CNN’s top media reporter, Brian Stelter, lashed out at the network’s critics — even as he failed to address colleagues’ criticism about his failure to report on the romantic affair that led to his former boss Jeff Zucker’s bombshell ouster last week.
Critics have targeted Stelter for failing to expose Zucker’s relationship with another senior executive, Allison Gollust. At least one CNN insider has called for Stelter to be fired for missing the story on the relationship — which has been described as an “open secret” among employees for years.
Stelter has yet to address the criticism directed at his reporting, but he devoted a major chunk of his show “Reliable Sources” on Sunday to defending the network’s journalism, asserting CNN is “so much bigger than any single individual” and more focused on news than opinion coverage.
“The people who say we’re lacking journalism, that we’ve become an ‘all talk’ channel, that we’ve run off and we’re all opinions all the time, that Jeff Zucker led us astray — those people aren’ t watching CNN,” Stelter said. “They’re watching complaints about CNN on other channels that don’t know what they’re talking about.”
That’s despite the fact that half of CNN’s 18 hours of live programming each day — including all of its primetime lineup — consists of shows that are mainly focused on opinion.
The odd rant came just days after Zucker abruptly resigned as CNN’s president after admitting he failed to properly disclose his relationship with Gollust. Shortly after the relationship went public, a CNN insider argued the network “needs to step up and fire Brian Stelter” for missing the story.
“He is allegedly our top media reporter — yet he failed to report on the scoop that everyone in the office knew,” the insider said, according to the Daily Mail. “And if he wants to say he didn’t know, he is truly terrible at his job.”
An unnamed cable news veteran told the outlet that Stelter “should be calling his agent to start looking for another job.”
“He’s been Jeff Zucker’s water boy for years and no one believes he didn’t know about all of this,” the media veteran said.
Sources told The Post that Zucker’s relationship with Gollust was the “worst-kept secret in TV.”
Current and former CNN staffers, including ex-anchor Soledad O’Brien, have described the relationship between Zucker and Gollust as an “open secret” dating back years.
Meanwhile, Stelter described Zucker’s exit on Sunday as “the ugliest shakeup at CNN since the days Ted Turner was walking the halls.”
Stelter has linked Zucker’s decision to resign to CNN and its parent WarnerMedia’s ongoing legal battle with fired former anchor Chris Cuomo, who was dismissed after assisting his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his response to allegations of sexual misconduct while in office. Cuomo resigned as governor last year as he faced mounting political pressure.
Stelter described the links between Cuomo’s resignation as governor and Zucker’s exit at CNN as “almost Shakespearean.”