CNN’s decision to add former Trump administration spokesperson Alyssa Farah to its roster of on-air talent demonstrates just how far the network is willing to deviate from its principles in pursuit of commentators who might appeal to the Republican Party’s increasingly right-wing base.
On December 12, Politico Playbook was first to report on CNN’s decision to formally hire Farah as a political commentator. (The news came the same day that longtime Fox News anchor Chris Wallace announced his plans to join CNN.)
Farah previously held several press and communications roles in the Trump administration, most recently serving as the White House’s director of strategic communications. According to a Washington Post report on her resignation, Farah left the administration to pursue a career in consulting, but it seems she was actually auditioning for a role in the cable news industry.
According to Media Matters' internal guest database, Farah has appeared on weekday news programming on CNN (9 times) and Fox News (21) repeatedly since leaving the Trump administration last December. She has appeared on CNN exclusively since August. During those appearances, she has worked to sand down the edges of her own involvement in spreading lies about the 2020 presidential election.
Farah’s tenure at the White House was marked by deception and failure. She was a key figure on the team that mismanaged the White House’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and she was part of Donald Trump’s misinformation campaign ahead of the presidential election. Farah attacked the presidential debate commission for “trying to weigh the scales” to advantage Joe Biden after Trump’s positive COVID-19 test forced the cancellation of in-person debates, and she defended Trump after he asked the Proud Boys militia to “stand back and stand by” amid threats of violence ahead of the election. (Members of the group were later involved in the January 6 insurrection.) On Election Day, Farah claimed election officials in Pennsylvania were “putting their thumb on the scale” to advantage Biden.
Even after resigning from the administration, Farah continued running interference for Trump. She defended his attempt to interfere with the election results in Georgia, and on CNN she pushed back against Trump’s historic second impeachment, which she called a “charade,” while arguing that Trump should resign instead.
The daughter of right-wing conspiracy theorist and WorldNetDaily founder Joseph Farah, Alyssa Farah got her start as a so-called "special Washington correspondent" for her father's notorious and discredited website. Her thin publication history for WorldNetDaily was standard fare for the fringe outlet, echoing right-wing talking points to attack Democratic officials and the mainstream media while promoting anti-vaccine conspiracy theories.
Farah leapt from the toxic fringe of the media ecosystem directly into the Republican mainstream with roles as a communications director for then-Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and for the right-wing Freedom Caucus, and later as press secretary for then-Vice President Mike Pence. After joining the Trump administration, Farah cycled through the Department of Defense before ending up in a prominent White House role.
Alyssa Farah is not a journalist; she’s a professional partisan apparatchik. She did her best to rehabilitate her image after fleeing the failed Trump administration, but she cannot be considered a reliable source for information given her lengthy history of lies and distortions. If CNN’s mission “to inform, engage and empower the world” is to be believed, what does CNN have to gain from her commentary and analysis?