What exactly are the qualifications to host a show on CNN? The most obvious seems to be an astonishing lack of professional shame — and I’m not even talking about the circus act Chris Cuomo’s been doing for the past year.
Reliable Sources is the most ironically named show in all of cable news, given that the guest roster regularly includes Dan Rather. On this Sunday’s episode, host Brian Stelter partook in a highly embarrassing act of professional self-debasement, in a segment in which he offered schoolgirl giggles and petty star-gazing over White House press secretary Jen Psaki. Stelter acted like a privileged fan of Psaki, giddy to just be basking in her celebrity aura for a brief moment of her precious time. Stelter regularly claims his show covers all things media — when he actually just means all things Fox News. He usually invites other like-minded guests on to bicker about Fox News, like a clique from a bad Nineties teen movie. That’s all fine and good, as that is what CNN has chosen for its business model, but Brian Stelter also claims to be a real journalist who tackles hard issues.
So when Stelter behaves like an Entertainment Tonight host with the spokesperson for the most powerful man in the world, it should raise eyebrows, even among his inner circle, who hopefully have begun the process of planning an intervention. Stelter opened his segment by asking Psaki, ‘What does the press get wrong when covering Biden’s agenda?’ As it turned out it would only get more ridiculous from there. He allowed Psaki to pontificate on Biden’s agenda unchallenged, save a couple of ‘ooh’s and ‘ahh’s and a bellowing forced ‘ha!’, without challenging her on any of the very real and mounting issues facing this administration.
He then asked Psaki to give journalists further advice: ‘For journalists who watch what you do, what’s your advice for them about trying to stay as close to the truth in this world of lies?’ and lamented the GOP and the future of the country by comparing their children. This is the kind of chat two people have outside their local brunch spot while waiting for a table, and it’s certainly not becoming of anyone invested in their professional reputation as a journalist.
For anyone still wondering why Joe Biden or President Ron Klain chose Psaki, a former CNN contributor, to be the daily public face for this administration, look no further than Brian Stelter’s coddling and unabashed fangirling. This administration knows Brian Stelter is a mark, someone who has advanced his career solely by sucking up to power, whether it be in the Obama and Biden White House or Warner Media. Stelter, remember, wrote a tell-all about NBC, but somehow forgot to include a chapter on Matt Lauer. Oops!
Brian Stelter is someone who simply loves the comfort of the chair he’s in. That would be all well and good if that chair didn’t sit in front of a camera broadcasting out to a couple thousand viewers nationally every week.
CNN has devolved into a playground of celebrity narcissists whose only job is to perform the news and do the dance that Jeff Zucker tells them to — not report news or inform viewers. They all play their role, whether it’s Anderson Cooper’s nightly fainting couch hyperbole over the January 6 Capitol riots, or Chris Cuomo’s comedy double act with his brother, or Jake Tapper’s fallacious ‘last honest man in Washington’ shtick, or Jim Acosta dropping awkward burns of Donald Trump that he gleamed off Twitter. But none of them have sullied themselves the way Stelter did this past Sunday. His colleagues who claim to be just as a rigorous and dedicated journalist as Brian should be embarrassed for him. Clearly he is incapable of feeling so himself.