CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with left-wing host Brian Stelter wrapped up a dismal 2021 with a nine-month streak of failing to crack the one-million-viewer plateau as the program has struggled for relevancy during the Biden era.
Stelter, who spent years nitpicking former President Trump’s every move, saw his audience erode throughout the year with President Biden in office. “Reliable Sources” averaged 1.4 million viewers during the first quarter but dropped to only 846,000 during the second quarter.
The program that claims to cover the media industry hovered in that range until the final three months of 2021 when it shed 50% of Q1 viewers to finish the fourth quarter with only 696,000 average viewers.
“Reliable Sources” lost even more viewers as the year went on in the advertiser-coveted demographic of adults age 25-54, losing a staggering 68% of its Q1 audience by Q4 by dropping from 299,000 demo viewers to only 95,000.
Stelter’s program finished 2021 with an average audience of 947,000 to land outside the top 200 most-watched cable programs behind a variety of cartoons, reruns and niche programming, such as HGTV’s “Wasted Space.”
“Reliable Sources” failed to average 900,000 during any of the final three quarters of the year and hasn’t reached that figure for the past 17 episodes.
Stelter spent much of the year criticizing social media companies over “disinformation” and fretting about conservative media coverage. Along the way, he developed a reputation for ignoring or downplaying media stories that cast liberals and Democrats in a negative light.
The program that claims to examine “the story behind the story — how news and pop culture get made” skipped a plethora of media industry news, including MSNBC getting banned from the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse; a stunning Washington Post correction on its reporting involving the debunked Steele dossier; CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta admitting his colleagues shouldn’t have described Joe Rogan’s use of ivermectin the way they did; and Jeffrey Toobin’s shocking return to CNN following a masturbation scandal.
Fox News’ “MediaBuzz” with Howard Kurtz, which is a direct time slot competition to “Reliable Sources,” outdrew Stelter’s struggling CNN program by 42% among total viewers and 19% among the key demo for the year.
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.