Brian Stelter Out at CNN, ‘Reliable Sources’ Canceled

Stelter’s exit comes less than four months after Chris Licht took over as head of CNN

Brian Stelter
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Brian Stelter is out as CNN’s chief media correspondent and host of “Reliable Sources,” which will be canceled upon his departure — an expected move, given an expressed desire by the network’s new leadership to move away from opinion-based news programming.

Stelter’s exit comes less than four months after Chris Licht took over as head of CNN, following reports that the CEO was not a fan of Stelter’s opinionated on-camera style. Licht informed Stelter of the decision on Wednesday, and this Sunday will be the final episode of “Reliable Sources.”

In addition to Stelter, the entire staff of “Reliable Sources” has also been laid off. Despite the show’s cancellation, the Reliable Sources newsletter will remain, led by CNN’s senior media reporter Oliver Darcy.

“I’m grateful for my nine years with CNN, proud of what we accomplished on ‘Reliable Sources’ and so thankful for the viewers who tuned in every week for our examination of the media, truth and the stories that shape our world,” Stelter said in a statement obtained by TheWrap. “It was a rare privilege to lead a weekly show focused on the press at a time when it has never been more consequential. I’ll have more to say on Sunday.”

In a statement of her own, CNN’s chief of talent and content development Amy Entelis said Stelter “departs CNN an impeccable broadcaster. 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.” 

A network spokesperson added: “We appreciate his contributions to the network and wish him well as he embarks on new endeavors.”

The news comes one week after CNN parted ways with longtime legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and reflects a new direction for the network under its new leadership. After being tapped by Warner Bros. Discovery chief David Zaslav to take over CNN, Licht sought to make CNN more straight-news reporting and dial down its opinion anchors. Stelter is a strong example of opinion-led journalism and was a leading voice on the network criticizing the misinformation of the Trump administration and how that was impacting news culture and democracy.

“Reliable Sources,” which was CNN’s longest-running show after debuting 30 years ago, has struggled with ratings in recent months. In June, it posted its lowest ratings since 2001, only securing an average of about 585,000 total viewers. A meager 79,000 of those eyeballs came from the key 25-54 cable news demographic.

Stelter began his career blogging about cable news as a student. He went on to become a media reporter for the New York Times before joining CNN as host of “Reliable Sources” nine years ago.

The show was launched in 1992, with Bernard Kalb as host, to scrutinize the media’s coverage of the first Gulf War. Howard Kurtz hosted the show for 15 of its 30 years before jumping to rival Fox News in 2013. The show was briefly made a segment on John King’s “State of the Union” show from 2009 to 2010, but returned to a full, one-hour standalone show in 2010.