Brian Stelter signs ‘reliable sources’ as CNN remains in limbo

“The free world needs a trusted source” were some of CNN host Brian Stelter’s last words on his final Sunday show – three days after CNN decided it wasn’t. the case, canceling his show in the most dramatic shift in his quest to move to the center. .

The last episode of the network of reliable sources, its longest-running program, devoted each block to the importance of a free press in a battered democracy and featured segments with journalists Carl Bernstein, Brian Karem and a panel of media reporters. Stelter said he wanted the episode to return to the show’s historic mission to examine the press, noting its impact on journalism lessons.

“The problem with television is that it is fleeting,” Stelter said in his opening monologue. “A lot of things are not meant to be memorized. but this program transcended that…Founding hosts Bernard Kyle and Rick Davis said this program was meant to be a critical lens on the media – such a special thing, a critical lens on the media.

This critical goal, however, didn’t seem to match the new CNN being built by CEO Chris Licht and his corporate supervisors David Zaslav and John Malone. Stelter’s show was canceled on Thursday, a shock decision that raised concerns about CNN’s editorial management under the new Warner Bros. banner. Discovery. The Daily Beast previously reported that Licht didn’t want to make the decision.

Those concerns were reflected on Stelter’s show, which he’s hosted since 2013 and has built a brand around a nightly newsletter and podcast. Initiated Media reporter Claire Atkinson questioned on Sunday whether Malone was responsible for her firing.

“He is a businessman. He looks at where the money and the audience are,” Atkinson said. “The audience on the left is split between CNN and MSNBC, and the audience on the right is all at Fox News. They have a bigger audience, a lot of money, and maybe he’s saying, ‘If we change kinda that way, maybe we’ll get it too.

Malone denied any involvement in the dismissal of Stelter to The New York Times immediately after Thursday, claiming he has little to do with the network even though he admitted he wanted CNN to adopt a more “centrist” tone.

He developed these reflections in a Time interview published on Sunday, admitting that a less partisan tone would help attract more advertisers (and, therefore, money) and boost ratings in the long run. CNN’s profits fell below $1 billion this month, according to the Time, for the first time since 2016, and it has already seen the departure of top legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

“I’m an American,” Malone told the newspaper. “I believe that these organizations have a duty to try to bring the country together a bit, instead of trying to exploit the differences ad infinitum.”

Stelter declined to speculate on Malone’s involvement in his show’s cancellation or CNN’s future direction on the final episode, though he did make sure to thank those involved in his show’s production, including former network CEO Jeff Zucker, as well as Licht, who hit the finale. blow.

Stelter claimed media coverage would continue under senior reporter Oliver Darcy, including his influential nightly newscast. What that will look like, however, remains unclear, as The Daily Beast previously reported on Licht’s plans to introduce more potentially unpopular changes.

“It’s a time of change, and I know it’s troubling,” Licht told staffers during a meeting on Friday. “There will be more changes and you may not understand it or like it all.”

Stelter made sure to acknowledge Malone’s points on partisanship, albeit indirectly, in his final send-off.

“He is not in favor of defending decency, democracy and dialogue. He is not in favor of standing up to demagogues. It’s mandatory, it’s patriotic,” Stelter said. “We have to make sure that we don’t give platforms to those who lie to our face. But we also have to make sure that we represent the full range of debates and that we represent what is happening in the country and in the world. That’s why CNN needs to be strong. That’s why I think CNN will always be strong.

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