For the second straight Sunday, CNN’s “Reliable Sources” and its host Brian Stelter saw their lowest rating of the year while devoting substantial coverage and time to their competitor, Fox News.
According to Nielson Media Research, the morning news show failed to reach over a million viewers for the second time in as many weeks, while also boasting its second-lowest viewership of the year for its key demographic of 25 to 54 year-olds.
It’s no secret that former President Donald Trump was a godsend for CNN's ratings, especially during the last election cycle when the network's viewership increased by 135 percent from the previous year.
But now, with Trump living a much quieter existence out of office and the network’s numbers plummeting, they have been forced to look elsewhere for a new boogie-man. Although given the drop in ratings, it looks like the American people may be catching on to the network’s cheap trick.
Amid CNN's echoing calls for the banning of Fox News, Stelter’s Sunday morning show has spent much of its last two episodes featuring its ideological and finical competitor and their nighttime star, Tucker Carlson.
On his March 14 show, Stelter officially crowned Carlson as the face of all things evil and conservative, saying "Tucker has taken Trump's place as a right-wing leader, as an outrage generator, as a fire-starter, and it's all taking place on Fox, just as Trump's campaign did"
Going on to say, "Every day, Carlson is throwing bombs, making online memes, offending millions of people also delighting millions of others, tapping into white male rage and resentment, stoking distrust of Big Tech and the media, generally coarsening the discourse, never apologizing for anything and setting the GOP's agenda. Sounds like a recently retired president, right?"
While it's generally considered foolish to offer free publicity to a competitor, it seems it may be a staple of the show as it goes forward in a post-Trump world. As the following week, Stelter again went out of his way to cover Carlson and Fox News, highlighting recent reports of national vaccine hesitancy and accusing the network of having nefarious motives behind their habit of asking logical questions.
Stelter concluded his opening monologue with a warning: “Bottom line here, you are what you watch, and it could make you sick.”
First off, for Stelter's sake, I sure hope the calls to ban Fox go unanswered, as his job would likely get substantially more difficult if he didn’t have his frienemy around to react to.
But more importantly, as Stelter focuses on all things Fox and undergoes his ratings-driven transition away from over-reacting to Trump and toward over-reacting to Tucker and Fox News, the data indicates his viewers are getting wise and switching the channel.
While bad news for CNN and Stelter, this rebuke of their sensationalist boogie-man news coverage offers a glimmer of hope during these trying times.