Reliable Sources Plays Its Trump Card

unreliabilityCable Game insiders know that CNN’s Reliable Sources has been struggling. Last week Reliable had a decent showing but still lost handily to its main competition: Media Buzz on Fox News. This has been the rule rather than the exception. (Salt-in-the-wounds: Buzz anchor Howard Kurtz is the former host of Reliable.) So the powers that be at CNN seem to think they can revive the flailing media analysis show using the same formula they use elsewhere: add plenty of Trump, stir, and serve while hot.

Already there have been at least three special “Trump” editions of Reliable Sources:

And even when it’s not a “special edition” there’s still plenty of Trump on Reliable. Last week, other than a brief discussion on the Supreme Court, Reliable was one Trump segment after another.

Today’s theme was why didn’t the media take Trump seriously, and it opened with a montage of reports from Trump’s announcement day, eliciting this Brian Stelter comment:

STELTER: But the truth is when I watch those clips, I’m just glad I wasn’t on TV that day. I didn’t think Trump would actually head to the race.

Of course Mr. Stelter was on TV many other days, including the one we posted in our preview of this show, where CNN’s media critic laughed off the Trump candidacy, all but saying it wasn’t worth wasting air time on. No surprise, that clip didn’t find its way into today’s show. Instead a group of pundits was convened, with the only conservative voice a Trump supporter, leaving no right-of-center anti-Trump representation. But credibility was given to the likes of Katrina Vanden Heuvel, who reached back to Spiro Agnew for the sort of Golden Oldie that gives readers of The Nation goosebumps. Nancy Gibbs of Time said of Trump’s potential appeal to the electorate:

GIBBS: Yes, it was missed by everyone. It was missed by the media. It was missed by their donors.

That is factually untrue, as readers know from our previous post. Meanwhile Will Bunch managed to kick off today’s discussions by stirring up a heady brew of racism, xenophobia, and Fox News. The Cable Gamer’s Magic 8-Ball sees more Reliable Sources hits in Will Bunch’s future.

Just a few days ago CNN commentator Amanda Carpenter was humiliated on air when, during a debate about candidates’ wives, guest Adriana Cohen accused her of sleeping with Ted Cruz. CNN anchor Kate Bolduan, instead of cutting Cohen off, continued to engage her. Ultimately the anchor had to disavow the allegation and give Ms. Carpenter an opportunity to respond. This spectacularly embarrassing segment was widely reported, but on Reliable Sources it got short shrift:

STELTER: I could definitely do with less of the wife wars.

And that was that. You’d think a slander of one of their own commentators would get more attention from CNN. But they just didn’t have the time to discuss it. That breaking Spiro Agnew angle took precedence.


  1. Michael Bennett

    I find fault with Howard Kurtz on Media Buzz as will with his strong pro Trump bias. But I still enjoyed listing to the discussions about Trump and Cruz in the first two blocks which consume 25% of the program.

    Kudos to Kurtz for not avoiding the National Enquire ‘rumors’ and having a guest from the NYT as well as a guest from the right — Gayle Trotter — who smartly discussed the two GOP front-runners without taking sides.

    Reliable Sources had a good panel as well with Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes making a decent attempt to defend Trump without sounding like a sycophant. The Daily Beast’s John Avalon also offered just opinions on the GOP campaign that were fresh, setting him apart from your typical pundits.

    All things considered a pretty good day for both shows where there was more light than heat.


      • Sydney Bloom

        I immediately looked for as will in my first paragraph and couldn’t find it, then realized you were talking about your first sentence not mine. I know I see an “edit” button but maybe that’s because I’m the admin. So I assume there’s no “edit” option for commenters. WordPress should have that option. Maybe I should look into one of the outside commenting platforms, as if I didn’t have enough plates spinning already. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael Bennett

        Yeah, I’m a big fan of EDIT buttons — including Twitter.

        As a senior and a retiree the older I get the stronger I feel that way. 🙂

        BTW, I agree that what Amanda Carpenter (one of my favorite non-flame throwers) experienced at the hands of Adriana Cohen was trully disgraceful. Ms. Cohen owes her an apology. Good luck with that.


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