When CNN hired Corey Lewandowski, a man fresh off his post as Trump campaign manager, to be a political commentator during this same ongoing election cycle, there was a lot of public criticism of that decision. And then it was revealed that Lewandowski was still providing advice to the Trump campaign. And then it was revealed that Lewandowski was still being paid by the Trump campaign. And through all of that, CNN, and Jeff Zucker, stood by their man, campaign non-disclosure agreement and all. What would it take? Many wondered.
The answer is it would take sharing debate questions with your candidate, only it wasn’t Lewandowski who is alleged to have done that, but now former contributor Donna Brazile, who as it was discovered from the Wikileaks emails hack, appears to have emailed a debate and town hall question in two separate instances to the Clinton campaign ahead of those events.
And Zucker is really unhappy about it, apparently. As Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone reports, a source told him that during a staff meeting, Zucker called Brazile’s actions “unethical” and “disgusting.”
And it was unethical, but it has also prompted some to ask, why one and not the other?
The better question is why either of them? Why any of them? The “them” being the entire class of political operatives from other side of the political aisle that populate the cable networks, creating an endless back and forth of campaign talking points.
The system by which channels pay active partisans as pundits requires jarring dissonance at best, opens door to corruption. Time to rethink.
— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) November 1, 2016
Agree. A ridiculous system https://t.co/P0oD3xndIh
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) November 1, 2016
As a pundit, I can say it: Pundits are overrated in journalism, reporters underrated. Pundits stir the pot, reporters add to it. https://t.co/aKQ9K5qeAH
— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) October 31, 2016
— Steve Bien-Aime (@Steve_BienAime) October 31, 2016
Cable news panels of partisan pundits are never a value add.
— Rebecca Klein (@rklein90) October 28, 2016
Brian Stelter, writing in the Reliable Sources newsletter, saw it a bit differently. “Commentators like Brazile add a lot to TV newscasts and talk shows,” he wrote. “But here’s the problem as I see it: When Brazile met a debate attendee, and learned about a possible debate question, was her loyalty to CNN? To the DNC? To her friends on the Clinton campaign?”
Writing in his Post blog, Erik Wemple put it this way: “Do you really need, like, eight people on a politics panel? And even if you do, don’t you have enough talent among the nearly 4,000 ‘news professionals’ advertised on your website to fill those panels, without relying on political hacks?”
And in Jack Shafer‘s piece in Politico yesterday, we found an answer, indirectly to Wemple’s question:
The whole show-business concept that places paid partisan yakkers on television is corrupt and venal and deserves burial in a shallow grave. The yakkers populate the news shows not because they add much in the way of substance to our political knowledge, but because they’re a cheap form of on-air talent for television’s 24/7 programming needs, and television has been over-relying on them for a long time.
What do you think? Vote below.