By Brian Flood
Published January 14, 2020
MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell has declared that rival liberal network CNN is too fair to President Trump.
The far-left O’Donnell appeared on former U.S. Sen. Al Franken’s podcast and took exception to Franken describing CNN as “playing it down the middle” with the exception of its negative coverage of Trump.
“No, they don’t. One-third of the people on their payroll love Trump,” O’Donnell said. “So you’re guaranteed on any hour of CNN to, minimum one-third of the programming will be supportive of Trump. Someone on their payroll saying, ‘Here’s why Trump’s right.’”
Franken said CNN’s hosts certainly don’t defend Trump, and O’Donnell agreed, noting they bring on conservative pundits as guests.
O’Donnell then claimed that Trump “kind of wants you to watch CNN instead of MSNBC” despite widespread acknowledgment that CNN has essentially established an anti-Trump programming strategy.
“Because he knows on MSNBC there will be no one defending him. Because we don’t bring on liars. I don’t bring on a liar. I won’t do that,” O’Donnell said.
Franken then asked if “you have to lie” in order to defend President Trump.
“Yes,” O’Donnell said. “Absolutely, how else do you defend a liar? A pathological liar who lies about everything? You have to lie.”
“CNN has people on the payroll who they pay to tell their lies to the CNN audience, in the middle of a CNN hour for some number of minutes, so Trump knows if you watch CNN, at least you’ll hear someone lying in my favor,” O’Donnell said. “That’s one of the reasons why he attacks CNN.”
Trump lashes out at CNN on a regular basis. Earlier this month he mocked the network’s ratings and credibility issues. Trump has feuded with CNN and its reporters frequently since taking office but his history with the network’s top executive goes back significantly further.
CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker was in charge of NBC Entertainment back in 2003 when he greenlit “The Apprentice,” which helped increase Trump’s star power, but the two have sparred since Trump entered the world of politics.
CNN producer-turned-Fourth Watcher editor Steve Krakauer criticized O’Donnell’s comments.
“The MSNBC host had some odd criticism for his competitor network in the anti-Trump space, CNN,” Krakauer wrote in his media newsletter. “First, it's a massive exaggeration to say CNN spends 33 percent of its time featuring pro-Trump pundits. Even if a pro-Trump pundit is appearing on a panel, they are almost always offset by three or four others on the opposite side.”
Krakauer added that O’Donnell’s theory “shows how far some in the media have come from understanding life outside the Acela Corridor between NYC and D.C.”