle accusations of sexual harassment.

A corporate spokesperson confirmed the show's demise and said the network wished Stelter well in his future endeavors. The show began under veteran Washington correspondent Bernard Kalb and continued under the longtime media reporter Howard Kurtz. Kurtz now hosts a show with a similar format on Fox News called MediaBuzz, which will become, at least for now, the only major national television show analyzing the news business and journalism. In his time at Fox, Kurtz has rarely held his own network to account.

CNN says it will continue the popular Reliable Sources newsletter.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Folkenflik was described by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, once gave him a "laurel" for reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.
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