Slate Shelters CNN's Fox-Trump Loathing Stelter: 'Axing Is a Very Bad Omen for CNN'

August 31st, 2022 11:06 AM

After CNN’s new ownership cancelled its media news show Reliable Sources and fired its host, the reliably liberal Brian Stelter, Slate magazine’s Justin Peters came to Stelter’s defense, while bashing his many conservative critics as “bad-faith” actors, in “A Reliable Source of Concern -- Why Brian Stelter’s axing is a very bad omen for CNN.”

New CNN chief Chris Licht is moving away from liberal opinion toward a more balanced news product, which spelled doom for Stelter, who took over Reliable Sources in 2013 but came into his fiery own when Donald Trump entered presidential politics, giving him a villain to focus on along with Fox News.

Meanwhile, Stelter made no efforts to hold his own network accountable, skipping former chief executive Jeff Zucker’s personal and professional controversies, but remaining fixated on Fox -- as is Peters himself, judging by his oeuvre.

Peters praised CNN (“For decades, CNN stood for objective, down-the-middle news reporting in the mind of the American media consumer…”) while lamenting no one trusted the network anymore, blaming “the continuous attacks” from “Trump and his allies,” as if was Trump’s fault that CNN covered politics like it was a subsidiary of the Democratic Party.

Peters did note CNN had swung too far toward “the resistance,” but made excuses.

….CNN spent Trump’s presidency in full rebuttal mode, and at times the network felt even more addled by Resistance Brain than its competitor MSNBC did. But if it seemed like some of CNN’s marquee news anchors were frequently stepping outside of their “objectivity” to call out the Trump administration’s mendacities, well, there’s a case to be made that it is actually the job of a free press to resist dishonest demagogues who stand in opposition to democratic principles….

The fact that CNN spent so much of the Trump presidency pushing back on the lies and half-truths peddled by the president as well as his allies in Congress and the right-wing media says less about CNN than it does about the sheer number of lies and half-truths that came out of the Trump administration….

None of Stelter’s partisan behavior and controversies were broached by Peters, as when he pushed now-disgraced and later jailed porn lawyer Michael Avenatti for president. Meanwhile, the host tastelessly attacked Fox News, Donald Trump, and Rush Limbaugh.

In October 2021, he couldn’t let CNN's more successful rival Fox News mark its 25th anniversary without blaming it for…breaking up families? “Full of rage, anger. It’s the whitelash on TV….For the families who feel they have been torn apart by Fox, this week is not a happy anniversary.”

Meanwhile, Peters got heartburn over John Malone (board member at Discovery, CNN’s new owners) praising Fox News for practicing “some actual journalism” among its opinionizing. Peters countered Malone by citing Stelter’s Ahab-like obsession with Fox News.

….it’s an analysis that runs counter to the opinions often voiced on Reliable Sources by Brian Stelter, who in 2020 published a book about Fox News titled Hoax. In it, as well as on his show, Stelter pointed out many of the ways in which Fox News and the Trump administration became increasingly intertwined over the course of the president’s term in office. Stelter’s clarity about Fox News’ flaws led some on the right to describe him as biased. Now, the fear is that these bad-faith critiques have found a receptive audience in the network’s new leadership.

So only “bad faith” partisans could possibly find Stelter less than objective?