There is a feeling that I need to apologize. The past year has seen me becoming immersed in coverage of the media, as a result of the pandemic (Thanks, DeSantis!), and as a result, covering CNN’s resident media Hall Monitor Brian Stelter becomes inevitable. Just out of avoidance of redundancy I try to steer away from the man whenever possible, but the guy makes this difficult; nearly every single time he opens his mouth a Krugerrand falls out.
Case in point, this week I desired to cover anyone else in the media landscape, and still, he demands attention, backing into notoriety in his trademarked fashion. So once again, apologies — and, you are welcome. As one example, this Spring there was a revealing reality when Brian took a week off. Upon his return from vacation, the ratings fell by 100,000 viewers, when his guest host saw a rise the week prior.
The latest episode concerning Mr. Stelter initially looks innocuous, but as has been the case this involves ratings, and that particular subject has been a minefield for the man. As most know, CNN has suffered significant audience flight, and in particular, Brian’s show, Reliable Sources, has been affected. He has failed to draw a million viewers over the past few months, with numbers below 700K frequently seen. On Fox News, the similar show Media Buzz is on at the same time, and 1.2 million viewers is the norm for host Howard Kurtz.
Anytime Brian addresses the erosion of his viewers he dismisses the discussion, calling ratings a cyclical animal and that it is a foolhardy data point to overemphasize. While there has been a slide in viewers across all news networks CNN has seen a precipitous fall. And then there are those moments when there is an uptick moment at CNN, and suddenly Stelter is full of boastful pride. Case in point, he recently touted the performance of his network over the weekend.
Sunday's highest rated cable news program in the 25-54 demo: CNN's 11am hour of Branson launch coverage. Special shoutouts to @RachCrane, @KristinFisher, and superb producing teams in Atlanta, NYC and New Mexico!
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) July 13, 2021
Now, here is where things turn amusing. For starters, his prior argument of ratings attention being overblown due to cycles makes his raving over a one-time event basically neutered. But things get better.
The launch of Richard Branson’s spacecraft was delayed for weather, so when CNN decided to run the flight live it meant pre-empting scheduled programming. So here we see Stelter bragging about how well the network performed in the 11:00 am hour — at the time when his own show, with dismal ratings, would normally have been run.
This marks the second time that we have ratings data revealing that the network manages to perform better in the absence of Brian Stelter. It is enough to make you wonder, following the recent major media merger of AT&T/Warner Brothers/Discover, which involves CNN, when the new management will get around to noticing these rather revealing metrics.
UPDATED JULY 13, 2021, 7:45 PM EDT: RedState was contacted by Brian Stelter with a request for correction. Mr. Stelter anchored the hour-long telecast, which was branded as a Reliable Sources episode and featured the show’s logo onscreen for the launch coverage. Even as CNN provided live coverage of the event and extensive background on Richard Branson’s career and his supernal vehicle, this was in fact considered a Reliable Sources episode and the ratings will be counted towards the show’s annual ratings. We apologize for the error.