Brian Stelter will depart CNN, multiple sources confirmed to The Daily Beast, as the network has canceled his Sunday media show Reliable Sources.
CNN CEO Chris Licht informed Stelter of the decision on Wednesday, according to NPR, and his last show will be Sunday. A CNN spokesperson confirmed the news on Thursday afternoon: “CNN will end its Reliable Sources program on Sunday, August 21st. As a result Brian Stelter will leave the company. We appreciate his contributions to the network and wish him well as he embarks on new endeavors.”
“Stelter came to CNN from the New York Times as the nation’s top media reporter. He departs CNN an impeccable broadcaster,” Amy Entilis, CNN’s head of talent wrote in the network’s statement. “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 in a statement: “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. 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.”
The Reliable Sources host had been with the network since 2013, when he took over hosting duties of the media-focused weekly talk show. He became a fixture on the network’s political news coverage and often took aim at conservative media, most especially Fox News, about which he wrote a book, titled Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth, released in 2020.
Multiple sources told The Daily Beast that Stelter had recently signed a multi-year contract.
Insider’s media reporter Claire Atkinson reported that Reliable Source’s production staff also will be laid off. A CNN staffer told The Daily Beast that Stelter’s exit was “not surprising,” but that Licht suggested last week in a CNN town hall that there would be no more layoffs.
Oliver Darcy, the network’s other key media reporter and co-author of the Reliable Sources newsletter, confirmed he is staying at CNN. “Brian has been a first-class colleague, mentor, and friend. I cannot wait to see what he does next,” he wrote on Twitter. “I'm looking forward to continuing to cover the media and hold powerful people and institutions accountable. It’s important work and I’m grateful to do it at CNN.”
As a close ally and friend to former CNN boss Jeff Zucker, who dramatically exited the network last year, Stelter has occasionally appeared to be at odds with the new era of CNN.
“Everything about this rollout points to [Discovery board member] John Malone and [Discovery CEO] David Zaslav,” a source familiar with the situation told The Daily Beast. “Chris Licht did not want to do this.”
In February, Stelter called out Malone, the billionaire mogul who told CNBC last year that after Discovery’s merger with WarnerMedia, he’d “like to see CNN evolve back to the kind of journalism that it started with, and actually have journalists, which would be unique and refreshing.”
“The people who say the Zucker-era CNN was lacking in real journalism clearly were not watching CNN directly,” Stelter wrote in the Reliable Sources newsletter. “My best guess is that they were watching talking heads and reading columnists complain about CNN. And yes, I’m including John Malone in this.”
Meanwhile, It didn’t take long for Stelter’s loudest conservative critics to spike the football over his exit and gloat over the end of Reliable Sources.
“Yo @brianstelter - my show is hiring,” tweeted Fox News host Greg Gutfeld, who has made Stelter a frequent target on his late-night “comedy” show. “Later, tater,” MAGA podcaster Charlie Kirk added, echoing right-wing media’s favorite insult for the media host. “Brian Stelter had his show cancelled on CNN,” far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert tweeted. “What are the odds Loser Liz [Cheney] takes his place?”
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