CNN hired Sean Duffy, who immediately pushed conspiracy theories that CNN had already debunked

CNN hired Sean Duffy, who immediately pushed conspiracy theories that CNN had already debunked

CNN’s new hire, former Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), has used his first two appearances on the network to push a conspiracy theory that has already been widely debunked -- including by CNN’s own reporting.

The debunked Crowdstrike conspiracy theory is at the center of the impeachment inquiry into whether President Donald Trump improperly withheld congressionally approved military aid from Ukraine. The theory posits that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of the Democrats -- conveniently exonerating Russia’s efforts to aid Trump -- and that a Ukrainian-owned company tried to cover the tracks and took the Democratic National Committee’s computer server that was hacked to Ukraine. 

In reality, the FBI and Congress have investigated the 2016 election and found that Russia meddled extensively to push for Trump’s win. The company at the center of the conspiracy theory -- CrowdStrike -- is headquartered in the United States, not Ukraine. And there was never a physical DNC server that could’ve been taken to Ukraine.

But Trump still mentioned this theory during his now-infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying, “I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike... I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it." Thomas Bossert, Trump’s first homeland security adviser, said on September 29 that the theory “has no validity” and that he had warned Trump that he was chasing after a debunked conspiracy theory. 

Duffy has used his first two appearances on CNN to argue that Trump was right to pressure Ukraine to look into the conspiracy theory, even though it “may be” debunked. In both instances, Duffy received strong pushback, begging the question why CNN would hire a bad-faith conspiracy theorist who undermines CNN’s own reporting and needs to be fact-checked on-air.

CNN's Chris Cillizza even responded to Duffy directly.

Video file

Citation From the October 21 edition of CNN's New Day

ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-ANCHOR): What about what Mick Mulvaney said about quid pro quo: “Yeah, get used to it.” Did you find that any of those bother you?

SEAN DUFFY (CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR): So, when you're talking about Mulvaney, we spent -- and you and I talked about this a lot -- we spent two years talking about a Russia -- you know, collusion, you know, Russia influence in our 2016 election. What Mick Mulvaney was talking about was actually trying to find the server that was the DNC server which was at the heart of the Russia investigation.

CAMEROTA: But that's a conspiracy theory. That's a conspiracy theory.

DUFFY: No, but wait, hold on a second. Where it's at might be -- is it in the Ukraine or somewhere else? That might be a conspiracy. But the fact that Mick Mulvaney is talking about advancing that investigation, the 2016 Russia investigation, we should applaud that.

CAMEROTA: In exchange for military assistance?

DUFFY: Listen, I think we do make sure that people cooperate with us all the time for our assistance.

CAMEROTA: That's a quid pro quo.

DUFFY: Mick Mulvaney did not do a good job at the press conference.

CAMEROTA: Right, but you're saying the same thing. You're saying this is what we do.

DUFFY: We do. So, Joe Biden said I'm going to hold up a billion dollars of funding unless you fire the prosecutor -- no, hold on.

CAMEROTA: That's real foreign policy, that's not about his political opponent.

DUFFY: It's about his son and enriching his son, which is even worse. And this is not about -- this is not about politics. If you would say, “I'm going to hold up money unless you investigate my political opponent,” that's one thing.

CAMEROTA: That's what they were saying.

DUFFY: No they weren't. They were saying, give us the server so we can give it to the FBI because the FBI never got the server, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Ukraine doesn't have the server, Sean.

DUFFY: They might not. Yeah, so they might be wrong on that. They might be wrong on whether Ukraine has the server --

CAMEROTA: You're going to hold up military assistance because of that conspiracy theory?

DUFFY: But are you going to hold up a billion dollars of loans unless you fire the one prosecutor who's investigating my son, which what is Joe Biden did. And no one had a problem with that.

CAMEROTA: The rest of the world felt that that prosecutor was corrupt and he wasn't doing enough investigating.

DUFFY: If you're saying -- we have corruption in Ukraine, which we do, and we're going to say there's 50 people we have to fire, or 25 -- there's only one person that Joe Biden had fired in Ukraine, and it was the guy that was going after his son.

CAMEROTA: Not as aggressively enough, actually.