If CNN Wants To Pay Someone To Be Wrong, They Could Go A Lot Cheaper Than Sean Duffy
Last month, as you may recall, The Real World's Sean Duffy retired from Congress in order to spend more time with his family. Yesterday, he made his debut on CNN as a commentator, ostensibly making a whole lot more than $174,000 a year. And less than three minutes into his tenure at "The Most Trusted Name In News," he lied.
Perhaps lied is a strong word. Lying would imply he knew he was wrong, which he almost definitely did not. What he did, more specifically, was repeat a ridiculous conspiracy theory that has been repeatedly proven to not be true as if it were an absolute fact.
So there Duffy was, all bright and shiny for his very first day of punditry, with everyone on the panel talking about (acting) Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney trying to explain that, actually, asking a foreign government for some quid pro quo in exchange for dirt on political opponents is super normal and great. Commentator Jen Psaki, who had previously worked in the State Department, gracefully explained that this is not at all how things work — that while the government might say something like "if you do more work on human rights and you are better on that, then we may unleash some more military assistance for you," that "using it as a political cudgel is absolutely not normal."
In response to this, Duffy immediately brought up the thoroughly debunked Crowdstrike conspiracy theory.
Transcript via Media Matters:
SEAN DUFFY (CNN CONTRIBUTOR): So hold on a second. So we spent two years on a Russia investigation, right, and Democrats and the media were all about what happened in the 2016 election. What Mick Mulvaney said was Donald Trump said let's look and say let's get the server. This is the DNC server that had everything to do with the Russian investigation in general.
PSAKI: This is the disputed Crowdstrike absurd conspiracy theory that you're talking about right now.
DUFFY: It may be, but he says I'm investigating the 2016 election and the DNC server.
AMANDA CARPENTER (CNN CONTRIBUTOR): That the intelligence community already made findings that everyone agrees upon, but for some reason Donald Trump is sending [attorney general] out on a goose hunt --
DUFFY: Let me speak. The FBI never got the server. It went to Crowdstrike, and Crowdstrike is partially owned by a former Russian -- now I'm not saying --
PSAKI: First of all, what you are stating is completely inaccurate and factually wrong.
DUFFY: No, no. It's not, it's actually true.
PSAKI: It's a conspiracy theory on the right wing blogs.
DUFFY: Why does this table disagree with the point we should look at 2016 Russia collusion?
Amanda Carpenter, for the record, is a conservative Republican who used to write for The Washington Times and Townhall, so it wasn't just like a bunch of smarty-pants liberals ganging up on the poor, down-home Republican what don't know any better.
The Crowdstrike conspiracy theory is as convoluted as it is provably untrue. So! On the infamous call to Ukraine, in addition to asking for dirt on Hunter Biden, Trump also asked for an investigation of the American cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike. They're the firm that the DNC hired to investigate the 2016 hacking of their email servers. According to a bunch of right-wing conspiracy theorists — including Trump — Crowdstrike was part of a big ol' "deep state" plot to make it look like Russia was meddling in the election and, thus, make Donald Trump look bad. Seth Rich, they claim, was also involved with this somehow, and that's why they had to have him killed (they did not).
The extra sad thing about this is that Duffy doesn't even get the damn conspiracy right. The theory here is that Crowdstrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch is Ukrainian (he is not, he's Russian) and he did this whole thing as a way of getting revenge on Russia for his bad childhood back when Ukraine was under Soviet rule. It doesn't even make sense if you don't pretend that this guy who is Russian is actually Ukrainian! Get it together, Duffy.
It is, without question, extremely irresponsible of CNN to put someone on the air just to say things that are objectively not true. It seems like a strange thing to pay someone money to do, given that the point of having a news channel is to inform people of things. Unless it is Fox News, in which case the point would be "making stuff up to scare old white people and reap profits!"
If that is what they are looking for — if what they want is for someone to just get up there and say untrue things -- they could get that for way less money than whatever Sean Duffy is costing them. It is so easy to be wrong about things. They could literally just grab anyone off the street and say, "Say a thing that never happened" and boom! They are just as valuable a contributor as Sean Duffy. Unless they say the moon landing or the middle ages never happened, in which case, they are even better at being extremely wrong about things, and therefore even more of a catch. Heck! They could get me! I can totally make up some shit, or just repeat things that have already been proven to not be true. You want lizard people? I can do lizard people. I could tell your audience that chemtrails are causing tuberculosis in urban populations. I'm a natural Camille!
Oh! Or how about how fluoride affects our precious bodily fluids? That could work, and it is just as sane a thing to believe as that Crowdstrike bullshit. And you can get me for cheap, CNN! I'll even throw some gay frogs in for free. As a bonus.
I realize it is not up to me to tell CNN what to do, but I do hate to see anyone wasting money. I am offering them this advice, the same as I would offer them a 20% off Bed Bath and Beyond coupon from my large pile of 20% off Bed Bath and Beyond coupons if they told me were going there. I am just trying to help.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse