Brian Stelter’s Show, Which Opened By Taking Aim At Tucker, Sees Lowest Rating Of 2021

Screenshot CNN

Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
Font Size:

CNN host Brian Stelter’s show “Reliable Sources” saw its lowest ratings of the year Sunday, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Stelter began Sunday’s show with a lengthy segment – complete with four panelists – where he accused Fox News’ Tucker Carlson of being “the new Donald Trump.” The segment also called out Fox News for being what Stelter called “a political tool” that is radicalizing.

“Here’s my conclusion,” Stelter declared at the start of his show. “Tucker Carlson is the new Donald Trump. 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.” (RELATED: ‘Fox Is Going Full Tucker’: Brianna Keilar And Brian Stelter Claim Fox News Is Taking A Hard Right For The Ratings)

“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?” Stelter continued.

Afterward, Stelter’s show made headlines across various websites for his comments about Carlson. But the segment itself didn’t seem to draw in as many eyeballs, with the overall show garnering 940,000 in total viewers, according to the data.

This number is a new low for “Reliable Sources” so far this year, according to Nielsen Media Research data. With less than one million total viewers, Sunday’s show marked a downturn from previous 2021 ratings. Jan. 10, for example, saw Stelter’s show draw in 2.674 million viewers and 629,000 for the key demographic age group, data shows.

Networks and industry observers expected – and saw – a drop in viewership after former President Donald Trump left office, though CNN’s ratings saw a steeper decline than MSNBC and Fox News one week post-Trump, according to Variety.


Stelter defended his segment about Carlson and the network’s numbers Tuesday during a brief Twitter spat with journalist Glenn Greenwald, who wrote that CNN’s ratings are “in free fall.”

“Ratings are not in free fall, Glenn,” Stelter claimed. “They’re just coming back to pre-election levels, as expected. I am covering the news, not conducting ‘auditions.’ Tucker is big media news. If you don’t agree, say so. But don’t dream up sinister motives and claim to know what’s in my head.”

“Reliable Sources” also saw lower numbers for the key 25-54 demographic Sunday with 192,000 viewers, according to the data. The week prior garnered 1.042 million total viewers and 223,000 in the key demographic.

While Stelter’s show decreased in the key demographic for the week, it still turned out on top for the hour, beating both Fox News and MSNBC. The show has beaten the competition for this age group every month since November.