September 11 closed off a rather embarrassing week for CNN. Shortly after the network’s chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter, published a book condemning Fox News for a “dangerous distortion of the truth,” evidence emerged that CNN leaders meddled in a congressional race, offered favors to a presidential candidate in exchange for the promise of a TV show in 2016, and tried to coach President Donald Trump’s lawyer on the topic of Stormy Daniels.
But by all means, keep complaining about Fox News. That tactic is sure to hurt your competitor’s ratings, right?
Without further ado, here’s a round-up of CNN’s scandals.
1. CNN’s quid pro quo
CNN’s troubles started on Tuesday, when Fox News host Tucker Carlson played a tape exposing CNN President Jeff Zucker appearing to offer a quid pro quo to then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016, the New York Post reported.
Zucker told Trump lawyer Michael Cohen that he wanted Trump, whom he called “the boss,” to host a weekly show. He also touted the importance of having CNN on Trump’s side in the presidential election.
“You guys have had great instincts, great guts, and great understanding of everything. But you’re missing the boat on how it works going forward,” Zucker told Cohen during a March 2016 conversation Carlson revealed.
Zucker had worked with Trump as the former CEO of NBC Universal while the network was airing The Apprentice. “You cannot be elected president of the United States without CNN,” the network’s president told Cohen.
Zucker also gave Cohen advice about how Trump should handle the debate on March 10. Then the CNN president explained why he would speak to Cohen rather than sending an email to Trump directly.
“I’m very conscious of not putting too much in email, as you’re a lawyer, as you understand,” Zucker said. “And, you know, as fond as I am of the boss, he also has a tendency, like, you know, if I call him or I email him, he then is capable of going out at his next rally and saying that we just talked and I can’t have that, if you know what I’m saying.”
2. Chris Cuomo and Stormy Daniels
On Wednesday, Carlson released another tape. This time, the recording concerned a conversation between Cohen and CNN host Chris Cuomo. Carlson condemned Cuomo for manufacturing a “scripted drama, written for the Democratic Party” by preparing Trump’s lawyer to give an interview on the network regarding Trump’s alleged hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.
“I think the way this conversation goes is almost exactly the way we’re having it right now. Which is, where I say, ‘This looks shady,’ and you say, ‘It looks shady to you because you’re coming in with a specific intention,'” Carlson said, quoting Cuomo.
Cuomo instructed Cohen on how to dodge questions about a shell corporation he had allegedly used to make the Daniels payments.
“Quote: ‘I’m not being shady,’ Cuomo instructed Cohen to say. ‘I was being legal, and I did it my right way. You’re wrong about the LLC. I’ve used it for other things. I have tons of LLCs. I did not form it just to do this. And even if I had, my whole point would have been to keep it quiet. But that happens to just not be true.’ End quote,” Carlson read.
The Fox News host also reported that Cuomo actually advised Trump’s lawyer to threaten Cuomo on air with a defamation lawsuit if he “speculated” that he was “paid back by Trump or the campaign” for the alleged payments.
The recording also included Cuomo informing Cohen he’ll make “some phone calls” to make sure the questions he would ask wouldn’t put him in legal trouble.
3. What, exactly, did Jake Tapper tell Sean Parnell?
CNN’s bad week continued on Thursday when word got out that CNN host Jake Tapper had tried to pressure a U.S. Army veteran not to run against Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) and later denied it. Tapper reportedly told Sean Parnell, now Lamb’s Republican challenger, to run in a safer congressional district for Republicans. Yet when former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell asked Tapper about the situation, he denied asking Parnell not to run against Lamb.
Fox News published a Twitter direct message that Tapper sent to Parnell’s @SeanParnellUSA account on November 8, 2019, after Parnell officially declared his candidacy in the U.S. House race.
“And best of luck in your race. For the record, I wasn’t trying to talk you out of running — I was trying to talk you into running in a safer R district! Lol,” Tapper wrote to Parnell.
However, Tapper denied Breitbart’s reporting from earlier this week that the CNN host had tried to discourage Parnell from running against Lamb.
Grenell, who recently became a senior advisor for the Republican National Committee (RNC) revealed Tapper’s denial and excoriated the CNN host.
“Is it true you asked Sean Parnell to not run against Conor Lamb?” Grenell asked.
“Nope,” Tapper responded.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) September 10, 2020
“The [CNN] bias is serious. We all know this,” Grenell tweeted. “But when [Jake Tapper], a former Democrat Hill staffer from Pennsylvania, tries to manipulate a Pennsylvania Congressional race while hosting a nightly news show, the cable network MUST take action.”
The @CNN bias is serious. We all know this.
But when @jaketapper, a former Democrat Hill staffer from Pennsylvania, tries to manipulate a Pennsylvania Congressional race while hosting a nightly news show, the cable network MUST take action. https://t.co/aPNAOZfDM9
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) September 10, 2020
CNN tried to take on Fox News, but this week, Fox News revealed CNN’s shady dealings. Better luck next week, CNN.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.