Paris is Burning: CNN Deserves Flak for Hiring Pro-Trump Hack

Forrest Gump was right: Stupid is as stupid does.

CNN said Wednesday evening that Paris Dennard has been suspended from his commentary role, pending an examination of the allegations against him in a Wednesday Washington Post story.

The Post reported that Dennard was fired from a job at Arizona State University “for making sexually explicit comments and gestures toward women.”

The Post obtained a copy of an ASU report that described the university’s 2014 internal investigation into Dennard’s conduct. According to the newspaper, the report “describes a series of inappropriate incidents often initiated by Dennard with the two women in 2013 and 2014.”

The investigation found that Dennard had committed “serious misconduct,” according to the Post.

Later, Dennard became a high-profile surrogate for the Trump campaign, appearing frequently on television and in other forums. He is well known to CNN viewers as a political commentator for the network, and for his staunch defenses of President Trump.

CNN doesn’t deserve praise for severing ties with Dennard. They deserve strong criticism for putting this fool on TV in the first place.

What, exactly, do Trump lickspittles contribute to the public discussion, anyway? What do these boosters of the bigoted billionaire do for ratings? What benefit is provided to the public by having such extremists on?

The decision to inflict Dennard upon CNN’s viewers in the first place was every bit as morally wayward as Bill Maher’s promotion of right-wing crackpots like Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos. Fellow CNN commentator Rick Santorum is also an obnoxious right-wing trash talker, but there’s a devil’s-advocate argument that as a two-term US Senator, Santorum has (theoretically) something credible to say about modern politics. What’s the excuse for Dennard? Democrats don’t want to watch him, and Trump’s base regards CNN as “fake news.”

Remember fourteen years ago, when Jon Stewart condemned CNN’s brain-cell-killing Crossfire? It shocks the conscience that CNN would continue the sort of morally obscene behavior Stewart denounced by bringing on Dennard and other Trump lickspittles to distort and demean. Doesn’t CNN feel any obligation to the greater public good? Why can’t they leave the lowest-common-denominator stuff to Fox?

It appears that programming that will enlighten, instead of enrage, will now have to be produced by entities other than the House Ted Turner Built. One such program—which presumably will not feature any Trump cheerleaders—will cast a spotlight on an issue CNN apparently prefers to ignore:

A recent New York Times Magazine article about climate change and the political forces that have stymied efforts to combat the phenomenon will become an Apple television project.

Apple announced on Tuesday that it had bought the rights to a series produced by Anonymous Content and based on “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change,” a novelistic article by Nathaniel Rich that stretched more than 30,000 words and took up an entire issue of The Times Magazine this month. At least a half-dozen bidders sought to acquire the nonfiction project.

Anonymous Content is a production and management company known for films like “Spotlight” and partly owned by a firm controlled by Laurene Powell Jobs. Mr. Rich, who is working on a related book called “Losing Earth” to be published next year, will serve as an executive producer with Steve Golin, the Oscar-winning founder of Anonymous.

The “Losing Earth” article recounted how, from 1979 to 1989, a small group of American scientists, activists and politicians tried to save the world from the ravages of climate change before it was too late. The article was produced with the support of the Pulitzer Center and was based on more than 18 months of reporting and over 100 interviews.

The “Losing Earth” series is the sort of programming CNN should produce, but apparently it’s easier to feature devotees of the Donald groping for relevancy. James Earl Jones once famously intoned, “This is CNN.” What I wouldn’t give to see an online parody ad in which Jones watches a clip of Dennard making a doofus of himself and remarks, “This is CNN?!”

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.