CBS News staffers are reportedly in "turmoil" over the company's decision to hire former acting Trump White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney as a paid on-air contributor.
Verified left-wingers and journalists on Twitter reacted poorly after Mulvaney appeared on CBS's streaming service Tuesday to comment on President Joe Biden's new budget proposal. MSNBC columnist Hayes Brown declared that CBS was offering the former Trump official an unearned chance at "rehabilitation," accusing him of enabling "Trump's lies and scheming." Democratic adviser Kurt Bardella called Mulvaney "an architect of democracy's demise" and said "he should not be legitimized by being affiliated with a major news network." Media Matters' Matt Gertz said the hiring decision was an "embarrassment."
Mulvaney, a former three-term Congressman, was appointed by President-elect Donald Trump to serve as the director of the Office of Management and Budget in 2016. He served as acting White House chief of staff from January 2019 until March 2020, and also spent time as the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau between November 2017 and December 2018.
According to the Washington Post, staffers inside CBS News shared those apoplectic reactions, suggesting that Mulvaney's hire "was jeopardizing [the network's] long history of journalistic excellence."
“I know everyone I talked to today was embarrassed about the hiring,” said one anonymous CBS News employee. According to the Post, staffers are upset that Mulvaney was hired because some of his past comments contradicted what mainstream journalists had reported at various points throughout Trump's presidency.
“Everyone is baffled,” remarked another employee. "It makes no sense to hire a guy whose entire job was to lie to us on behalf of Trump.”
A senior CBS News producer defended the hiring by mentioning that 74.2 million Americans voted for Trump in the 2020 presidential election. According to the Washington Post, top executives at CBS News want to hire more Republican voices at the network in anticipation that the GOP will take control of Congress after the 2022 midterm elections.
The paper obtained an audio recording of CBS News co-president Neeraj Khemlani telling staff at a meeting earlier this month that hiring Republicans is a "priority" so that the company will have "access" to Congress if Republicans regain the majority.
“If you look at some of the people that we’ve been hiring on a contributor basis, 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,” Khemlani reportedly said. “A lot of the people that we’re bringing in are helping us in terms of access to that side of the equation.”
A spokesperson for CBS did not comment to the Washington Post on the recording.
“CBS News is continuing to build up its roster of contributors on both sides of the aisle ahead of the midterms and the 2024 election,” the spokesperson said.