NEW YORK – CNN has canceled its weekly “Reliable Sources” show on the media after three decades on the air, and said Thursday that its host, Brian Stelter, is leaving the network.
The show will have its last broadcast this Sunday.
“Reliable Sources,” and its host, appear to be the first prominent casualties in CNN's effort to become less confrontational politically, a priority of Chris Licht, who became the network's chairman and CEO in the spring, and his boss, David Zaslav, head of the Warner Bros. Discovery parent company.
Stelter has written a book, “Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth" and been critical of Fox News, making him a frequent target of CNN's conservative critics.
Licht has made it known internally that he's not interested in conflict between CNN and Fox News on the network. The CNN “New Day” anchor Brianna Keilar had also attracted attention for detailed critical pieces on Fox, but they have stopped since Licht took over.
CNN has seen its reputation tumble dramatically among Republican and conservative viewers, some of it because of former President Donald Trump's relentless attacks, but also because of pointed political viewpoints expressed by its personalities. New management has been seeking to turn down the temperature.
Stelter came to CNN from The New York Times, where he was a media writer.
“He departs CNN as an impeccable broadcaster,” said Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content development at CNN. “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 said that he was grateful for his nine years at CNN, proud of the show and thankful to its viewers.
“It was a rare privilege to lead a weekly show focused on the press at a time when it has never been more consequential,” he said. “I'll have more to say on Sunday.”
“Reliable Sources” has been a part of CNN's Sunday schedule since 1993. Bernard Kalb was its initial host, and Howard Kurtz had a 15-year run before Stelter took over in 2013. Kurtz now hosts the “Media Buzz” show on Fox News.
There was a quick release of glee among some of Stelter's critics online. The conservative Daily Wire site tweeted a picture of a roomful of empty chairs, captioning it, “Brian Stelter's fans gathering to watch his last episode.”
“Good riddance, Stelter,” tweeted radio and Fox News host Mark Levin. “You and your ilk have done grave damage to a free press.”
Dan Froomkin, a liberal media critic and head of the Press Watch website, tweeted that it was a terrible move by CNN.
Stelter “was the symbol of a media establishment willing to question itself,” Froomkin said. “He was a flawed but essential voice in the national media. His firing is a win for all the wrong people.”
The “Reliable Sources” newsletter, a daily compendium of the media's big stories, will continue and will be led by CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy.