CNN contributor Dana Loesch's particular brand of vitriol has been absent from the network's airwaves since July 25. While CNN announced her hiring last year by saying it was "gearing up for the election season," the network has not called on the inflammatory right-wing radio host to comment on political events including the Democratic and Republican national conventions or the presidential or vice presidential debates.
In the first seven months of this year Loesch appeared on CNN dozens of times, sometimes making several appearances a day. But she was on CNN only three times in June and twice in July, and has not appeared since, according to a search of the Nexis database that was confirmed through a search of transcripts in our own database.
Loesch's three-month absence from CNN follows what a CNN executive described as her effective but unannounced suspension earlier this year. The suspension came after Loesch responded to news that U.S. Marines had allegedly urinated on the dead bodies of Taliban forces by saying of the incident, "I'd drop trou and do it too."
The Breitbart.com contributor has a long history of inflammatory comments, both preceding and following her February 2011 hiring by CNN. At the time, the network announced her hiring as part of their effort to "gear up for the election season with the addition of political contributors from across the ideological spectrum," and said she would "appear across the network's prime time programs, as well as other dayparts and platforms."
CNN has not responded to repeated requests from Media Matters regarding Loesch's absence from their airwaves and whether or not she remains employed by the network.
Loesch's January "drop trou" comments were widely criticized across the political spectrum, including by several CNN on-air journalists. One CNN contributor told Media Matters that such comments have a "negative impact on the CNN brand," and criticized the network for providing "no pushback or no real conversation that says, 'Look, you make these kinds of comments or you write these kinds of wild, crazy stuff, that's just not what we're about.'"
In February, Politico's Dylan Byers reported that CNN quietly stopped booking Loesch for two-and-a-half-weeks after those comments. He wrote, "So CNN executives were concerned with her comments -- or with the coverage surrounding her comments -- just not concerned enough to issue a formal suspension."
But according to a new book by Tampa Bay Times media critic Eric Deggans, she was "effectively suspended" for the comments. Deggans reports that in an interview, Mark Whitaker, executive vice president and managing editor of CNN Worldwide, told him:
"In Dana Loesch's case, she was effectively suspended... We didn't make it public and she accepted it without making it public on her end, either. But we took her off the air for several weeks and it was directly related to the things she said." [Race-Baiter, pg. 149]
Whitaker concluded, "In general, we're not looking to embarrass our people. If we can handle these situations without doing that, we will."
In mid-July, shortly before her most recent appearance on CNN, Loesch began using her radio show to promote conspiratorial claims that State Department official Huma Abedin has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. At the same time, CNN co-workers Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper were dismissing such charges as "questionable," "outrageous," and "McCarthy-like." Blitzer said that Rep. Michele Bachmann, who had pressed the issue, "does owe Huma -- who I know well -- an apology."
An August 21 CNN.com article describes Loesch as a "conservative radio host," but does not mention her role as a CNN contributor. The same day, CNN's Piers Morgan referenced Loesch on his program without saying that she works for the network.