CNN has reportedly hired ousted and disgraced Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski “as a political commentator, according to a source familiar with the arrangement. It’s a salaried position and will make Lewandowski exclusive to CNN, effective immediately.” This is extremely irresponsible.
CNN’s decision is particularly objectionable given that Corey Lewandowski was charged with assaulting a female reporter (the charges were later dropped) and has a reputation for harassing female reporters and staffers. If I were a woman working at CNN right now, I’d be very angry about CNN’s apparent indifference to his treatment of women.
But, beyond that, Lewandowski’s hiring is indicative of broader problems in cable news.
First: The drivers of political news are already overwhelmingly white, conservative, and male. Hiring Lewandowski – who is himself white, conservative, and male – more deeply entrenches that existing problem.
Secondly: Cable news is absurdly welcoming to rightwing extremists like Lewandowski.
The classic example is Ann Coulter – and she’s the classic example for a reason. Among other things, Coulter has said that a baseball bat is “the most effective way” to talk to liberals; that we need to “execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too”; that 9/11 widows were “enjoying their husbands’ death”; that her “only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building”; and that, regarding President Bill Clinton, there should only have been “debates only about whether to impeach or assassinate.”
Despite her incessant disgorgements of eliminationist rhetoric about liberals, Coulter remains a mainstay on cable news (in addition to appearances she’s made on The Tonight Show, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, The Daily Show, and Real Time with Bill Maher, in addition to a co-hosting gig on The View).
Conservative firebrand Hugh Hewitt hasn’t made a habit of using violent imagery like Coulter, but the syndicated radio host – who also writes for the extremist site Townhall, and whose latest book is entitled The Queen: The Epic Ambition of Hillary and the Coming of a Second Clinton Era (notably disappointing for his inability to squeeze any more sexist narratives into a single book title) – isn’t merely a guest on cable news, either. He’s been elevated to moderating presidential debates.
Lewandowski will definitely be in familiar company.