It seems the rank-and-file over at CBS are getting restless—and it all stems from a controversial new hire.
According to a report in The Washington Post, higher-ups at the network have conceded that Republicans are likely to return in a big way in the November midterm elections. And this is why the network decided to hire former President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, as an on-air contributor.
The Post cited CBS News co-President Neeraj Khemlani as explaining to staffers that it was necessary for the network to incorporate more Republican voices for the very good reason that he expects there to be far fewer Democrats in the halls of power come November. Khemlani seems convinced that Democrats will crash and burn in the upcoming midterms.
“If you look at some of the people that we’ve been hiring on a contributor basis,” Khemlani observed in a recording that was leaked to the Post, “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.”
Mick Mulvaney, it goes without saying, hardly fits the mold of the typical CBS contributor. In fact, during his time as Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mulvaney took more than a few shots at the network—among others—for continually bashing his former boss. And Mulvaney isn’t the only former Trump staffer to be hired by the network.
Another former Trump chief of staff, Reince Priebus, was hired by CBS in 2020, and Trump’s former National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster was onboarded earlier in the month.
But it seems not everyone at the network is pleased with the new additions to the team.
“I know everyone I talked to today was embarrassed about the hiring,” one CBS employee told The Washington Post on condition of anonymity. This appears to be the consensus view among the rank-and-file over at CBS, and their backlash over the new hire seems to be what prompted Khemlani’s statement about the rationale behind the network’s new hiring policy.
CBS’s decision shouldn’t come as any great surprise. Upon reading the tea leaves, the network seems to have made the sensible choice, determining that hiring Mulvaney over the objections of its own staff was necessary to keep a connection to the 74 million Americans who voted for Trump—a vast pool of potential viewers the network simply can’t afford to alienate.
And even if it turns off some of their touchy current viewership, that’s a trade CBS News apparently thinks is worthwhile.
CBS News’s decision to hire Mick Mulvaney as a paid on-air contributor is drawing backlash within the company because of his history of bashing the press and promoting Trump’s lies.
I will NOT watch @CBSNews until they rescind this decision — how about you? #BoycottCBSNews
— Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets) March 31, 2022
Mulvaney made his first appearance on the network on Tuesday morning. Interestingly, the anchor who introduced him, Anne-Marie Green, failed to mention that he worked for the Trump administration, introducing him instead as “a former Office of Management and Budget director.” According to the Post, this oversight prompted a company-wide memo instructing staff to always include “relevant background and biographical information.”
The spate of former Trump administration hires at CBS News follows similar moves by other networks, including CNN, which last year hired Alyssa Farrah Griffin, a former communications director at the Trump White House, and former Fox News host Chris Wallace. As the midterm elections near, expect many more mainstream networks to “diversify” their newsrooms.
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