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How Is It OK for CNN to Hire Possible Presidential Contender John Kasich?

“This is not me promoting anything, including myself,” the former Ohio governor says, while promoting himself.

||| CNNCNN"Welcome to the team," CNN's Chris Cuomo said to former Ohio governor John Kasich last night, shaking the long-rumored presidential candidate's enormous right hand. "We are benefited by your presence."

Kicking off his first appearance as a paid contributor to "the most trusted name in news," Kasich vowed to "deal with the elephant in the room," and then promptly did not, if by "elephant" you mean whether he's going to run for president against Donald Trump in 2020. Instead, he assured viewers that "I'm going to be like an umpire, calling balls and strikes," and that he was just here "to help people understand, as best as I can, the way things work on the inside." Oh, "and by the way, this is not me promoting anything, including myself."

Uh-huh.

||| TV NewserTV NewserIt's true that CNN ranks a frequently distant third in the cable news wars, but even audiences of 700,000 largely geriatric news junkies constitute real promotional opportunities, and not just for reverse mortgages and Chantix. In his initial eight-minute act of political umpiring, covering everything from the William Barr confirmation hearings to the government shutdown to censure of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), Kasich managed to fit in more testimonials about himself than a typical cable news contributor might offer in a year.

"Nobody's going to pressure me, nobody's going talk me into anything," he declared, just like normal political commentators do. "I have people that have walked up to me all the time, and they have looked at me as a straight shooter, and they're of both political parties," he reported. "I've always been an independent, remain an independent person—let's look at the problem and let's go fix it," he said. "I don't care who the president is, the president has to be big enough to say, 'Let's get this behind us.'" And my personal favorite: "When Mitt Romney wrote that op-ed piece, and everybody got worked up down there? I probably would have written three by now."

So it's easy to see the benefits from Kasich's point of view—regular opportunities to self-promote and criticize the political competition in the run-up to a possible campaign announcement, and you get paid? Sign me up! But the real head-scratcher here is the behavior of CNN.

The first cable news network is also frequently the most sanctimonious defender of journalistic nobility, and loudest critic of the way President Donald Trump degrades the norms of America's political and media culture. And yet here those same people are, paying a newsmaker for exclusivity, and creating a norm that was unthinkable even four years ago.

As CNN Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter dryly phrased it, "In the past, CNN and other cable news channels have broken off ties with commentators once they took specific steps to run for office." In fact, four years ago this month, that's exactly what Fox News did with Mike Huckabee.

"I won't make a decision about running until late in the spring of 2015, but the continued chatter has put Fox News into a position that is not fair to them," the then-Fox host wrote to his supporters, explaining the mutual decision. "The honorable thing to do at this point is to end my tenure here at Fox so I can openly talk with potential donors and supporters and gauge support." Fox had severed its contributor contract with presidential contender Ben Carson a few months prior to that.

This is what CNN used to do with potential candidates like Pat Buchanan. As Stelter put it back when he worked for The New York Times, "The benefit to the viewers" in hiring potential candidates as contributors "is less clear. Some experts say the arrangements can cloud the objectivity of the news organizations":

"As long as they are still newsmakers, there is a strong potential for conflict," said Andy Schotz, the chairman of the ethics committee for the Society of Professional Journalists. At the very least, it can amount to an advantage for the analysts, and create a perception of favoritism.

It will be interesting to see whether Stelter will show the same interest in probing these conflicts on this weekend's Reliable Sources.

Photo Credit: ELIZABETH FRANTZ/REUTERS/Newscom

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  • A Lady of Reason||

    Sounds very fishy to me! Major conflict of interest...

  • A Lady of Spam||

    Totally agree with you sister... I love waking up and reading a fresh feminine insight every morning... stuff that really makes you think. You're a breath of fresh air on this website. Too many men who think guns and penises are cool. Sorry boys move over, let a lady get a word in edgewise!

  • Rich||

    "the president has to be big enough to say, 'Let's get this behind us.'"

    With all due respect, John -- Isn't that more or less what he's been saying?

    Also, geriatric news junkies is a nice band name.

  • Echo Chamber||

    "shaking the long-rumored presidential candidate's enormous right hand"

    Clearly not presidential dimensions

  • Just Say'n||

    If CNN keeps hiring washed-up Republican warmongers they might have to change their name to the Libertarian Party

  • Just Say'n||

    BUCS is the Chris Cuomo of the LP

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Now that's just an unwarranted slam. BUCS is a nice guy and I'm certain has much better hair.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Reason Magazine - Neocons R Us

  • Dillinger||

    "possible presidential contender" fucking hilarious dude.

  • Don't look at me!||

    Even when he ran he wasn't a contender.

  • ||

    He's a RINO swamp dweller.

  • Ryan (formally HFTO)||

    Because he hates Trump. Next question

  • Sevo||

    Can his salary be considered a campaign contribution from the corporation which owns CNN?

  • ByteRot||

    This is the new normal. We've determined that cults of personality are more important than policy, so presidential contenders need to have a way to be a recurring feature on mass media. That means either being high profile talking heads, reality TV stars, or just constantly in the news due to scandal and tabloid obsession or boogie-man status by the opposing party.

  • Just Say'n||

    In the past, the cult of personality would only begin once they were sworn into office. But, you're right, now it's before the numbskull even gets elected.

    Also, Kasich has no personality, so I'm not sure how this job will help him

  • Juice||

    Kasich has a personality?

  • ByteRot||

    That's why it's a cult. You need to be a cultist to believe he has a personality.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    CNN should hire Hillary Clinton as a kind of answer to Barbra Walters.

  • ||

    CNN can;t afford Hitlery.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    He's a regular guy, like you 'n me. A roll-up-his-sleeves type of fella. Just wants to do the work of the American people.

  • Just Say'n||

    His father was a mailman. Did you know that?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    It's okay because Kasich will never be president and CNN will never again be a serious news outlet.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Deep State Media

  • gad-fly||

    Fox does it all the time - Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin to name two.

  • Just Say'n||

    True about Huckabee, but I don't think Sarah Palin had a show before she was on the McCain ticket

  • BYODB||

    Pretty sure both their political careers were over by that point, but yeah both outlets are not news organizations.

  • Joe M||

    "I have people that have walked up to me all the time, and they have looked at me as a straight shooter, and they're of both political parties," he reported. "I've always been an independent, remain an independent person—let's look at the problem and let's go fix it," he said.

    That definitely doesn't sound like he's workshopping a campaign speech.

  • Teddy Pump||

    Yeah, CNN is a great place right now for Independents, right?

  • BYODB||

    Haha, how this could be confusing is itself confusing. CNN isn't a news outlet in my opinion and neither is any other channel.

  • Curly4||

    John Kasich has every right to work for CNN if he wants. He would be a very good fit there since he hates Trump as much as CNN does. Now if John decides to run for president he then would need to resign from CNN though.

  • commentguy||

    I agree. It seems a bit premature to be hand-wringing over what might happen if the guy tries to become the GOP candidate in over a year's time.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    We need to get over all this thinking the president is some sort of religious figure. What difference does it make if a president or candidate is on TV or uses Twitter?

    The problem is that we give the president and federal government too much power. Take that away and we can elect perennial candidate Mickey Mouse without suffering undue consequences.

  • PaulTheBeav||

    Trump won't face any serious competition within the party. It would just be an opportunity for another Republican to embarrass themselves. On the other hand, Trump may not run again. I'm starting to think that's the more likely scenario. If he chooses not to, Nikki Haley will be the next President.

  • buybuydandavis||

    The Never Trumper dead enders don't expect to beat Trump in the primary, they just want to peel off enough voters so Trump loses in the general.

    They're all about destroying the Republican Party as long as it isn't run by the right wing of the Deep State Globalist Uniparty.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "How Is It OK for CNN to Hire Possible Presidential Contender John Kasich?"

    Because it potentially weakens Trump in the 2020 general election. Duh.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    Perhaps they know that his candidacy is strictly for "comic effect", that he has no chance, and that any check he writes to a SecState for listing on a ballot will bounce?

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