Brian Stelter Makes ‘Reliable Sources’ Debut

By Jordan Chariton 

Brian Stelter, who filled in a few times on “Reliable Sources” the last few months, made his debut as host of the CNN media criticism show this morning. Stelter covered this week’s revolving media door, President Obama‘s media criticism, and the death of Nelson Mandela.

Stelter opened with a panel on Martin Bashir‘s resignation and Sam Champion‘s move to The Weather Channel.

NPR media critic Eric Deggans criticized MSNBC for not suspending Bashir immediately for Bashir’s vile comments toward Sarah Palin, while The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi doubted Bashir’s resignation, suggesting MSNBC President Phil Griffin probably asked him to leave, and allowed Bashir to resign. American University professor Jane Hall said if Bashir didn’t leave, MSNBC would be in the uncomfortable position of looking less bothered by vile comments toward women than about Alec Baldwin’s anti-gay slurs.

Shifting to Sam Champion, Deggans and Farhi disagreed over his departure’s impact on “GMA’s” ratings. Fahri suggested his exit negates the strong “family” image “GMA” has built with its hosts. On President Obama’s media criticism earlier in the week, Deggans agreed with the president, claiming cable news deliberately segments its audiences by pitting people against each other.

Stelter didn’t shy from covering his own network, looking at whether CNN “New Day” anchor Chris Cuomo interviewing his brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo following the tragic New York train derailment presented a conflict of interest. Stelter summed up the interview as great TV, but maybe not great journalism.

Stelter also touched on the death of Nelson Mandela, talking to his former boss at the New York Times, Bill Keller. Keller recounted his 2007 visit with Mandela in South Africa, and the anti-apartheid leader’s shrewdness toward the press. Other topics covered in Stelter’s debut was media coverage of the one-year anniversary of the Newtown shooting and a lighter interview with Ryan Seacrest.

The founder of TVNewser, Stelter wrapped his TV news hosting debut with a mission statement:

“I believe this program matters more than ever,” he said. “These days everyone’s a source…but who’s reliable? What’s reliable?…that’s what this show’s about.”