Employees and contributors woke up Thursday morning very upset to learn that they work at CNN, the network that helped in the great cause of giving candidate Donald Trump billions of dollars in unearned media on his way to steamrolling the 2016 GOP primaries and eventually capturing the presidency.
Media-at-large, and by that I mean CNN, then spent the better part of four years atoning for their failed attempt to engineer an election into a coronation for Hillary Clinton. Now, in a morning hangover rage fest over Donald Trump’s appearance at a CNN town hall (which was really more of a corporate promo for new 9 p.m. host Kaitlan Collins than it was anything to do with Trump or Republican voters), an entire new crop of contributors is very upset to learn who signs their paycheck.
New CNN CEO Chris Licht clearly sees a new young star in Collins, something CNN has been bereft of in recent years. And what better way to usher in CNN’s newest star than with CNN’s biggest ratings-getter of the past decade? When you view CNN’s decision to host Trump through this lens, the network’s business plan from the past and future comes into focus.
Still, that did not stop regular CNN contributors, who have been happy to take money from Jeff Zucker’s former operation, from banging the drum loudly against their company. Former Capitol Police officer and January 6 survivor Michael Fanone scorched his new employer in an opinion piece for Rolling Stone for the very idea of hosting the former president. Former congressman Adam Kinzinger, who lost his seat to redistricting by Democrats, blasted CNN on Twitter several times Wednesday night. Staffers were reportedly irate the morning after at their own network, and Brian Stelter’s replacement ombudsman Oliver Darcy used his now mostly forgotten about newsletter to express frustration.
The question I guess I have for all of them is: who did they think they were working for? Darcy, who happily accepted a job from Jeff Zucker, the man responsible for resurrecting and promoting Donald Trump for several years, is particularly head-scratching.
CNN’s employees somehow think that they are freedom and truth warriors fighting against the racist tendencies of the Republican Party and Donald Trump. If they haven’t yet learned that their television network is as dependent on Donald Trump as he is on them, then perhaps they should resign in protest immediately, lest the rest of us start to suspect that their outrage is manufactured. The Lincoln Project’s resident Confederate Rick Wilson offers the epitome of such performance art: he took to Twitter on Wednesday night as well to express how outraged he is at how much more money he stands to make should CNN continue with these antics.
The town hall was not about Trump; it wasn’t even about Republican voters. If it were about Republican voters, then topics concerning them would have been approached. Instead, CNN brought up the issues that are important to CNN: January 6, the 2020 election, E. Jean Carroll and Alvin Bragg. Those are surely the things that Collins will continue to push on her sparkling new show. Therefore, she was happy to have Trump’s participation, who, as always, was willing to go along with it. Remember all the righteous outrage the next time Adam Kinzinger and Michael Fanone appear on Collins’s new show and throughout the election as CNN continues to rev up the money machine, counting on another Trump nomination.