In Final Remarks on CNN, Brian Stelter Seriously Tells Viewers 'Don't Give Platforms to Those Lying to Our Faces'


Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.

I’ll give Brian Stelter this much: He lived every day working at CNN like it was his last.

On Aug. 21, the venerable potato hosted his final episode of his show “Reliable Sources.” With that title, it never seemed like a good fit to me; having Stelter in that role was was a bit like having Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hunter S. Thompson and Dorothy Parker hosting a panel show called “Sober Writers Today.”

Unless he gets rehired by the network — and I don’t believe CNN could ever be that dysfunctional, although it has surprised me in that department before — he’s breathed his last on the cable giant.

And he went out by telling America and the world that “we must make sure we don’t give platforms to those lying to our faces.” Which, unless he was telling us that CNN had made the right choice in canceling his show, was pretty much the worst — and yet, pretty much the most Stelter-esque — way he could have possibly exited stage far-left.

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Just in case you’d missed the news: Last week, Stelter confirmed that CNN had canceled “Reliable Sources” in a long-anticipated move.

“It was a rare privilege to lead a weekly show focused on the press at a time when it has never been more consequential,” said the network’s chief media correspondent and host of the poorly rated Sunday show in a statement to NPR. He announced he was also leaving the network.

Since CNN’s parent company merged with Discovery Inc. earlier this year, top executives have signaled they wanted the cable channel to move back to straight news coverage. Stelter was viewed to be first on the chopping block due to his nakedly partisan stances and low audience numbers.

Stelter began his final two-and-a-half minutes on CNN by relating an emotional-if-geeky statement about how he’d been “a media junkie for a long time” and how he “was the kid who spent his days building the school website and producing the school TV show.”

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“And deep down inside, I think I’m still that kid,” Stelter said.

As anyone who has ventured more than a few steps down the path of adulthood can tell you, with maturity comes self-awareness. You learn to measure yourself against who you thought you’d be. You become more aware of what you say. More importantly, you check how well that matches up with what you do.

In short, I’m not sure if Brian Stelter is “still that kid.” I’m fairly certain after watching his closing remarks, however, that in all the ways I just mentioned, he’s still a kid:

The difficult part of “the media ecosystem in 2022,” Stelter said, “is sorting out the treasure from the trash. These are thorny, complicated things. I didn’t have all the answers. I didn’t even have always all the questions.”

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“I know it is not partisan to stand up for decency and democracy and dialogue. It is not partisan to stand up to demagogues … It’s patriotic,” he continued.

“We must make sure we don’t give platforms to those who are lying to our faces. But we also must make sure we are representing the full spectrum of debate and representing what’s going on in this country and in this world.”

So, um. Where do we begin with that slice of arrant hypocrisy?

As the Daily Caller noted, Stelter only admitted during his last month on air at CNN that Hunter Biden’s laptop is real and “not just a right-wing media story.” Back when it mattered, prior to the 2020 election, Stelter had been a laptop truther, saying he thought the laptop was “tied to a Russian disinformation effort.”

“There’s a lot about this story that does not add up,” he said in October 2020. “And, I mean, for all we know, these emails were made up, or maybe some are real and others are fakes, we don’t know. But we do know that this is a classic example of the right-wing media machine.”

Remember the words of Brian Stelter, though: “Don’t give platforms to those lying to our faces.”

Two months before he said that, he asked a panel of guests, “When you see entire media companies essentially exist to tear down Joe Biden, is there an equivalent to that on the left, tearing down Trump?”

On CNN — a network where you could practically hear the hosts giggling and snickering under their breath about how much Trump-baiting was juicing their ratings, all while pretending the 45th president was a Very Grave Threat to Democracy Everywhere™ — Brian Stelter once had the audacity to ask where one might find a network dedicated to “tearing down Trump.”

But remember: “Don’t give platforms to those lying to our faces.”

And it’s not just when he’s actually on CNN! Here’s Stelter on Twitter in November, back when supply-chain shortages had begun forcing many to go without the necessities of modern life, insinuating to social media users that it was all just a hoax because his local supermarket had milk.

But please, please, please, the now-former host of “Reliable Sources” beseeches you: “Don’t give platforms to those lying to our faces.”

Right. Brian Stelter is not like the month of March. He went out at CNN exactly like he came in: As a partisan hack who represented everything glib, confrontational and meretricious about the network during the Trump years. He turned “Reliable Sources,” once a serious media criticism program, into fatuous, liberal press gossip roundtable that spent most of its time obsessing over a) Donald Trump, b) Fox News or c) How Fox News covers Donald Trump.

Yet, all the while, Stelter never stopped pretending it was actually more serious and necessary than ever.

It’s so necessary that, 17 months and a day after his punching bag left the White House, Brian Stelter was ushered out of CNN, wholly redundant to the channel that he helped defined and that helped define him.

“We are all members of the media, and we are all helping to make it better,” Stelter said as he drew to a conclusion. And for once, he was partially right: A few seconds later, he disappeared from CNN, hopefully for good. As improving the media ecosystem goes, I doubt any gesture in his final episode of “Reliable Sources” could have done as much.

The only thing I can think of that would top that, in fact, is if the camera operator had pulled the plug right after he had the risible gall to insist we shouldn’t “give platforms to those lying to our faces.”

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture