Friday, 8 July 2016
Give CNN credit for hiring Lewandowski and Hughes
When it comes to finding those willing to go on the air to defend presumptive Republican nomineeDonald Trump on a daily and even hourly basis, the list isn't exactly a long one.
In fact, never before in the cable news era have we had so few who are up for the job. As you may have heard, Trump is provocative, he's unpredictable, a candidate like we've never seen before. Most importantly, he's very active on Twitter — meaning if you're a talking head who supports Trump, you may be called to defend a controversial, ill-advised and even impossible to logically defend tweet or retweet with little time to prep.
So if you're a cable news network looking to present a typical debate segment between aHillary Clinton surrogate or supporter with the same on the Trump side, the options tend to be fleeting. And if the goal is to actually have that person on call at all times via being an official contributor to the network (a resource who gets paid and is exclusive to said network), that means — in the case of Trump — hiring folks who may raise a few eyebrows.
Cases in point: Corey Lewandowski and Scottie Nell Hughes. The former is the former campaign manager for the Trump campaign who had been involved in plenty of controversies of his own while working for the billionaire — most notably a highly publicized incident involving former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields that led to her pressing charges for simple assault after Lewandowski grabbed her arm when she got too close to Trump at a Florida event.
Lewandowski was hired by CNN in June just days after being fired from Team Trump. The media bubble exploded in outrage, with the network being called to task for hiring such a person who was seen as a bully and pundit who would never dare criticize Trump, thanks to a nondisclosure agreement stating he couldn't.
But ask yourself this: How does that really differ from other pro-(insert candidate here) paid pundits on other networks? Nobody seems to have a problem with Paul Begala at CNN, who openly and proudly displays his love for Hillary Clinton. There's no issue apparently when Rachel Maddow gives big hugs to Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Clinton on stage after moderating a debate for a national audience to see. Fox News employs Karl Rove, who founded a super-PAC called American Crossroads and provides political analysis for the network on a regular basis.
The point is, American audiences know the cake is baked when seeing certain pundits on the air. So when CNN has Lewandowski or Hughes on for a segment, they know he or she is blatantly pro-Trump. That's the goal: To provide balance and avoid being an echo chamber. The picks may not be perfect in eyes of some, but if a list of better prospects is out there, I'd sure love to see it. Because when it comes to advocating and defending Trump, it simply doesn't exist.
Corey Lewandowski. Scottie Nell Hughes. Both unapologetic Trump supporters, both with one of the most challenging jobs in media given their candidate's rhetoric or social media activity at any given moment.
But give CNN credit. They're trying to offer up perspectives from each campaign. That's the bigger point here.
Concha is The Hill's media reporter and a frequent cable news and radio pundit.