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Corey Lewandowski

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  • Wash. Post’s Wemple Highlights Yet Another Conflict Of Interest In CNN’s Hiring Of Trump’s Former Campaign Manager

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    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 Hosts Countless Pro-Trump Guests -- Why Does It Need Corey Lewandowski?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    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:

  • What We Do And Don't Know About CNN's Corey Lewandowski Ethics Nightmare

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Corey Lewandowski

    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:

    We know:

    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.”

    We don’t know:

    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?

  • Wash. Post Columnist Has Four Questions For CNN Following Hiring Of Former Trump Campaign Manager

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    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!
     

  • CNN’s Corey Lewandowski Struggles To Defend Trump From Newest Financial Report Irregularities

    Former Trump Campaign Manager And Newest CNN Contributor Blames Paul Manafort For Mysterious Payment To Company

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    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.

  • CNN Staff On New Hire Lewandowski: "Inexcusable" And "Unprofessional" Behavior, Repeatedly “Faced Accusations Of Being Overly Aggressive”

    ››› ›››

    CNN has hired former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski despite his history of allegedly manhandling a female reporter, reportedly making “unwanted romantic advances” and “sexual comments about female journalists,” and reportedly “pushing a CNN reporter.” CNN’s own staff previously criticized Lewandowski, calling his behavior "inexcusable" and "unprofessional" and noting he has “faced accusations of being overly aggressive.” Two CNN contributors also signed a letter calling for Trump to fire Lewandowski.

  • Reporters Savage CNN For Hiring Former Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Media figures across the political spectrum are ripping CNN after the network hired former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to be a political commentator on the network.

    CNN’s new employee allegedly manhandled a reporter, and news outlets have reported he’s made “unwanted romantic advances” and “sexual comments about female journalists.” He was also “accused of pushing a CNN reporter.”

    Here’s what some media figures are saying about the hire:

  • CNN Reported This Week That New Hire Lewandowski Likely Signed A Non-Disparagement Agreement With Trump

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Corey Lewandowski, who was fired on Monday from his position as campaign manager for Donald Trump, has been hired by CNN. The network reported earlier this week that Lewandowski likely signed a nondisclosure agreement that prevents him from disparaging the campaign in any way, throwing into question the type of commentary he will be paid to offer as a political commentator. 

    After Lewandowski gave an interview with CNN's Dana Bash about his exit from the campaign in which he lauded Trump, the network's senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, reported, "Anyone who works for the Trump campaign signs a nondisclosure agreement, so he cannot disparage or anything like that at all, not that he might be inclined to. I was struck during his interview with Dana how positive he was."

    Bash told Lewandowski during the interview in question that "somebody tuning in to watch this might be thinking that they're on another planet because you're making it seem like everything was really great, and I get that that's your instinct because you've been so loyal to him, but it just doesn't make sense in a logical way."

  • CNN Reportedly Hiring Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s Former Anti-Press Enforcer

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Politico is reporting that CNN is hiring former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Lewandowski, who was fired from the campaign earlier this week, allegedly manhandled a reporter, and news outlets have reported he’s made “unwanted romantic advances” and “sexually suggestive and at times vulgar comments to -- and about -- female journalists.” He was also “accused of pushing a CNN reporter.”

    Politico wrote that “Lewandowski is joining CNN as a political commentator, according to a source familiar with the arrangement. It's a salaried position and will make Lewandowski exclusive to CNN, effective immediately.”

    Lewandowski allegedly manhandled reporter Michelle Fields during a March campaign event in Florida that was caught on video. Police charged him with a single count of misdemeanor battery, and the Palm Beach County state attorney subsequently decided not to prosecute. The attorney said: “While the evidence in this case is legally sufficient for the police to charge Mr. Lewandowski, it is not strong enough to meet the burden of a reasonable likelihood of a conviction.”

    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”:

    As Donald Trump faces questions about his campaign manager’s physical altercation with a protester over the weekend, BuzzFeed News has learned new details about the hard-charging operative’s behavior that raise questions about his judgment and the environment inside the Trump campaign.

    In recent interviews with more than half a dozen sources who have worked with Trump’s top aide, Corey Lewandowski, the strategist was accused of pushing a CNN reporter who tried to ask the candidate a question; physically confronting an aide for a rival campaign in a post-debate spin room; publicly shouting threats over the phone at a restaurant; making sexual comments about female journalists; and calling up women in the campaign press corps late at night to make unwanted romantic advances.

    Asked Monday for comment on these allegations, Lewandowski emailed, “Your story is factually inaccurate.” When BuzzFeed news asked him to clarify which portions of the story he was challenging, he wrote, “Be sure before you accuse me of something it’s accurate. And, in these instances you are wrong.”

    BuzzFeed added of the CNN incident:

    At a press conference earlier this month in West Palm Beach, Florida, Lewandowski physically pushed CNN reporter Noah Gray away from Trump as he tried to ask the candidate a question, according to a source with close knowledge of the incident.

    It was not the first time the campaign manager had gotten in Gray’s face to prevent him from reporting. In November, when the reporter attempted to film protesters who were disrupting a Trump rally, Lewandowski threatened to pull his credentials unless he went back inside the pen the campaign uses to corral journalists. He was also heard warning the press secretary that if Gray didn’t obey him he would be “fucking blacklisted.” The CNN reporter’s tweets about the incident riled Lewandowski and briefly inflamed tensions between the campaign and the traveling press corps, reporters told BuzzFeed News.

    A spokesperson for CNN did not respond to a request for comment.

    In November, Gray tweeted video of Lewandowski threatening to pull his press credentials if he didn't return to the media "pen" during a campaign event:

    Politico similarly reported that “reporters told POLITICO 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.’”

    *This post has been updated.

  • Wall Street Journal Editorial Board: Trump “Needs More Than A New Campaign Manager To Save His Candidacy” 
     

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Wall Street Journal editorial board dismissed presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s decision to fire his campaign manager, pointing out that “the shake-up will only make a difference if Mr. Trump recognizes how badly he is harming his own prospects.”

    Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski amid “increasing concerns from allies and donors, as well as [Trump’s] children, about the next phase of the campaign.”  Lewandowski was an original member of the Trump campaign and took center stage in the controversy following former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields’ accusation that he assaulted her. Trump initially stood by his manager, despite growing concerns within the Republican party over the campaign style.

    Numerous right-wing media figures attempted to spin the campaign shake up as a “good pivot” for Trump,  but the Journal’s June 20 editorial wrote that Lewandowski’s departure “will only make a difference if Mr. Trump recognizes how badly he is harming his own prospects.” If he doesn’t, the board wrote, “don’t be surprised if unbinding the GOP delegates to choose another nominee at the July convention starts to seem like an urgent and attractive option to a growing number of Republicans.”  From the June 20 editorial:

    Donald Trump seems to be trying to pack as many self-created crises as he can into the 20 weeks until Election Day, and a new installment arrived Monday as he suddenly fired his campaign manager. Campaigns ultimately reflect the candidate and his leadership, or lack thereof, and the shake-up will only make a difference if Mr. Trump recognizes how badly he is harming his own prospects.

    Perhaps the termination of Corey Lewandowski, heretofore Mr. Trump’s most loyal aide who was present at the campaign’s creation, is his concession that his operation is dysfunctional. He allowed competing power centers to emerge, with Mr. Lewandowski anchoring one camp and the veteran Beltway operative Paul Manafort the other.

    [...]

    Mr. Manafort reportedly has been trying to professionalize the campaign. But it isn’t an optimistic signal that Mr. Trump fired Mr. Lewandowski only after a family intervention that included Mr. Trump’s son, his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

    Mr. Trump still has time to reverse his fortunes, even if the hour is late. If he wants to run a national campaign, he’ll allow Mr. Manafort to fill out his shoestring apparatus and put together a coherent hierarchy with delegated responsibilities and clear lines of accountability.

    But the hard reality is that the problems with the Trump campaign aren’t Mr. Lewandowski’s fault. They are Donald J. Trump’s. If he wants to avoid a historic loss like 1984 or 1972 that costs the GOP its House and Senate majorities, he’ll take more instruction from political professionals.

    If he doesn’t, don’t be surprised if unbinding the GOP delegates to choose another nominee at the July convention starts to seem like an urgent and attractive option to a growing number of Republicans.