Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, tweeted out encouragement and praise to the campaign’s “dream team” of pro-Trump CNN contributors, underscoring CNN’s ongoing Trump surrogate problem.
Over the course of the 2016 election, CNN hired four Trump supporters -- Kayleigh McEnany, Scottie Nell Hughes, Jeffrey Lord and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski -- explicitly to defend Trump on air. While on CNN, Lord defended Trump’s attacks against a Gold Star family and turned a discussion of Trump’s hesitance to disavow David Duke into an argument about whether Democrats used to support the KKK. Lewandowski has revived Trump’s birther claims against President Obama and recommending that the Republican nominee sue The New York Times “into oblivion.” McEnany defended Trump’s claim that Obama is the “founder of ISIS,” Hughes attacked Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine’s use of Spanish, and both Hughes and McEnany have defended Trump against multiple sexual assault accusations.
Lewandowski in particular has been an ethical nightmare for CNN; he likely has a non-disparagement agreement with the Trump campaign, was hired while he was still being paid severance by Trump’s campaign, has continued to do “consulting work” for Trump, and recently joined the campaign for events in Maine and New Jersey.
Jeff Zucker, the network’s president, defend hiring Trump surrogates as paid CNN contributors, claiming they represent the “14 million people who voted for” Trump.
On October 27, Conway praised the “members of our @CNN Dream Team” for “battling a daily deluge of spin & sophistry,” and urged them to “stay strong”:
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) October 27, 2016