Today we are witness to a stark contrast in how two networks deal with conflicts of interest. One does it the right way. The other buries its head in the sand all in the name of ratings.
Yesterday, FNC put its contributor deal with Newt Gingrich on ice. The Newt-ster has been in the news again as a possible VP pick for Trump and FNC has been pretty ruthless in keeping conflicted contributors off its payroll. Just a couple days earlier the network did the same thing to Evan Bayh.
This is how it should be done. You get the whiff of a conflict of interest, you cut financial ties. You need to preserve your (real or perceived) image as an honest broker.
And then there’s CNN…
CNN hired Corey Lewandowski as a political commentator; CNN’s version of FNC’s contributor role. And if you believe the rumors it’s paying him 500 large for it.
Now, you can ask the obvious question that CNN apparently didn’t bother to ask itself: Is the network going to get anything of value out of him? Well so far the answer has been no. He’s been in full campaign mode even though he’s no longer campaign manager.
Worse, Lewandowski ducked questions about whether he signed either a confidentiality agreement or a non-disparagement agreement. What that means is even if Lewandowski disagreed with something Trump did or said…if he thought Trump was being a complete jerk…he could be legally restricted from saying so.
Tell me again, what CNN is getting for their 500 large with this guy?
The network has tried its best to ignore the whole controversy. It doesn’t want to answer the obvious questions regarding Lewandowski’s utility in this role. It would prefer if people would just move on.
Well, moving on just got more difficult.
Today, it was revealed that Lewandowski is collecting a severance from Trump. So that means while he’s on CNN, and being paid by CNN to talk about Trump, he’s getting paid by Trump.
But don’t tell that to CNN. Oh no. Corey’s not getting paid by Trump at all.
CNN source says @CLewandowski_ isn’t being “paid” by Trump camp while on CNN. He IS receiving severance, which will be disclosed on air.
Oh…well that makes it okay then, huh?
He’s getting paid CNN. Deal with it. Whether you want to call it severance or getting paid, the result is the same…
Lewandowski has a financial incentive NOT to say or do anything to ruffle Trump.
That is a classic conflict of interest.
CNN must drop Lewandowski. He’s poison for the network’s reputation as an honest news broker.
Of course CNN won’t do that because Jeff Zucker runs CNN and Jeff Zucker loves controversy. Jeff Zucker loves ratings even more than controversy. What Jeff Zucker also loves is damaging and diluting his network’s news brand which he has done repeatedly since he took over. Plus you have to figure Jeff Zucker is the one who brought him on board so if CNN were to drop him, that would reflect badly on himself.
So Lewandowski stays and CNN continues to look less and less reputable compared to FNC every day.
p.s. I would have included MSNBC with FNC except this happened earlier in the week. That interview never should have been allowed to air with Nicolle Wallace, who even admitted to her conflict of interest, conducting it. CNN splits hairs with “severance” and “paid”…MSNBC split them with “interview” and “conversation”.