Originally published in Paste Magazine.
Photo by Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty
They say that job-hopping looks bad on a resume, but it seems to be working for Corey Lewandowski, who just took on his fourth position in just two year’s time at One America News Network. If you’ve never heard of OAN, it claims to be “fast becoming the fourth rated national cable news channel,” and “adding credibility back to news,” which is pretty rad for a guy who apparently once got seven write-in votes for Massachusetts state representative election in 1994. It’s like Drake’s “Started from the Bottom” was written for him.
OAN is a fairly new, very conservative network, launched in July 2013. It offers 24-hour news coverage and a variety of programming like Tipping Point, hosted by Liz Wheeler and The Daily Ledger with Graham Ledger. Until TheBlaze commentator Tomi Lahren left the network in August 2015, she hosted On Point with Tomi Lahren – her first job out of college. It’s unclear as to what it is that Lewandowski will be doing at OAN, however. Robert Herring, CEO of OAN just told The Daily Beast that he will be working for them “like he worked for CNN,” so it’s likely that he will be taking on some sort of commentator role. Herring pointed out the fact that the network is growing and they’re looking to bulk up their staff.
“We got a lot of help from [Corey] in the past,” Herring said to the The Daily Beast. “He seems like a very nice guy and very knowledgeable.”
Lewandowski is a man from fairly humble beginnings who, according to his out-of-date LinkedIn profile, has been involved in politics in some capacity since he was the executive assistant and director of intern programs for Representative Peter G. Torkildsen in 1996. He worked for Americans for Prosperity – a grassroots organization that “advocates for limited government, lower taxes and more freedom” – fighting against green energy programs since 2008, but he was a fairly unknown name outside of the Republican Party until 2015, when he was tapped to be Donald Trump’s campaign manager.
As we all know, the majority of the Trump campaign was a real rollercoaster, complete with more than it’s fair share of word vomit from the now-POTUS. From referring to Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals, and controversial comments from the past coming back to haunt Trump left and right, Lewandowski proved to be OK at damage control, despite touting that he prefers to “let Trump be Trump” according to The Wall Street Journal.
During a significant downturn in poll numbers in mid-2016, tensions were rising between Lewandowski and the rest of the campaign staff, as well as Trump himself. This came in the midst of a controversial battery charge that was later dismissed when Lewandowski was accused of forcefully grabbing Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields after she asked a question about affirmative action, according to Politico. Trump let him go in a meeting with Eric and Donald Trump Jr. on June 20.
Wasting no time, Lewandowski immediately took on a gig at CNN, where he filled the not-really-needed role of conservative political commentator. Not only did he turn out to be not particularly good at his job, but Vanity Fair even reported that due to a nondisclosure agreement that he signed while working with Trump, he may not even have been legally able to criticize him on the air. Luckily, after a few snafus and his candidate of choice ultimately winning the election, Lewandowski again, wasted no time and jumped right back into Trump’s arms, assuming that he would be taking on the role of chief of staff or senior adviser – which ultimately went to Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
So, What’s the Big Deal?
It’s safe to say that this new administration is going to be nothing like we’ve ever seen before. Though it would be nice to be able to chuckle at the fact that Lewandowski is continuously shoved aside by the president like an annoying little brother, there is no denying the undying support that he has for the new administration. It’s troubling that he once again has a voice in the media – even if his voice only reaches 15 million households.
Trump has a well-documented history of a contentious relationship with the press. Not only does he rant on Twitter about every publication that wrongs him, dubbing everything even vaguely critical as “fake news,” but he’s gone so far as to revoke press credentials on his campaign trail. He’s likely working to do the same now that he’s actually in power. A few of the publications that Trump has questioned the legitimacy of includes, but is not limited to: NBC, The New York Times, BuzzFeed, The Washington Post and CNN.
Had Lewandowski not quit at CNN, this would have been an in for the network -access to the president and his activities, despite the fact that the president stands by his “fake news” comment from his last press conference. However, without a trusted Trumpian working for them, there’s no way to guarantee that one of the most trusted cable news sources will continue to get firsthand information.
Fox News has plenty of Trump access, though. As does Breitbart. As far as we know, Lewandowski hasn’t done a single thing at OANN yet. But even so, One America News Network already has Trump in their back pocket – solely for saying that the infamous dossier isn’t legitimate. They’re far from the only news source that’s said this, but I digress.
Surely, we’ve noticed that there’s a real pattern here. If things keep up like this, the only media outlets with direct connections to the President of the United States will be the ones willing to kiss ass. According to Esquire, the official White House Press Corps may become a thing of the past. Three senior officials of Trump’s transition team discussed the potential plan to nix the White House press room with the magazine. If this were to happen, they would move reporters to the White House Conference Center, a far larger and less intimate space, out of the building itself.
The president may not be able to take away the freedom of the press, but nowhere in the Constitution does it say that he can’t strip publications of their credentials and access. The president’s vindictive attitude toward anyone willing to cross him can not only severely limit the publications that have the ability to report on the White House, but it also leaves journalism itself in a bit of hogtie. No president gets through four years completely free of criticism, even from his own political party. Will these sources be able to publish their own opinions of him, without fear of having their access ripped away like the slew of “inaccurate,” “disgraceful,” “unfair,” “SAD!” reporters that may have come before them? What sources would we be able to trust – the ones without White House access, or the ones who only have it because the president is dangling a press pass in front of their faces?