CNN quietly let the word leak that it had fired conservative commentator Rick Santorum over the weekend, but its personnel decision sent another message loud and clear: The network doesn’t want to hear from anyone who doesn’t share its anchors’ elitist worldview.
Santorum represented one of the last remaining voices of divergence and dissent at the nation’s third-most-popular cable news network — and that was one too many.
To those with eyes to see, the former U.S. senator’s firing looked inevitable. CNN’s viewers had long targeted the conservative Catholic for his outspoken defense of life, marriage, strong borders, and faith. “Santorum was long a lightning rod at CNN,” admitted Brian Stelter, the host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” when the network finally reported the termination.
Santorum’s firing represents the legacy media’s decision to renege on their brief, shining moment of clarity: They’re completely out of touch with the average American.
After the 2016 election shocked the media — who are based almost exclusively in Washington and New York — its executives promised to go on reconnaissance in the heartland. A series of pundits and prognosticators said they had become estranged from everyone outside their bubble and vowed to get to know the people again. “If I have a mea culpa for journalists and journalism, it’s that we’ve got to do a much better job of being on the road, out in the country, talking to different kinds of people than the people we talk to … and remind ourselves that New York is not the real world,” said Dean Baquet, an editor at the New York Times.
To that end, a few outlets promised to feature more conservative voices on the air. In 2017, Rick Santorum joined CNN. Who better to interpret Outside-the-Beltway America to the media than Rick Santorum, a two-time U.S. senator from the swing state of Pennsylvania, whose blue-collar brand of conservatism provided much of the policy embraced by Donald Trump in 2016?
Perhaps this would be the first stage of those “national conversations” the Left are always inviting us to have?
Instead, the legacy media embraced its role as the PR engine of the #Resistance. That meant wall-to-wall coverage of the Russian dossier, baseless insistence that the election had been stolen through “collusion” with a foreign power, and vapid assurances that “the walls are closing in” on Donald Trump. Anyone who disagreed with their agenda likely took his walking orders from the Kremlin.
After making a commitment to understand grassroots voters, CNN progressively shed conservative commentators Jeffrey Lord, Paris Dennard, and Jason Miller. Ed Martin lasted just four months. Upon hearing the news, his fellow Republican CNN pundit, Ana Navarro, tweeted, “Bye. Fe-Li-Cia.”
— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) January 19, 2018
Santorum’s real sin was that he made the network look as elitist, misguided, and fact-challenged as it is. He regularly won the debate while outnumbered three-to-one as the network’s token conservative. He once made Chris Cuomo disagree with the notion that an unborn child in the womb “is human and alive.” The network tried to settle the score by posting his fellow panelists’ angry retorts and personal insults. Viewers blanched if he gave President Trump credit for any of his achievements.
Santorum’s success so infuriated viewers that even token representation of dissent proved too much. Punishing him for his off-the-cuff remarks at a speech, while letting its own guests and hosts indict 74 million Americans as potential domestic terrorists, should give up the game: From now on, CNN purges dissenting voices.
Santorum’s ouster leaves CNN with significantly less intellectual diversity. “CNN has scores of paid contributors who bring point of view and insight in many different fields,” wrote Stelter.
But CNN’s guests all repeat the exact same talking points.
Many of CNN’s remaining Republican commentators endorsed Joe Biden before the 2020 election, including Ana Navarro, John Kasich, Charlie Dent, Amanda Carpenter, S.E. Cupp, and Miles Taylor.
Getting rid of Rick Santorum shows that CNN plans to traverse the full expanse of the ideological spectrum between former Maoists (like the aforementioned Van Jones) to Republicans willing to agree that the current GOP is the focus of evil in the modern world.
Ironically, CNN fired Santorum for his political beliefs after it spent the last three weeks obsessing over Liz Cheney’s removal from her House Republican leadership post, a move its anchors equated with a near-fascist aversion to ideological dissent.
“It’s clear that the current Republican Party seems to have no room at this point for anyone who speaks out,” groused John Berman on May 3, just hours before Santorum’s final appearance on the network. A week later, Erin Burnett asked Van Jones, “Is there room in the Republican Party for anyone who’s against former President Trump?” As far back as February, CNN correspondent Abby Phillip told Wolf Blitzer, that “there is no room in the Republican Party right now for people who are not willing to back Donald Trump up on virtually anything.”
Brooking dissent is for thee, but not for me.
“When I was [at] CNN I heard [c]ommentators call ICE agents ‘slave traders’ & all Trump supporters ‘racists,’ and nobody on the Left was ever disciplined,” tweeted Jason Miller, who is now at Newsmax. “Ever.”
When I was @CNN I heard Commentators call ICE agents “slave traders” & all Trump supporters “racists,” and nobody on the Left was ever disciplined.
— Jason Miller (@JasonMillerinDC) May 23, 2021
In CNN’s alternate reality, there’s room for people of all party labels, as long as they’re willing to hew to the network’s party line.
Governor Andrew Cuomo once said that pro-life, pro-family, pro-Second Amendment conservatives have “no place in the state of New York.” Now, CNN is taking the same line in Atlanta. Maybe the advice on his calls with Chris Cuomo goes both ways.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.