President Donald Trump last week continued his feud with CNN by excluding the network from his annual lunch with network anchors. Nevertheless, two CNN personalities have recently been serving as surrogates for his campaign.
The Trump campaign has been staging events, including rallies with the president, alongside the Democratic primaries. CNN commentator David Urban was a part of the campaign's Iowa efforts while fellow CNN commentator Sean Duffy is now helping in New Hampshire. Urban previously served as a senior adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign while Duffy resigned from Congress last year.
Trump and his campaign have tirelessly attacked CNN as “fake news” while also using the network as a revolving door for advisers. Former CNN commentators who are now part of the Trump campaign include national press secretary Kayleigh McEnany; senior adviser Corey Lewandowski (who also served Trump campaign manager in 2016); campaign surrogate Matthew Whitaker; Black Voices for Trump advisory board member Paris Dennard; and Pro-Life Voices for Trump advisory board member Ed Martin. Steve Cortes, who recently parted ways with CNN, is now working for America First Action, a super PAC whose efforts have been endorsed by the Trump campaign.
As the Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona reported, CNN has defended its employment of Urban while he works for the Trump campaign, saying Urban “is not paid by the campaign.” Still, both Urban and Duffy undoubtably financially benefit from their ties to the Trump campaign (and CNN) through their jobs at lobbying firms. Urban is the president of American Continental Group and lobbies the Trump administration. And Duffy is a senior counsel at BGR Group and also lobbies the Trump administration.
Relatedly, Urban has repeatedly used his CNN position to push for the interests of his lobbying clients without any disclosure about his financial entanglements. Duffy can potentially do the same for his own clients; he recently registered to lobby for Gramercy Funds Management and Polaris Industries and his firm lobbies for dozens of other clients.
Fox News commentators David Bossie, Thomas Homan, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders also campaigned for Trump in Iowa despite Fox’s purported policy against “talent” participating in campaign events. Bossie is campaigning for Trump in New Hampshire and received a shoutout from Trump at a rally last night.