CBS News Hires Ex-Trump Official Mick Mulvaney, Wins Neither Hearts Nor Minds

Mick Mulvaney is the latest ex-Trump official to reap the benefits of news outlets’ willingness to whitewash the past, and the fallout from his first day on the job has been swift. CBS News announced Tuesday it had hired the former director of the Office of Management and Budget and Donald Trump‘s former acting White House chief of staff as a paid contributor. Mulvaney debuted his analysis in a “breakdown” of President Joe Biden‘s proposal to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans; anchor Anne-Marie Green billed him as “the guy to ask about this,” without making much mention of his political background. Mulvaney is certainly not the first ex-Trump official to secure a TV news gig after leaving the administration, but his hiring has reignited a debate over mainstream media outlets’ decisions to give these often discredited figures another platform.

Media Matters’ Matt Gertz called CBS ‘hiring decision “an embarrassment,” and a particularly avoidable one. “What does Mulvaney bring to the table for CBS News that it would not get from a different right-wing multimillionaire who wants to keep taxes low?” MSNBC Columnist Hayes Brown said the CBS newsroom bosses must have “suffered a mass amnesia event” to hire the guy. “Exposing the American people to such pathological liars and despots is an act of journalistic malpractice,” former GOP spokesperson turned Democratic adviser Kurt Bardella wrote in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times about Mulvaney’s new job. “It’s as if the power-that-be at the network learned nothing from a tumultuous presidency that culminated with insurrectionists attacking the US Capitol.”

The backlash is rooted in a litany of stains on Mulvaney’s track record that hangs over whatever analysis or expertise CBS is now paying him to provide. Mulvaney as OMB director carried out Trump’s order to withhold nearly $ 400 million in military aid to Ukraine around the same time the president was pressuring the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyyto investigate his then-presidential opponent, Joe Bidenand his son, Hunter Biden. Mulvaney by and large admitted to this quid pro quo during a press briefing before telling the media to “get over it.” (Hours later, he reversed course.) The scheme was at the core of Trump’s first impeachment inquiry, which the president ordered Mulvaney, among others within his circle, not to cooperate with. Mulvaney heeded the call. “What allowed Trumpism to rise in the first place was the media’s misguided notion that ‘both sides’ deserve equal airing and footing even when one side is flagrantly violating the law and lying,” Bardella wrote in reaction to CBS’ hiring on Tuesday. “Let’s be clear: Democracy does not die in darkness, it dies because of stuff like this.”

Mulvaney was also involved in the early days of the administration’s pandemic response. In February 2020, a day before the first coronavirus death was reported in the United States, he claimed COVID-19 was being overhyped by the media because “they think this is going to be what brings down the president” and that we know how to handle this. ” Mulvaney also took aim at the media in a November 2020 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that insisted Trump would “concede gracefully” if he lost the election.

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Mulvaney is ultimately a footnote in the long list of former Trump cronies whom mainstream news outlets have been willing to give a platform to. CNN hired Corey Lewandowski, the pugilistic former Trump campaign manager, who was tapped as a political commentator for the network a mere three days after being fired from Trump’s campaign in June 2016. CNN executives talked up the first-hand experience and perspective that Lewandowski brought, while viewers and even CNN staffers questioned the value of having someone bound by a Trump non-disclosure agreement that kept him from criticizing Trump and who received severance payments from the campaign. He resigned from CNN a few months later, just as it was reported that he was in consideration for a role in Trump’s White House.

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