Brian Stelter concluded his time at CNN on Sunday by hosting the final episode of the network’s long-running media analysis program Reliable Sources.
Stelter opened the broadcast by noting the elephant in the room—and added he will have more to say about the show’s cancellation later in the 11 a.m. hour. “I love this show,” Stelter opened. “This small but mighty show punched above its weight for so many years. Even a former president [Donald Trump] commented on the cancellation. Reliable Sources has been a one of a kind show—and a popular show. This is one of CNN’s highest rated weekend shows. So, I want to say thank you to all of you watching around the world. I was lucky to be a part of it for nine years.”
Stelter then conducted a one-on-one with Carl Bernstein, facilitated discussion about threats to global press freedom and hosted his final roundtable media panel discussion—which featured Insider chief media correspondent Claire Atkinson wondering aloud if Warner Bros. Discovery top shareholder/CNN coverage critic John Malone had any say in the decision to cancel Stelter—before getting into a “goodbye” monologue to wrap up the series and his time at the network.
“So here we are, together, in a super strange situation,” Stelter began. “The phenomenal team has been working around the clock on this special hour ever since Thursday. No one from CNN management has reviewed my script ahead of time. They have no idea what I’m going to say and—as the control room very well know—I typically go off the script anyway.
So, I want to thank my wife. This is a selfie that she napped on snapped on the first day I had the honor of hosting this show, right before we were about to get married, before all the kids and craziness. Every Sunday that I was here but, my home team was working too. So, thank you, Jamie. And to my amazing kids, sometimes it feels like the only time they ever really want to play with me is when I’m running out the door to work. They will be in for a surprise this week, right?”
Stelter proceeded to thank a variety of executives, in addition to his production staff—including [former CNN president] Jeff Zucker “for believing in me, for having my back through everything, even through the death threats.” Stelter also thanked CNN talent chief Amy Entelis “for calling me and asking me to try out,” he thanked former CNN digital chief Andrew Morse “for letting me expand the show into a podcast and more,” and even thanked Chris Licht “for letting us say goodbye.”
Stelter added, “Some of you know I’ve been a media junkie for a long time. I was the kid who spent his days building a school website and tv show—and I think I’m still that kid. I never thought I’d actually be on TV. I just liked writing about TV.
“I know this is going to sound like B.S., but I actually thought I didn’t have enough hair to be on TV. I am just that kid who loves television and loves the internet and thinks these are incredibly powerful forces in our society.
So much of the media ecosystem in 2022 is garbage, but so much of it is spectacular! The hard part is sorting out the treasure from the trash.”
The longtime TV newser ended in an uplifting note, saying, “We are all members of the media, all helping to make it better. That’s what I believe.”
Watch for the full “goodbye” monologue:
That was a lot of fun. Thank you to every single viewer. pic.twitter.com/tD5KVHGvMR
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) August 21, 2022