We Watch CNN’s ‘Reliable Sources’ So You Don’t Have To (10-29-17)


Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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On A Polka Dot Sofa Somewhere In The Midwest–What’s red, white and blue and stuffed into a dark suit?

Hear him roar. Today your CNN “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter is wearing a dark suit paired with a spanking white button-down and a red, white and blue striped tie and talking about sexual harassment finally getting the attention it deserves. Male faces float by in a pictorial montage. Among them are Ben Affleck (groped a MTV host), Mark Halperin (had an underling sit on his lap at the office), and Harvey Weinstein (allegedly ejaculated in a potted plant, weirdo massages, alleged rape, etc..).

“But are journalists playing catch up?” Brian asks in a voice that sounds like he spent the morning being given voice lessons by Alvin and the Chipmunks.

But first, it’s time for Brian’s favorite hobby: pummeling President Trump.

He throws up one of Trump’s Russia tweets.

“All of this Russia talk right when right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT.”

Stelter tells us what we already know – that someone close to Trump could be arrested as early as Monday in relation to Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

So let’s start out with a CNN justice reporter who has no new info and isn’t afraid to say how much he doesn’t know. Standing by is what Brian calls his “all-star panel.”

“Do we know anything more than we knew on Friday?” Brian asks.

“Well Brian quite honestly we don’t,” replies Shimon Prokupecz.


Prokupecz says he has no idea who will be arrested. “It’s still quite a mystery to all of us,” he says.

Good talk.

On a positive note, Prokupecz cleans up well in his pale blue button-down and dark blazer and no-tie ensemble. I’m digging the no-tie TV look – it says f u cable news. It says, ‘I’m laid back and I’m going to say whatever the f–k I please. I’ve even going to tell you I don’t know shit about shit.’

CNN Political Analyst Carl Bernstein’s medium blue tie is askew. He’s being patched in from the Hamptons where he’s once again in a non-descript library-type looking room with lots of cerebral bookshelves behind him.

Is Bernstein – who’s fittingly wearing brown tweed — concerned about leaking of Mueller’s impending charges?

He says there are many sources of information and he’s not telling what he might know. Which is a boon for this “ALL STAR” panel that so far knows absolutely nothing.

Politico Playbook writer Jake Sherman is the only one brave enough so far on the program to wear a burst of red with his bright tie.

Brian wants to know, “Is there a feeling of tension?”

Sherman says you have to keep in mind that Trump has no legislative achievements and midterm elections are “right around the corner.” Sherman says there is going to be info that emerges in the next few days that Republicans on Capitol Hill will have to answer to – Sherminator calls this a “tough dynamic.”

I can’t watch Sherman and not think of his celebrity lookalike Fred Savage who was “Kevin Arnold” on TV’s “The Wonder Years.” (And then I can’t help but think of what a dick Savage is on that new Netflix series Friends From College because the actor refuses to hang out with his fellow thespians off camera because he has a strict asshole policy.)

Sherman, who has been known to socialize with his Politico coworkers, hypothesizes what could happen for Republicans if Trump pardons someone who is charged in Mueller’s investigation. “This is kind of a nightmare scenario,” he says.

“I don’t know about you guys, but this is like the calm before the storm,” Brian says.

Bernstein, who doesn’t seem to give two fucks about what anyone else on this ALL STAR panel is saying, totally interrupts Brian and chops off the second half of the host’s sentence to ask, “BRIAN CAN I ADD SOMETHING HERE?”

I normally have a ton of reverence for the elderly, but I can’t help but wonder if Bernstein has turned his Miracle Ear on blast.

“It’s not the job of the press here to take down a president,” the crusty veteran journalist says, burping out some lecture about journalism and truth. “What the press needs to be doing is to find the best attainable version of the truth and so far has been doing a good job of it. … Let’s find out the facts. And it’s very difficult to do in an atmosphere where the president lies and brings misinformation to the table.”

Ahhh…music to Brian’s ears – Trump lies.

Next up – Brian blasts Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, a former DA and judge, for saying Hillary Clinton should be locked up.

Jesus. We’re back with another panel. Bernstein is still here but now we have another elderly man with a puff of white hair. His name is Bruce Bartlett, and he’s the author of The Truth Matters.

“How do we avoid splintering in two separating Americas living in two alternative realities?” Brian asks. (Did he scarf down a pot brownie before the show?)

Bartlett also has the no-tie look I like. He’s also busy criticizing Brian’s segment opener. So far, he gets an A+.

“You can be critical of me here,” Brian says, weirdly giving his guest permission to insult him. Should he not report what is being reported in the right-wing media?

This is when Bartlett gets really long-winded and completely kisses the host’s ass. Just horrifying.

“No, but there has to be a better way of doing it to discount [the fact] that Fox is really just an arm of the Republican Party and should not be given the respect that a genuine news organization like CNN or the New York Times or the Washington Post are deserving (sic) and it should be treated like statements from Sarah Huckabee Sanders, as PR and nothing more,” he says.

Brian turns to Carl for — God help us — something coherent. “Carl do you have any solutions for us?” he asks, utterly helpless.

Carl is in a fog. He pauses for a beat too long. OK phew, he’s back. (Honestly, this segment would be 1000 percent better if Bernstein talked with a mouth full of saltine crackers.)

“I think that when the president of the United States or Fox or those who support him puts something out there that becomes a big part of the debate, we’re obligated to report on it as part of the debate and then try to do our own reporting and fact check it,” he says.

Bernstein babbles on about Mueller’s Russia probe for awhile, how important it is and what a bad attitude Trump has about it. He says Trump is completely uninterested. Considering Trump’s own family members could end up on Mueller’s chopping block, it’s not surprising that he’s not pulling out the pompoms.

Something Bernstein might find useful: Less is more.

We are nearly at the halfway mark. I feel excitement in my intestines – a light at the end of the tunnel sort of feeling.

Bernstein is still talking and it involves something about finding the truth “wherever it leads.” I can’t really hear what he’s saying anymore because he’s repeating himself in a lot of words.

Bartlett is also repeating himself now. He’s again calling Fox News “propaganda.”

OMFG. Bernstein is still talking. STILL talking. My eardrums are officially closed.

Next up: sexual harassment. I think I may want to watch this. But if Bernstein is still on the goddamn panel, I may have to tear my hair out.

It’s 11:34 a.m.

The panel is CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy who broke the blockbuster Mark Halperin is a disgusting pervert story and Guardian’s Jessica Valenti, who wrote Sex Object: A Memoir.

Darcy deserves high praise for his detailed story in which five women came forward to out Halperin’s admittedly atrocious behavior. Halperin won’t admit the violent stuff — but the soft-core sexual harassment, sure, he can cop to that.

The CNNer says NBC is the only company that hasn’t completely severed ties with Halperin.

Darcy says he has spoken to accusers who refuse to come forward. “They feel there might be repercussions toward their career,” he says.

I would like Darcy to try the no-tie blazer look – he’s wearing a skinny red tie paired with a navy blue blazer and non-starched white button-down.

Valenti says it’s important for the victims that journalism has high standards for sexual harassment reporting.

CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju is on the show.

This is a good get for Brian in that Raju is smart, he has a full head of hair and he’s not annoying (full disclosure: He’s a former coworker from my days at The Hill). The host bragged that Raju won the Joan S. Barone award for congressional reporting. Brian wants to know if it’s because Raju has good shoes.

“You can really just go up to anyone and ask a question,” Raju says of the beauty of questioning lawmakers in the halls of Congress.

He says the key to being a congressional reporter is knowing where lawmakers go to avoid the media. “That’s the trick,” he says.

An interview with CBS “60 Minutes” Executive Producer Jeff Fager winds up today’s program. Brian uses it as another reason to bash Trump.

Former President Obama gave the program a dozen interviews. Trump? Zero.

“I think the ’60 Minutes’ interview is an important interview to do,” Fager said. “They know it’s going to be tough, but direct and fair.”

Brian says Trump is staying in his safe space at Fox News.

Fager disagreed. He says he  thinks Trump will ultimately give in.