‘Reliable Sources’ Critiques Christiane Amanpour on ‘This Week’

By Alex Weprin 

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CNN’s “Reliable Sources” had a segment with awfully quick turnaround this morning.

Host Howard Kurtz brought on Kansas City Star television critic Aaron Barnhart to discuss Christiane Amanpour’s debut as host of ABC’s ‘This Week’, barely an hour after it aired.

Said Barnhart:

Well, I think she played to her strengths as a well-prepared researcher, someone who comes loaded for bear for her interviews. These were gets that were — they were published on the Web ahead of time. We could watch much of the segments ahead of time.

So, that part is the known quantity about Christiane. The unknown quantity is the back half of the show, which is the roundtable, where she’s expected to let her guests sort of hold forth and move the news agenda forward. And in that, she seemed a little less ready for the new environment she was thrown into there.

Update: From Barnhart, who writes in from Beverly Hills: “I wasn’t in Kansas City for the segment, I was in LA on TV critics press tour, meaning that I watched the East Coast feed at CNN’s bureau at 6 a.m.! Still, when you compare it to Oscars night – where my review is due about two minutes after the ceremony ends – this was a walk in the park.”

The program also discussed the hyper-partisan state of cable news earlier today, referencing the Shirley Sherrod case and the New Black Panther party coverage, among other topics.

Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik, former CNN exec turned George Washington University professor Frank Sesno, Former USA Today managing editor Lauren Ashburn and CBS News White House correspondent Chip Reid talked about the rhetoric.

After playing a series of clips comprised mostly of MSNBC and Fox News commentators, Kurtz threw to the panel.

From the transcript:

REID: Not to be a Pollyanna again, I do believe that we can and probably are overstating this, though, because if you did not have Fox News, you could not have made that clip you just made. The average American doesn’t watch Fox News. Yes, they make money in the world of cable TV

KURTZ: Many viewers watch Fox News —


SESNO: When CNN first went on the air, the average American didn’t watch CNN. But CNN had a disproportionate impact even in those early days because it was on where it was on and it influenced the influences.

REID: We repeat it and repeat it in the media echo chamber here in
Washington, D.C.