Cable 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.