CNN’s Brian Stelter draws smallest audience of 2021 in category coveted by advertisers

Media top headlines October 12

In media news today, ABC News says Krysten Sinema has ‘taken a hard turn to the right,’ Ben & Jerry’s co-founders are stumped on why they refuse to sell ice cream in Israel but do business in red states, and Samantha Bee admits she didn’t want to attack Andrew Cuomo last year

CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with left-wing host Brian Stelter hit a new ratings low on Sunday in the category most coveted by advertisers. 

“Reliable Sources” averaged only 90,000 viewers among the key news demographic of adults age 25-54, its smallest audience of the year among the group. The dismal performance marked only the second time Stelter’s show failed to attract 95,000 viewers in the demo.

CNN’s Brian Stelter hit a new ratings low on Sunday in the category most coveted by advertisers. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for WarnerMedia) 
(Kevin Mazur)

Stelter, a former New York Times reporter, made news during the show when he sparked backlash by pondering why there isn’t a “New York Times of the right.” The liberal host raised eyebrows with the remarks, with some critics charging he’d admitted his former employer leans left while also overlooking prominent conservative news organizations. 

“Reliable Sources” also struggled among total viewers, averaging only 726,000 to finish below 800,000 for the sixth straight week. Stelter dropped viewers from last month’s record low, but it wasn’t his smallest single-show audience of the year, as seven episodes of the struggling program have had smaller audiences in 2021. 

“Reliable Sources,” which claims to cover the media industry but often overlooks stories that are harmful to liberal news organizations, has now attracted fewer than 900,000 viewers in 12 of the past 13 weeks. 

Stelter’s show finished September with its smallest monthly audience of the year, averaging only 738,000 viewers. The audience has dropped 59% since January and shed 18% of its August viewership. 

The program also hit a yearly low among the demo last month, averaging only 130,000 viewers between ages 25-54 during the month, although that total is larger than the 90,000 who tuned in to the October 10 episode. 

The CNN media program primarily focuses on news that puts a negative light on Republicans and conservative news organizations while rarely mentioning issues at CNN and MSNBC. 

The “Reliable Sources” host spent much of 2021 downplaying the journalistic ethics violations made by CNN colleague Chris Cuomo, who was repeatedly swept up in the scandals plaguing his brother, former New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

All data courtesy of Nielsen Media Research. 

Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.  

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