CNN promises to stop hiring Trump staffers: report

Although it is standard practice for news networks to hire ex-administration staffers, CNN won't do so for Trump

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published November 2, 2018 2:31PM (EDT)


Traditionally, major news networks hire outgoing members of a presidential administration as on-air talent once they leave office. If a new report is correct, however, President Donald Trump's regular diatribes against CNN may have soured the station's president against alumni from that administration.

"If they do any hiring after the midterms, it's more likely to be members of Congress, senators and governors who lost their races, plus outgoing GOP members," a person close to CNN told Politico. CNN president Jeff Zucker has apparently told other insiders at the network that he believes Trump staffers have been involved in spreading lies or logically tenuous talking points and, as a result, is not interested in hiring them, according to four people familiar with conversations that address his thinking.

The one possible exception to this rule are Trump administration officials who have struck a balance between maintaining their perceived independence from the president while managing to not alienate him —  a category that applies pretty much exclusively to Trump's outgoing United Nations ambassador, Nikki Haley.

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski appeared as a talking head on the network for a period of time after being ousted from the 2016 presidential campaign, and former White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short and a former communications senior staffer named Jason Miller worked for the network for a period of time as well.

Ironically, when Lewandowski was hired by CNN, Zucker defended the decision by arguing that "I think it's really important to have voices on CNN who are supportive of the Republican nominee. It's hard to find a lot of those. Our competitors tried to hire him too."

When Trump won the 2016 election in a historic upset, Lewandowski offered his perspective on the matter.

"I don't think in January of 2015, when I signed on to become Donald Trump's campaign manager to lay the foundation, anybody thought at that time Donald Trump was going to be elected President of the United States tonight," Lewandowski declared on Election Night." He then added, "That is what is going to happen. It's unequivocal, the numbers are there. He is going to be the President of the United States."

It is unclear how much of Zucker's thinking has also been influenced by the recent physical threats to CNN employees. Despite multiple bombs being sent to various CNN offices throughout the country — presumably by Cesar Sayoc, a bomber who also sent explosive packages to former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep. Maxine Waters of California, Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, and billionaire philanthropists George Soros and Tom Steyer — the president has not scaled back his inflammatory rhetoric against the network.

"There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame..." Trump tweeted on Monday.

He added, "....of Anger and Outrage and we will then be able to bring all sides together in Peace and Harmony. Fake News Must End!"

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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