By Joseph Wulfsohn
Published September 13, 2019
CNN's primetime lineup on Thursday night apparently did not have enough time to address the controversy swirling around one of the liberal cable outlet's own employees: former FBI deputy director-turned CNN contributor Andrew McCabe.
On Thursday, the Department of Justice rejected McCabe's appeal regarding an ongoing criminal probe, as U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu recommended proceeding with criminal charges against the former FBI official. The probe is exploring whether he misled investigators concerning a media leak about the Clinton Foundation just before the 2016 election.
McCabe, who was forced out of the DOJ in early 2018, landed a gig with CNN just last month. And while the breaking news did receive attention in the afternoon, it wasn't mentioned at all during the network's primetime programming.
Much of CNN's coverage on Thursday was instead dedicated to pre-debate and post-debate analysis of the 10 Democratic candidates who faced off against each other.
"Anderson Cooper 360" anchor Anderson Cooper spent time covering a new gun control push by a group of business leaders and the latest impeachment efforts by House Democrats. Meanwhile, "Cuomo Prime Time" anchor Chris Cuomo dedicated a substantial amount of his show on the devastation in the Bahamas following Hurricane Dorian.
The coverage McCabe received on the network pre-primetime was mostly defensive, particularly by CNN's chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
"Andy McCabe is a CNN contributor. He's a colleague and a friend to many of us who work here. He's here recently, but people need to factor that into what they're hearing," Toobin said. "This is an extremely unusual prosecution. Andy McCabe had the right to speak to reporters. That is beyond dispute. As deputy director of the FBI, he had the right to speak to reporters. He also has an impeccable record as one of the most honored and successful FBI agents of his generation.”
Toobin went on to describe McCabe's actions as "complicated as hell," and said that it's "really difficult to understand even what the lie is here." Toobin then tweaked his own comment, saying "alleged lie."
"The alleged lie is, 'Well, you have the right to speak to the reporters and you spoke to the reporters,' months later, 'Describe what was in the conversation that you had every right to have at a time when he is being interviewed for another subject,'" Toobin continued. "You never have the right to lie to an inspector general. If he lied, it’s a crime, but lying to the inspector general is rarely prosecuted. Lying in these very esoteric circumstances where, you know, it’s about this conversation, that conversation – is rare. You know, it looks like he’s going to be indicted, but you know, good luck to the government proving this case.”
CNN's Wolf Blitzer also interviewed crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz about the McCabe situation. Prokupecz provided a thorough recap of McCabe's predicament.
McCabe's employment at CNN was not exactly welcomed by numerous employees in the first place. One on-air personality told Fox News that McCabe seems like a “good guy” in general, but crucial blunders will ultimately define him.
“He made some colossal mistakes and the fact that he f---ing lied under oath, I have no sympathies for him,” the CNN staffer said. “How will [CNN] have him weigh in on anything related to integrity?”