A CNN panel Sunday defended the network hiring a former FBI deputy director who was fired for lying to the bureau regarding leaks to the media while criticizing two competing networks for recently hiring former White House press secretaries.
Brian Stelter, the host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” led a discussion with contributors Irin Carmon and Daniel Dale about the personnel decisions.
Liberals panned ABC’s decision to hire Sean Spicer as a guest on “Dancing with the Stars,” as well as Fox’s move to hire Sarah Huckabee Sanders as a contributor. Stelter said on CNN Thursday the hirings “deserve outrage and backlash.”
Instead of commenting on the McCabe hiring himself on Sunday’s show, Stelter posed a question to one of his panelists.
“People on the right said, ‘Well, you’re hiring McCabe. Why can’t Fox hire Sanders?’ Is there a difference?” Stelter asked Carmon, a paid CNN analyst who writes for New York Magazine.
“Of course there’s a difference,” said Carmon.
“Andrew McCabe is going to bring serious expertise with respect to the FBI and investigations. And he in no way was accused of standing in front of the American people and lying to them,” she said. “He was accused of lack of candor about talking to the press. The proportion the scale and the substance are utterly non-comparable.”
Moments before her defense of CNN and McCabe, Carmon railed against the hirings of Spicer and Sanders, asking: “Does truth matter?”
The FBI fired McCabe on March 16, 2018, after receiving recommendations from the bureau’s Office of Professional Responsibility and Justice Department inspector general. Investigators said McCabe displayed a “lack of candor” under oath when asked whether he authorized a deputy, Lisa Page, to speak with the media in October 2016 regarding an investigation of the Clinton Foundation.
McCabe played a key role in opening investigations into President Donald Trump and members of his campaign. After James Comey was fired as FBI director on May 9, 2017, McCabe authorized the FBI to open an obstruction of justice investigation of Trump.
He also helped direct the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government. The special counsel found no evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump team and Kremlin.
McCabe sued the FBI and Justice Department on Aug. 8, alleging he was fired for political reasons.
Though Stelter portrayed the criticism of McCabe’s hiring as coming from conservatives, liberal journalists have also questioned the decision.
Washington Post media reporter Erik Wemple questioned CNN’s move in an article Friday titled “CNN errs in hiring former FBI official Andrew McCabe.”
Wemple noted McCabe has “‘real’ credibility issues” and had “deep involvement in the Russia investigation.” The Justice Department’s inspector general is investigating the FBI’s handling of the Russia probe.