CNN’s Brian Stelter — the cable network’s chief media correspondent — ran some P.R. for his company at the end of his “Reliable Sources” show Sunday, defending it from critics who say CNN is “lacking journalism” and deals in “opinions all the time.”
Stelter’s verdict? “They’re not watching CNN,” he told his viewers.
What’s been happening at CNN?
Indeed, it’s been one thing after another for CNN of late.
In December, CNN fired its infamously left-wing anchor Chris Cuomo after an investigation showed how deeply involved he was in attempting to protect his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, from scandals. Also that month, a CNN producer was charged with allegedly luring and grooming underage girls for sexual assaults.
In January, folks brutally mocked CNN after it announced the creation of a news team “dedicated to covering misinformation” — and also after Stelter interviewed eighth-graders who were learning about detecting “misinformation.”
And soon Stelter got distressed because he admitted that podcaster Joe Rogan is “trusted by people” who don’t trust “major newsrooms like CNN.” For his part, Rogan eviscerated CNN and said “people know they’re full of s**t … they disseminate propaganda.”
Then came last week’s shocking resignation of CNN boss Jeff Zucker following revelations about his relationship with Allison Gollust, his second in command at the network.
But on Sunday, Stelter soldiered on and shot back at CNN’s critics after telling his viewers he was “gonna go a little bit rogue” during his show-capping monologue.
What did he say?
“Jeff Zucker’s departure was shocking to the staff of CNN. But CNN was not built by just one man, not by only Ted Turner, and it was not led only by Jeff Zucker. CNN is so much bigger than any single individual,” Stelter said. “It is about teams and teams of people, thousands of individuals who make up CNN.”
His voice then took on a dramatic tone: “This place is not perfect. It will never be perfect. We will always have flaws, we will always screw up, we will always have to run corrections, we will always have to keep working to make it better and better and better every single day. That is the goal. But the people who say we’re lacking journalism, that we’ve become an all-talk channel, that we’ve run off, and we’re all opinions all the time, that Jeff Zucker led us astray, those people aren’t watching CNN. They’re not watching CNN. They’re watching complaints about CNN on other channels that don’t know what they’re talking about. That’s the truth.”
Then after declaring that on the day Zucker resigned “more than 135 reporters” aired pieces for CNN, and that the cable network published “more than 215 stories,” Stelter boasted that it was a “hell of a lot of news” and “hell of a lot of journalism.”
“Do some of the anchors say provocative things? Yes,” he admitted. “Do some of those clips get played over and over again on other channels and mislead people about what CNN actually is? Yes.”
“We lost our leader this week, but we’re not going anywhere,” Stelter promised his listeners, according to Fox News.
How did folks react?
You might say Stelter’s monologue provided commenters with a target-rich environment. Here’s a small sampling from Twitter:
- “They’ve been so slanted for so long they don’t know what objective reporting is,” one commenter said.
- “I watch CNN, less than I did prior to 2016, but a lot more than I watch Fox,” another commenter wrote. “CNN has injected politics into EVERYTHING … it’s not about news anymore, it’s about pushing biased narratives & opinions that turn out to be wrong — a lot.”
- “If you have to tell your audience that you actually do journalism, the argument, your credibility, and your ratings are lost,” another commenter said.
- And then this classic retort: “Brian, if you rant during your show, which no one is watching, does anyone hear you?”