Plenty has already been written about CNN’s bizarre (and lucrative, for Lewandowski) hiring of former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. On the merits, the hiring doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense; Lewandowski is abrasive and twerpish and the opposite of insightful. His only real television skill appears to be the ability to repeat outrageous lies about Donald Trump with a straight face. Not to mention that CNN already has an astounding roster of Trump surrogates available for use to pad their ratings with hate-watchers.
But the journalistic ethics (try not to laugh) implicated in the hire are another huge question mark. What, exactly, is Corey Lewandowski supposed to bring to CNN viewers, in terms of information they do not have? How should the word of a man who was unceremoniously shown the door – as in, literally escorted out of Trump Tower by security guards – be taken, especially given that Lewandowski afterwards had nothing but fawning praise for Trump?
The biggest problem, though, is that Donald Trump is one of the most notorious believers in non-disclosure agreements and non-disparagement agreements in America, and he is also one of the most viciously litigious individuals in American history. Even CNN acknowledged earlier this week, during the course of covering Lewandowski’s termination, that he likely signed both.
This raises serious ethical concerns about what, exactly, Lewandowski will be able to say about his time with the Trump campaign and even more serious questions about the propriety of the media hiring a person who is contractually forbidden from saying anything that might even possibly cast Trump in a negative light. Even the obvious campaign surrogates CNN has had on the air have at times criticized “their” candidate when the time called for it – Amanda Carpenter blistered Ted Cruz’s messaging after his Nevada loss. Ana Navarro criticized Jeb Bush relatively frequently. Ditto S.E. Cupp and Marco Rubio. These people were all clear supporters of one candidate, but they were free to be honest about their thoughts regarding their own candidates’ weaknesses. Even Jeffrey Lord has occasionally criticized Trump (before blithely pointing out that when it comes to Trump, LOL nothing matters).
Corey Lewandowski (probably) cannot do that. How is it even possibly ethical or fair to the viewers of CNN to put a man on TV who isn’t even theoretically free to speak his mind honestly?
I get that everything associated with Trump is at least theoretically good for ratings. But CNN is also (at least theoretically) a news organization, not just a ratings machine. And for that reason, bringing Lewandowski is a terrible, terrible idea.