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CNN Banned Roger Stone After He Lashed Out At Network Personalities
CNN hired Corey Lewandowski despite the former Trump campaign manager reportedly “pushing a CNN reporter” and making “sexually suggestive and at times vulgar comments to -- and about -- female journalists.” CNN’s actions are at odds with how it handled Roger Stone: the network banned the Trump ally as a guest in February after he wrote a series of incendiary tweets attacking network personalities.
Stone is a longtime friend and former employee of Trump. He had become a favorite guest on the network to provide a pro-Trump point of view (unlike Lewandowski, Stone was not on CNN’s payroll). Media Matters noted at the time that Stone had attacked CNN political commentator Ana Navarro and former CNN analyst Roland Martin on Twitter with racist and sexist slurs. The network subsequently stated that Stone would no longer appear on its airwaves.
Media Matters at the time praised CNN for correctly handling Stone by removing him from its airwaves. But CNN has reversed course in how it handles on-air Trump supporters with histories of wretched behavior toward journalists by hiring Lewandowski as a paid contributor.
BuzzFeed reported in March that Lewandowski made “unwanted romantic advances” and “sexual comments about female journalists.” The outlet also reported that he was “accused of pushing a CNN reporter who tried to ask the candidate a question.” In November, CNN reporter Noah Gray tweeted video of Lewandowski threatening to pull his press credentials if he didn't return to the media "pen" during a campaign event.
Reporters told Politico in March “that Lewandowski has made sexually suggestive and at times vulgar comments to -- and about -- female journalists who have covered Trump’s presidential bid. One reporter who was on the receiving end of such comments described them as ‘completely inappropriate in a professional setting.’”
Due to this behavior, Lewandowski’s hiring has drawn harsh criticism from journalists across the political spectrum, including at CNN. Politico reported yesterday that “Some CNN staffers were privately grumbling on Thursday about Lewandowski's hiring, especially in light of how he has treated journalists. Lewandowski personally placed a POLITICO reporter on the campaign's ‘blacklist’ and earlier this year, he was charged with misdemeanor battery for forcibly grabbing reporter Michelle Fields as she tried to ask Trump a question following an event in March (prosecutors ultimately declined to pursue the case).”
The Daily Beast similarly reported that one “insider, speaking on condition of anonymity, described CNN staffers as ‘furious with [CNN head] Jeff [Zucker]’ for hiring Lewandowski.” Another insider “described some CNN staffers” as “simply resigned to the new hire.”
Michelle Fields said: “My heart goes out to all his new female coworkers who will have to deal with him daily. I imagine CNN HR will be busy this year.”
Stone and Lewandowski are nemeses despite their support for Trump. Stone said today on The Alex Jones Show that Trump was correct to fire Lewandowski and that CNN is “the most anti-Trump” network.
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Right-wing media are reacting to the U.K. referendum to leave the European Union -- commonly referred to as Brexit -- by labeling the result a “very, very ominous sign for Democrats in the United States,” saying Donald Trump “looked like a genius” for saying the U.K. should leave the European Union, and claiming that “Hillary [Clinton] lost and Trump won.” Meanwhile, mainstream media warn of economic ramifications from the vote.
The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple highlighted that, among the various ethical concerns with CNN’s hiring of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, an ongoing defamation lawsuit involving Trump and Lewandowski could pose “another conflict of interest” for CNN’s new hire. Wemple wrote that Lewandowski’s hiring has “reduced” CNN to a “pitiful reality” in which they must warn viewers “that everything they’re about to hear is fatally compromised.”
On June 23, CNN hired Lewandowski as a “salaried” political commentator days after he had been fired as Trump’s campaign manager. CNN employees and other reporters immediately raised concerns both over potential ethical problems associated with Lewandowski’s hiring and the way Lewandowski has aggressively handled the press in the past.
Wemple noted possible conflicts of interest in a June 24 Washington Post article writing that an ongoing defamation suit against Trump and Lewandowski by a Republican consultant could be another “possible [source] of taint” for CNN’s arrangement. Wemple highlighted questions which have arisen about whether Trump is “footing the bill” for the both of them, noting how the “entanglement could inhibit Lewandowski’s umpirely duty” to provide analysis about Trump. Wemple added that this concern, among several others, is forcing other CNN employees interviewing Lewandowski “to gore an interviewee not to bring accountability to a campaign, but rather to properly warn CNN viewers that everything they’re about to hear is fatally compromised.” Wemple ultimately wrote that “Trump is dragging down a network’s standards before viewers’ very eyes”:
In his first appearance as a CNN contributor, former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski showed an unsurprising reverence for his ex-boss. Appearing last night with host Erin Burnett, Lewandowski was careful to refer to “Mr. Trump,” the proper honorific for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. He leveled no criticisms of the candidate. And he said this, too: “I am fully committed in my private time with my family and my friends and telling everybody that I know that Donald Trump is the only person that is going to save this country for my children and hopefully their children someday.”
The hiring of Lewandowski, accordingly, has reduced CNN to this pitiful reality: A true journalist like Burnett is forced to gore an interviewee not to bring accountability to a campaign, but rather to properly warn CNN viewers that everything they’re about to hear is fatally compromised. Trump is dragging down a network’s standards before viewers’ very eyes.
Yet there are other possible sources of taint for Lewandowski and his former boss. These two fellows worked together on a presidential campaign for a year, gathering some enemies along the way. One of them is Cheri Jacobus, a Republican consultant and PR adviser.
A defamation suit filed by Jacobus in New York County claims that those representations are false. It was the Trump camp, contends Jacobus’s complaint, that wooed her. She’s seeking $4 million in damages, just for starters.
Why mention this suit in the context of Lewandowski’s work for CNN? Because both he and Trump are named as defendants in the civil action. And according to court documents, a single law firm — LaRocca Hornik Rosen Greenberg & Blaha — is representing both of these men. Defending a defamation suit can cost significant sums. This blog has asked the Trump campaign as well as Lewandowski how the pay arrangements are proceeding. Is Trump footing the bill? Is Lewandowski? Have there been any changes in how the costs are handled since Lewandowski left the campaign?
Inquiries to Lewandowski, the Trump campaign, CNN and the law firm haven’t yet fetched a single response.
Little extrapolation is required to appreciate how this entanglement could inhibit Lewandowski’s umpirely duty to call balls and strikes on CNN. If Trump is paying for legal representation, for instance, why would Lewandowski call a bunch of balls and imperil the arrangement?
Those considerations stand apart, of course, from another set of considerations: That Lewandowski, with a big assist from his boss, slimed someone who dared to criticize Trump — and comes away with the reward of a CNN contributor gig.
CNN hired former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski despite his non-disclosure agreement with Trump and history of anti-press behavior. CNN hardly needs to pay for another pro-Trump voice given it already hosts a wide number of Trump supporters.
Washington Post media columnist Erik Wemple wondered “How many Trumpites does CNN need” when the network already has paid pro-Trump analysts Jeffrey Lord and Kayleigh McEnany. He added: "Must CNN have three paid commentators who do nothing but defend their candidate?"
A Media Matters look at CNN’s coverage shows that CNN has had no problem finding various Trump supporters during the presidential campaign. Here are over 30 examples:
Yesterday, CNN announced that it had hired Corey Lewandowski, the former campaign manager of Donald Trump’s campaign who was fired on Monday. Based on what we already know, the hire presents an ethical nightmare for CNN. But there are still many unanswered questions about the hire that could make things worse.
Lewandowski was known during his tenure with the campaign as Trump’s anti-press enforcer, drawing criticism for physical altercations with at least two reporters (one of whom worked for CNN) as well as reportedly making “unwanted romantic advances” and “sexually suggestive and at times vulgar comments to -- and about -- female journalists.”
Here’s what we know -- and don’t know -- about the Lewandowski hire:
Lewandowski has a non-disclosure agreement. During Lewandowski’s first appearance on CNN as a contributor, host Erin Burnett asked him if he had signed a nondisclosure agreement when he worked for the Trump campaign. He replied that he had.
He won’t say if he has a non-disparagement agreement. Burnett also noted that CNN had previously obtained a copy of the agreement that Trump campaign staff signed and that it included language stating that “during the term of your service and at all times thereafter, you hereby promise and agree not to demean or disparage publicly the company, Mr. Trump, any Trump company, any family member or any family member company.” Lewandowski refused to directly answer Burnett’s question as to whether his agreement included such a clause.
At least one outlet decided not to make an offer to Lewandowski over ethical concerns. CNN’s Brian Stelter reported that according to a source at MSNBC, the network’s executives had also met with Lewandowski to discuss hiring him as a contributor but ultimately decided against making an offer, “mainly due to ethical concerns.”
Journalists across the political spectrum hate this hire. After Politico broke the news, reporters and pundits from the left, right, and center condemned CNN for hiring Lewandowski. They highlighted his past history with journalists, particularly female ones, and questioned the ethics of the hire.
Including at CNN. Stelter reported that Lewandowski’s hiring was “highly controversial, even within the newsroom, in part because he has a reputation for being hostile toward journalists.” Politico’s Hadas Gold similarly reported, “Some CNN staffers were privately grumbling on Thursday about Lewandowski's hiring, especially in light of how he has treated journalists.” The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove reported that CNN staffers are “furious with” CNN president Jeff Zucker.
Media critics agree. In the words of former CNN bureau chief Frank Sesno, who now directs George Washington University’s media and public affairs department, “Lewandowski’s credibility becomes CNN’s credibility. If he peddles talking points and lies, then CNN will be peddling talking points and lies—to their own peril.”
Whether Lewandowski actually has a non-disparagement agreement. Can Lewandowski criticize Trump, his family members, or his company without violating the terms of his contract with the presumptive GOP nominee? Based on Lewandowski’s responses to questions about the campaign, it sure seems like the answer is no. But we don’t know for sure.
Whether CNN knows if Lewandowski has a non-disparagement agreement. It seems unbelievable that CNN’s executives would have hired Lewandowski without knowing the terms of his contract with the Trump campaign. But if they do know about it, they haven’t passed that information on to their reporters, who have been forced to ask Lewandowski about it and watch him evade the question.
Whether CNN’s executives considered Lewandowski’s behavior toward journalists, particularly women, in the hiring process. Does the network care that the person they have hired to do commentary reportedly physically pushed one of their own producers when he tried to ask Trump a question? Did they take into account his reported behavior with female journalists when they were considering hiring him? As Michelle Fields, who was manhandled by Lewandowski, put it, “My heart goes out to all his new female coworkers who will have to deal with him daily. I imagine CNN HR will be busy this year.”
What role Trump played in Lewandowski’s hiring. A Deadline source claims that “Trump was involved in brokering the deal” between Lewandowski and CNN. The network previously hired Jeffrey Lord as a contributor on Trump’s recommendation, Lord said.
Who is paying for the lawsuit against Trump and Lewandowski. GOP operative Cheri Jacobus is currently suing Trump and Lewandowski together in a $4 million defamation suit. If Trump is funding the defense in whole, that would represent a massive conflict of interest for Lewandowski.
What Lewandowski offers CNN that its current Trump backers don’t. CNN already employs two commentators who were hired specifically because they support Trump: Jeffrey Lord and Kayleigh McEnany. If Lewandowski can’t tell CNN’s audience what he saw while running Trump’s campaign, and can’t provide candid criticism of the candidate without violating a contract, what does he offer the network other than another voice pushing canned talking points?
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For months, media have repeatedly claimed that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was beginning to “pivot” to become a more “serious-sounding candidate” whenever he appeared to begin using “a more subdued tone” or briefly refrained from insulting his opponents.
The Washington Post columnist Eric Wemple posed four questions about CNN’s hire of recently fired Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski that emphasize the ethical and journalistic problems the network faces while paying him to provide political commentary.
Reporters widely criticized CNN’s hire of former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, highlighting Lewandowski’s alleged physical assault of former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields and prior reports of the Trump campaigns hostility to press under Lewandowski’s direction. CNN staff had previously slammed Lewandowski’s behavior as “inexcusable” and called for Trump to fire him from his position as campaign manager..
CNN reported earlier this week that Lewandowski was likely required to sign a non-disparagement agreement, which would prevent him from criticizing the campaign in any way. When asked about this by CNN’s Erin Burnett, Lewandowski dodged the question by stating “I’m a guy who calls balls and strikes.”
In his June 23 column, Wemple poses four questions that confront problems within CNN’s newest hire and ask “Is there any dignity or occupational pride at CNN?” From The Washington Post:
Now we know how to view Corey Lewandowski’s interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on Monday after he was fired from the campaign of Donald Trump: As an audition.
The setup raises a number of questions:
1) How many Trumpites does CNN need? When the political talk turns to Trump, as it always does, CNN has two political commentators to provide analysis: Jeffrey Lord, a former Reagan political director prone to ridiculous invocations of history to defend Trump, and Kayleigh McEnany, whose defenses of the candidate tend to be more conventional, though no more convincing.
2) How will CNN deal with a clear conflict of interest? In his interview with Bash, Lewandowski said something that should have given pause to CNN executives: He will still serve as the chair of the New Hampshire delegation to the Republican convention.
3) Openness? Though Lewandowski maintained his composure under questioning by Bash, he didn’t provide a great deal of insight.
4) Is there any dignity or occupational pride at CNN? Corey Lewandowski is the fellow who grabbed the arm of reporter Michelle Fields and later claimed that she was “delusional” for having claimed as much. Corey Lewandowski is the fellow who yelled at CNN staffer Noah Gray to stay in his media pen or suffer the consequences. Corey Lewandowski also allegedly pushed Gray in a separate dustup. Yet CNN says, Give that man a contract!
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Former Trump Campaign Manager And Newest CNN Contributor Blames Paul Manafort For Mysterious Payment To Company
In his first interview as a CNN contributor, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski attempted to defend Donald Trump against allegations of wrongdoing after the Washington Post reported that the campaign paid over $700,000 to a company called Left Hand Enterprises LLC.
The Washington Post reported on June 23 that a company called Left Hand Enterprises LLC, which was to print and send direct mail advertisements, “received two big payments” totaling “$730,637 over five days.” The first payment was made to the company just three days after it was formed, raising questions about what the company actually did for the campaign:
On April 25, a new company called Left Hand Enterprises LLC was formed in Delaware, listing its address at an incorporation service provider in Wilmington.
A few days later, the firm received two big payments totaling $503,133 from Donald Trump's presidential campaign to print and send a major shipment of direct mail. The campaign cut another $227,504 check to Left Hand Enterprises on May 2, new campaign finance filings show.
The rapid series of payments — $730,637 over five days — made Left Hand the 10th biggest vendor to the Trump campaign for the entire election cycle. But why it was hired, and what work it provided, remains a mystery even to some top Trump aides.
The first two payments to Left Hand were made on April 28 and April 29 — just days before the crucial May 3 Indiana primary, where Sen. Ted Cruz made his last unsuccessful stand against Trump. Since direct mail firms usually require payment before sending out a shipment, Left Hand would have had very little time to get leaflets to mailboxes in Indiana before voters went to the polls, according to people who work in the industry.
Lewandowski told CNN’s Erin Burnett that he was not responsible for the payments to Left Hand, but defended Trump claiming that “if there is anything that has not been appropriate, Mr. Trump will find it and fix it.” Burnett challenged Lewandowski asking whether it was he or Paul Manafort who managed the Left Hand payment. Lewandowski blamed Manafort:
Lewandowski’s defense of his former boss came during the same interview in which he declined to say whether or not he had signed a document that would forbid him from criticizing Trump. Since CNN announced the hiring of Lewandowski as a contributor, the network has received heavy criticism from media figures, including “grumbling” from CNN staffers.
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