March 31, 2022

CBS News is taking some grief for hiring former Trump administration official Mick Mulvaney as a contributor. Mulvaney will offer his political analysis as we approach the midterms later this year. He made his debut earlier this week on “CBS Mornings.”

The Washington Post’s Jeremy Barr obtained a recording of comments made by CBS News co-president Neeraj Khemlani, who told the staff of the network’s morning show, “Being able to make sure that we are getting access to both sides of the aisle is a priority because we know the Republicans are going to take over, most likely, in the midterms. A lot of the people that we’re bringing in are helping us in terms of access to that side of the equation.”

Barr wrote, “The reaction from CBS News employees to Mulvaney’s hiring was as chilly as the reaction on social media, where many journalists and political commentators suggested that the network was jeopardizing its long history of journalistic excellence.”

Barr added, “In February 2020, while serving as President Donald Trump’s interim chief of staff, Mulvaney said that media coverage of the growing coronavirus pandemic was meant ‘to bring down the president.’ He also infamously defended a Trump administration decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine for political purposes, and predicted in a Nov. 7, 2020, Wall Street Journal opinion column that Trump would gracefully accept electoral defeat.”

MSNBC columnist Hayes Brown wrote, “One can only assume that the CBS newsroom leadership has suffered a mass amnesia event. That is the only reason I can come up with to hire Mulvaney, a partisan hack devoid of any sense of ethics who lacks the authority to offer credible analysis on his own breakfast, let alone fiscal policy. Absent that excuse, the network’s decision to hire him is a detriment to its credibility and to the press as a whole.”

According to Barr’s report, several CBS News employees feel the same.

The headline on an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times from Kurt Bardella called CBS News bringing on Mulvaney “journalistic malpractice.” Bardella wrote, “I’d expect this move from a Trump-aligned propaganda medium like Fox News. But from CBS News? Give me a break.”

Bardella added, “It’s as if the power-that-be at the network learned nothing from a tumultuous presidency that culminated with insurrectionists attacking the U.S. Capitol. The very people who rode shotgun in the effort to dismantle democracy are being rewarded with book deals, guest-host roles on TV shows and more. Let’s be clear: Democracy doesn’t die in darkness, it dies because of stuff like this.”

Brown detailed many of the things on Mulvaney’s resume and wrote, “Mulvaney was an awful chief of staff to a uniquely terrible president. He has made no amends for his time in office but still stands to gain from a whitewashing of his tainted record. As a congressman he advocated for decimating the federal social safety net and crashing the American economy. As a Trump crony, he readily abandoned whatever principles he claimed to possess. Now, it seems, CBS News is doing the same.”

A Washington Post exclusive

Here’s quite the story from The Washington Post’s Taylor Lorenz and Drew Harwell. The headline alone is a stunner: “Facebook paid GOP firm to malign TikTok.”

It includes this whopper of an opening:

Facebook parent company Meta is paying one of the biggest Republican consulting firms in the country to orchestrate a nationwide campaign seeking to turn the public against TikTok.

The campaign includes placing op-eds and letters to the editor in major regional news outlets, promoting dubious stories about alleged TikTok trends that actually originated on Facebook, and pushing to draw political reporters and local politicians into helping take down its biggest competitor. These bare-knuckle tactics, long commonplace in the world of politics, have become increasingly noticeable within a tech industry where companies vie for cultural relevance and come at a time when Facebook is under pressure to win back young users.

Employees with the firm, Targeted Victory, worked to undermine TikTok through a nationwide media and lobbying campaign portraying the fast-growing app, owned by the Beijing-based company ByteDance, as a danger to American children and society, according to internal emails shared with The Washington Post.

Targeted Victory declined to respond to the Post’s questions about the campaign, only telling the Post that it has represented Meta for several years and is “proud of the work we have done.”

After the story was published, Targeted Victory CEO Zac Moffatt posted a lengthy Twitter thread, saying the Post story “not only mischaracterizes the work we do, but key points are simply false.”

This is an eyebrow-raising story.

Two more must-read reports from The Washington Post …

Speaking of the Post

Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion writer Jonathan Capehart has been promoted to associate editor at The Washington Post. Capehart has been at the Post since 2007, working on the editorial board and writing a weekly column exploring the intersection of social, cultural and political issues. He also hosts “The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart” on MSNBC and does a regular Friday segment on “PBS NewsHour.”

In the announcement, Post publisher and CEO Fred Ryan said, “Over the past 15 years, Jonathan has built a loyal following that extends the pages of Post Opinions with ventures into podcasting, hosting Washington Post Live programs and anchoring his own national news show. Jonathan’s approach to dissecting the news in meaningful and conversational ways has made him an esteemed figure at The Post and in the media industry. We are thrilled to have him take on a greater leadership role.”

Before the Post, Capehart also worked at the Daily News in New York and Bloomberg News.

Yes, a few more pieces on the Will Smith-Chris Rock slap at the Oscars

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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