By Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5W PR
Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump staffer who was replaced after a very public incident with a reporter from Breitbart News, reinvented his career as a pundit on CNN. Last week, after Trump won the presidency, Lewandowski resigned from his post at CNN, effective immediately.
While Lewandowski’s close relationship with Trump raised a few eyebrows from media critics, a populace that is growing accustomed to biased panels on “news” programs basically shrugged, thinking: “well, if this guy likes Trump, they will find someone who likes Clinton just as much.”
And that’s pretty much how it played out. Any time Lewandowski was brought on to contribute, the network set him up against a Clinton partisan, often Van Jones, tossed an issue in between them and watched the sparks fly. It’s a gimmick all the major cable networks use, but typically it’s with a person who was involved with a former president, not one who just got elected. Tough to pretend objectivity when viewers know what a pundit will say before they say it.
And things were not peachy inside the network either. Some CNN staffers harbored doubts about Lewandowski and others believed he should never have been hired in the first place. The complaints had some meat to them. Lewandowski had an NDA that forced him not to disparage Candidate Trump in public, even as a reporter relating accurate information. Plus, he was receiving severance cash from the campaign.
As entrepreneur Herman Friedman noted, “CNN President Jeff Zucker repeatedly defended the hiring, saying it promoted a diversity of ideas at the network, and the competition was looking to hire him too.”
Now it looks like Lewandowski may have been given another chance by his former boss. He met with someone at Trump Tower last week during a series of transition team meetings that also resulted in the demotion of Chris Christie and the promotion of Trump’s running mate Mike Pence to transition team chief.
If Lewandowski will have a role in the Trump transition team and, if so, what is unclear at the time. But the fact that he was only with CNN for a few months and may be right back where he started paints a fairly clear picture of where his loyalty was all along, and that gives the American public, already critical and suspicious of TV media, more ammunition for their argument that the 4th Estate is giving up on informing them.
This narrative pounded over and over again by Trump during the campaign, really caught on, and it’s not likely to disappear now that the issue has been decided. At some point, cable news will have to address the growing distrust if they wish to stay relevant going forward.