CNN is working so hard to pivot from being the Never Trump network that its new corporate bosses just hired one of the movement’s most prominent cheerleaders.
On Tuesday, CNN announced the hiring of ex-Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who stepped down from the lower chamber this week after he declined to seek re-election in November.
“Happy to join team @CNN!” Kinzinger wrote on Twitter, where his moniker now includes the hashtag “fella.”
Kinzinger, a six-term retired lawmaker who now joins the network as a senior political commentator, spent years auditioning for the new gig as one of former President Donald Trump’s most vocal critics in the House. When Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney launched a futile effort to coral Republican support for the Democrats’ snap impeachment of the outgoing president in January 2021, Kinzinger was quick to jump on the bandwagon. The Illinois lawmaker was one of nine Republicans to join Cheney in her vote to impeach, and later became the second GOP representative hand-selected by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be on the select committee ostensibly probing the Jan. 6 riot. First was Cheney, who led the Democrats’ panel as vice chair.
Kinzinger’s appointment led to more regular appearances on CNN, with the network obsessed with giving the committee round-the-clock coverage. His theatrics, complete with performative tears for the television during the panel’s first public hearing in the summer of 2021, now appears to have paid off. By October of the same year, Kinzinger, hampered by redistricting while his path was already paved for a CNN contributorship anyway, opted to forgo re-election altogether. This week, the ex-lawmaker finally completed his quest for paid TV appearances, and with it, his career on Capitol Hill.
The hire by CNN illustrates a network still struggling with an identity crisis in the era of a post-Trump presidency. Last summer, new leadership embarked on a supposed campaign to transition the company from merely an anti-Trump operation into an objective news outlet. Many of CNN’s most prominent left-wing pundits masquerading as journalists have been either terminated or demoted. Brian Stelter, who hosted the Sunday show “Reliable Sources,” was fired in August. CNN White House Correspondent John Harwood abruptly departed the network in September. Don Lemon was demoted from prime-time programming to host a morning show.
Kinzinger joins CNN expressly as an opinion contributor, but if the network were in pursuit of a true makeover away from the never-ending Never Trump commentary, executives might have given staff recruitment a second thought.