First, let’s get this out of the way: Yes, Crossfire is back, and, yes, Newt Gingrich is a host. He’s also up to his old partisan tricks, plugging politicians whom the American Legacy PAC, where he is an honorary co-chair, are supporting financially. And CNN is complicit. When Gingrich started, the network assured that he would be up front about his conflicts of interest, with CNN exec Rick Davis promising that if the PAC “is helping fund a candidate and that candidate’s on the show, or being discussed on the show, of course he’ll disclose that. Disclosure is important when it’s relevant.” Now the network seems to be changing the rules for him.
After Media Matters and Mother Jones pointed out that American Legacy donates to Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, a guest and subject on Crossfire, respectively, CNN changed its tune. “We are clarifying the policy and making it clear Newt Gingrich is not in violation,” said Davis in a new statement. “The policy: If a Crossfire co-host has made a financial contribution to a politician who appears on the program or is the focus of the program, disclosure is not required during the show since the co-host’s political support is obvious by his or her point of view expressed on the program.”
Newt has also plugged Cruz as “a pretty clever guy” on Anderson Cooper 360, another CNN program, while his co-host Stephanie Cutter has her own conflict-of-interest issues. If we can’t trust CNN, who can we trust?