Hang on. It’s not your Cable Gamer saying that. It’s Brian Flood, long-time Cable Gamer at TV Newser, now an ace reporter for The Wrap. You may have seen his incisive piece taking a closer look at Gretchen Carlson’s ratings woes:
“The Real Story” was the network’s lowest-rated program in both June and in the second quarter among the key demo. Carlson’s show has now lost to CNN more than any other FNC program since the network’s new lineup changes took effect back in October 2013.
What spurred Mr. Flood to make the headlined statement was the first half of today’s Reliable Sources, entirely devoted not to coverage of the Dallas ambush or police shootings or Hillary Clinton’s emails. Only one topic was discussed in the first 30 minutes: Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit against Roger Ailes. Needless to say there was no one to represent the defense though there were multiple prosecutors, including a women’s activist, a gentleman from NPR, and the man of a thousand “sources,” Gabe Sherman. (The Cable Gamer cringed to hear David Zurawik say of Sherman “he does good work, he’s a good reporter”—readers of this site know better.) So Sherman was free to cite the allegations from his “incredibly credible” anonymous sources without challenge.
We have to wonder how heavily the hand of Jeff Zucker plays into this program. Some industry watchers have suggested host Brian Stelter carries water for his boss, and that might explain why, after a week of tumultuous, worldwide-headline news in America, Reliable Sources put all that on the back burner to spend time taking shots at a competitor.
Things weren’t much better when they did get around to more important stories. In discussing several high-profile police shootings with a black activist from Netroots Nation (no representative of an opposing point of view was present), Brian Stelter tossed in this gratuitous gem:
STELTER: I don’t know if FOX News viewers even knew about these police shootings in detail.
What a preposterous, utterly baseless thing for a “media reporter” to say…unless he still hadn’t made his quota of cheap shots against Fox News.
There was also a segment picking apart an interview Don Lemon did with Joe Walsh. Through the entire discussion Brian Stelter managed to make no mention whatsoever that both Lemon and CNN’s Charles Blow erroneously accused Walsh (after he had left) of something he clearly didn’t do. Reliable Sources would have been a good place to correct the record, but CNN doesn’t like to turn a critical lens on the media when it involves one of their own.
How much better to convert the first half of the show into a jeremiad against FNC so untiringly one-sided that one of the top media reporters in the country calls it “declaring war on Fox News.” If, as the saying goes, “all war is based on deception,” then Jeff Zucker has his general in Brian Stelter.