Brian Stelter OUT at CNN as new boss Chris Licht cleans house
Woke media ‘hall monitor’ Brian Stelter is shown the door at CNN as ratings plummet to HALF its Fox News rival, averaging just 787,000: Anchor says show has been a ‘rare privilege’
- Brian Stelter’s Sunday media show has been cancelled by CNN’s new boss Chris Licht, with the last episode airing this weekend
- The show, Reliable Sources, has aired on CNN since 1992 and features panelists discussing media coverage of news, and the media industry itself
- Stelter, who has hosted for nine years, said he was grateful for the show and his team’s examination of ‘the media, truth and the stories that shape our world’
- It comes just days after CNN’s legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin announced that he would not be returning after his vacation
CNN has cancelled Brian Stelter’s Sunday media show after new boss Chris Licht vowed to clean up the network and move away from opinion broadcasting.
Stelter, the chief media correspondent and host of Reliable Sources for the last nine years, is the second casualty of the network after Licht took over earlier this year.
Jeffrey Toobin, CNN’s legal analyst, announced last week that he would not be returning to the network after his vacation.
Some were speculating online that other anchors could be next, with Don Lemon, a lightning rod for the right, being mentioned.
Licht is known to want to move away from the heavily-partisan broadcasting that Lemon specializes in.
Stelter confirmed in a statement to NPR that he would be stepping down from the show, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in March
He said he was grateful for the show and for his team’s examination of ‘the media, truth and the stories that shape our world.’
Stelter added: ‘It was a rare privilege to lead a weekly show focused on the press at a time when it has never been more consequential.’
It comes off the back of a ratings nosedive, with it plunging to less than half of its rival on Fox News and averaging just 787,000 this year.
Stelter was the chief media correspondent for CNN and host of the CNN program Reliable Sources for nine years
Stelter, pictured, has become the second casualty of new CNN boss Chris Licht after failing to report the ‘open secret’ affair between Licht’s predecessor, Jeff Zucker, and staffer Allison Gollust
Stelter confirmed the news in a statement, before joking on Twitter that he had chosen a ‘bad day’ to not charge his phone
He added that he would say more on the final episode of the show on Sunday.
Licht is currently working to revive the scandal-hit network after several high profile incidents, and informed Stelter of the news on Wednesday.
Stelter was reportedly summoned to Licht’s office on Wednesday, and left looking ‘ashen’.
He ‘refused to talk about the conversation’, according to Puck News.
In a statement on Twitter, he said: ‘I picked a bad day to violate the ABC rule — Always Be Charging. I took the kiddos out sightseeing in midtown Manhattan and my phone’s at 2%.’
CNN confirmed in a statement to DailyMail.com that Stelter’s last show will be on Sunday.
‘As a result, Brian Stelter will leave the company. We appreciate his contributions and wish him well as he embarks on new endeavors,’ a spokesperson said.
Stelter’s colleague Oliver Darcy, who writes the media newsletter with him, praised the 36-year-old.
‘End of an era. It has been a hell of a ride working with @BrianStelter and the @ReliableSources team over the last five years.
‘Brian has been a first-class colleague, mentor, and friend. I cannot wait to see what he does next.’
The show has struggled, however, in its ratings war with Fox News.
Fox’s rival show, MediaBuzz, has averaged 1.5 million viewers this year, while Reliable Sources had 787,000.
Reliable Sources is having its lowest-rated year since 2015 and has lost 26 percent of its total audience versus last year.
It has shed 34 percent among the 25-54 age range, and 31 percent in the 18-49 demographic.
CNN’s new boss Chris Licht is currently working to revive the scandal-hit network, with Stelter being the second to get the chop after Jeffrey Toobin – who said he resigned, but is thought to have been forced out
Jeffrey Toobin returned to the air in June 2021 after an eight-month suspension, but announced last week that he would not be returning after his vacation
The news of Stelter’s departure was greeted with glee by his critics, and some of his rivals.
Fox News provocateur Greg Gutfeld tweeted: ‘Yo @BrianStelter – my show is hiring.’
Critics were calling for Stelter to be sacked earlier this year after he failed to report the ‘open secret’ affair between former top boss Jeff Zucker and staffer Allison Gollust.
Zucker stepped down as CNN president in February for failing to disclose his relationship with Gollust, when he was being interviewed as part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo.
He and Gollust claim the romance started during COVID, but media sources tell DailyMail.com it long predates the pandemic and was an open-secret in the CNN offices.
A cable news veteran, who wishes not to be named, spoke of the close relationship between Stelter and Zucker.
‘Brian Stelter should be calling his agent to start looking for another job,’ they said.
‘He’s been Jeff Zucker’s water boy for years and no one believes he didn’t know about all of this.’
Gollust and Zucker lived in the same apartment building with their respective families, worked together at NBC and then CNN for more than 20 years, and had what some called an ‘uncomfortably cozy’ rapport.
Jeff Zucker and Allison Gollust at the Billy Joel concert at Madison Square Garden on November 5, 2021 with Don Lemon (right) and Fareed Zakaria (bottom left). Zucker stepped down as president of CNN as a result of their romance and the fact he lied about it while being quizzed for the investigation into Chris Cuomo
They are both now divorced, and one source told DailyMail.com that their splits were due in part to their relationship.
The analyst was infamously caught masturbating on a Zoom call with colleagues at the New Yorker magazine, only to be invited back by CNN’s disgraced ex-boss Jeff Zucker
Toobin was famously fired in November 2020 by The New Yorker, after 27 years, when he was caught on camera masturbating during a Zoom conversation with colleagues.
He claimed he didn’t realize his webcam was still on when he began masturbating.
CNN suspended him for eight months before welcoming him back – to the anger of many at the network.
His return to CNN a year ago, in June 2021, was accompanied by a fawning interview in which he issued to a groveling apology to his colleagues for his ‘deeply moronic’ behavior and said he was ‘incredibly grateful’ for being allowed back on air.
Toobin appeared on shows across the network, and on Friday he said he would miss his CNN colleagues.
Chief media correspondent and Reliable Sources Host is being seen as the second casualty of the network after Licht took over in early 2022. Stelter (left) is seen quizzing Zucker (right)
Zucker with his ex-wife Caryn in 2011 (left) and Gollust with her ex-husband Billy (right) in 2008. The pair have known each other and worked together for 20 years, starting at ABC, and media sources say their affair was an ‘open secret’
During his first appearance back on air, Toobin apologized to his wife Amy McIntosh and his three children
Toobin said that he had decided to leave, but some within the company saw it as part of a wider move by Licht to clean up the network after scandals involving Chris Cuomo and Zucker.
A source told DailyMail.com: ‘Chris Licht is really focused on CNN turning a corner. He actually listens to what people want and isn’t driven by ego.
‘He’s moving CNN back to the center, he abolished the ridiculous breaking news cut ins and graphics that drove everyone crazy and he knows that no one will shed a tear re Toobin’s departure, especially the women of CNN.’
Cuomo saw his show Cuomo Prime Time cancelled in late November after the anchor was suspended and then fired for helping his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, while he was accused of sexual harassment.
Chris is still fighting for $18million – the remainder of his contract – but Zucker refused to pay out, citing the conflict of interest between Chris’s relationship with his brother and his on-air reporting for CNN.
According to Politico’s sources, Cuomo’s team said it was hypocritical for Zucker to fire Chris for a conflict of interest when he has one of his own in his relationship with Gollust.
Since November, CNN has been trialing several potential replacements for the 9pm show – among them Jim Acosta, Laura Coates, Michael Smerconish and Sara Sidner.
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