On Sunday, CNN “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter ran a lopsided segment involving my ex-colleague Mickey Kaus in which he offered no real insight into how most every news outlet functions and skipped some important facts. Stelter then got a wee bit sensitive about a Mediaite column by Joe Concha. In it, Concha cited facts and figures about the program — namely ratings and Fox bashing — that got Stelter’s panties in a deep twist.
Concha equated Stelter’s style of reporting to that of ex-MSNBCer Keith Olbermann and said his show was “morphing into Olberman’s non-stop Fox bashing.” Concha also reported that — ouch! — Stelter’s program beat out FNC’s equivalent only twice out of 65 programs since 2013.
What’s more, there’s this telling graph.
“In looking at transcripts of the program on a week-to-week basis since the beginning of this year, Reliable has featured segments critical of Fox News in eight of the 10 shows it has aired. Context: Compare that to the ten shows leading up to Stelter’s tenure as full-time host which were moderated, post-Kurtz departure, by various guest hosts from Frank Sesno to John Avlon to Eric Deggans to David Folkenflik: During that stretch, Fox was only discussed twice in any real capacity.”
Concha asks, “Is the strategy paying off?” And then zaps him with the ratings details.
This made BriStelt very mad.
Concha wasn’t having Stelter’s double-talk. He replied, “Hey Brian- I see 2 wins — both in 2014 — in the 25-54 on March 4 & April 20. 65 shows total since 12/8/13. Is that at issue?”
Stelter accused Concha of “cherry picking” his numbers. He also argued that on last week’s program there was no anti-FNC warfare, which coincides with the columnist’s facts.
But there were other complaints. Soon Stelter got pissy about how the Mediaite columnist described his former job and referred to the late David Carr, the man Stelter recently described as a father figure.
“Separately, I’d ask you to please fix errors like calling me a ‘former media columnist’ (that was David Carr),” Stelter snapped.
Like a baby doe, Concha acquiesced — on this detail, anyway. “Ok- so ‘media reporter’ then?” Concha asked. “I’ll have the editors change that now.”
Concha remained relatively reasonable in the face of Stelter’s tantrum, which was probably tactic as much as anything. Always wise to keep your detractors squirming.
“I chose the latest ratings story, Brian,” he replied. “I didn’t see any for those weeks you mentioned. If it exists, please pass along. But like I said privately when we met & in the column, what you’ve accomplished before age 30 is remarkable. Criticism will come with that success. I have an opinion on the show. You have an opinion. Yours is the one that matters. Enjoy the day- J”
Again, Stelter stiffened. “Invoking my age again seems odd,” he wrote. “Regardless, you know I welcome the opinions. They make the show stronger. Media reporter, yes.”
Stelter’s is the one opinion that matters?
Hilarious. (This is a joke — right?)
At the end of his column, Concha gives Stelter unsolicited advice on how not to ruin his career.
“If he wants this run to continue, it might be time to start to rethink what Reliable Sources is: A program that breaks down big media stories and issues of the day? Or one that engages in inter-network food fights every Sunday morning few outside the bubble care about?”