By now you’ve seen CNN counter-terror analyst Phil Mudd’s on-air meltdown with Trump supporter Paris Dennard. Actually, I shouldn’t say “with Paris Denard, I should say AT Paris Denard.
For the uninitiated, here is the full exchange where Dennard enrages the former CIA/FBI official by daring to suggest that having a security clearance in DC is in some way financially beneficial to people like Mudd who leave government and get consulting jobs in the private sector
From a media analysis perspective, there are a couple dynamics you need to understand here. Mudd is an actual employee of CNN. (Set aside the irony that holding a security clearance may have aided in him securing that plum gig.) Dennard is not an employee of the network, he is an invited guest. So Mudd is a colleague or co-worker of the show’s host, Jim Sciutto.
When Mudd yelled “get out” as if he were the new Wally George throwing unwelcome opinions off his set, he actually had some level of authority. He and Sciutto are the representatives of CNN in this setting, Denard is their invited guest.
Mudd, as a paid contributor to the network, was carrying CNN’s brand when he gave this performance. And at this point, CNN’s silence in reprimanding or chastising Mudd for his over-the-top antics suggests that they are just fine with this kind of political discourse. In fact, they encourage it.
When Sciutto finally took control of his own show he immediately sided with his co-worker, Mudd. In fact, he even apologized to Mudd, not to Dennard who had just been screamed at and evicted from the program.
CNN has tried to continue the myth that they are the last bastion of objective journalism in America (if not the world.) They constantly berate the president for his coarse and boorish behavior (he is a New Yorker, after all.) They ridicule and shame Fox News and conservative media outlets for not engaging in the high-minded, fact-based scrutiny of the important events affecting the American people.
And yet, Phill Mudd is their kind of analyst. And this is not just a one-off for Mudd.
In March he said on the air that he wouldn’t “stoop to wipe my ass” with the House Intel report on the use of the Steele dossier to obtain a FISA warrant on Carter Page.
Last month he wondered on air when a “shadow government” would emerge from Washington DC to oppose President Trump.
And now here he is protesting way too much over the obvious fact that former Intel officials are hot commodities when they retain their security clearances. And, on behalf of his employer CNN, he behaves like a raving lunatic.
CNN appears to be fine with this. They have sent a clear message to the Paris Dennard’s of the world. Your pro-Trump views are welcome here, but just take notice that you will be berated and ridiculed and mocked and shouted at and humiliated if you dare to make an effective point.
CNN has also sent that clear message to their pro-Trump viewers. What’s left of them.