A guest on Brian Stelter’s “Reliable Sources” CNN show publicly aired speculation about whether an influential billionaire was responsible for axing the left-leaning media commentary show.

During the program’s last show on Sunday, Insider’s chief media correspondent Claire Atkinson brought up media tycoon John Malone, a prominent shareholder of CNN’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, questioning whether he was responsible for Stelter’s dismissal, as well as the new direction of the cable news network.

“Is John Malone responsible for axing your show?,” Atkinson asked without pausing for a reply. “I don’t know the answer to that. I think people might suspect it’s political. He’s a libertarian who believes in not paying taxes if he can avoid it.”

John Malone
Rumors continue to swirl over whether John Malone had anything to do with the cancellation of Stelter’s CNN show, even after the influential shareholder denied it.
Getty Images for Vanity Fair
Brian Stelter
Stelter was let go last week amid months of reports that CNN’s new overlords were focusing more on centrist coverage.

“He said he’s not directly involved. That’s an interesting quote,” the reporter continued. “But then, I think he’s a businessman. He’s looking at where the money is, where the audience is. And the viewership on the left is split between CNN and MSNBC, and the viewership on the right is all at Fox News. They have a bigger audience, lots of money, and perhaps he’s saying, ‘You know what, if we shift a little bit this way, maybe we’ll get that, too.’”

“There definitely will be more change,” Stelter said without commenting further.

Last week, Malone told the New York Times that had “nothing to do with” Stelter’s exit but he did call for the network to return to nonpartisan coverage.

Neither CNN nor Malone returned requests for comment on Monday. Last week, CNN reps told The Post that the move to cancel the show was a business decision and that it came from CNN boss Chris Licht.

But both Malone and Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav have spent the last few months underscoring the importance of bringing CNN back to the center.

Stelter had developed a reputation for espousing left-leaning views and clashing with conservatives under ex-CNN boss Jeff Zucker, who amped up the network’s opinion-based coverage most notably during former President Donald Trump’s time in the White House.


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Tyler Cowan