On one level, it serves CNN right. Just before noon Friday, the 24/7 news network was airing its umpteenth segment on the dispute between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz over their wives. To properly triangulate this topic, CNN invited Adriana Cohen, a Trump supporter and Boston Herald columnist, as well as Amanda Carpenter, a former Cruz aide and current Cruz supporter.
After some rote discussion of the wives stuff, Cohen hijacked the segment. Responding to a question about whether she was ready for Trump to “move on” from the feud, Cohen said, “Where we should move to is the National Enquirer story that has reported that Ted Cruz has allegedly had affairs with at least five mistresses, including, you’ve been named, Amanda.” Instant replay reveals that, yes, what was slated as a ho-hum cable-news panel turned into an allegation that one of the panelists had slept with a major presidential contender. And it wasn’t even noon yet.
CNN host Kate Bolduan scolded, “I don’t think that’s moving on at all, Adriana.”
Crosstalk ensued, and Bolduan stopped the festivities cold. It was time make a solemn declaration: “Let me just be very clear. . . . CNN has no reporting on what you’re talking about coming from the National Enquirer.” Then came Carpenter’s turn to blast back. She called the National Enquirer report “tabloid trash. If someone wants to comment on it, they can talk to my lawyer. It is categorically false. You should be ashamed for spreading this kind of smut. Donald Trump supporters should be held to account for it. . . . And I am not backing down.” Bolduan lamented, “I’ve spent now two shows talking about this back-and-forth.”
Consider the adjacencies here. CNN was talking to these two women about a political spat involving an ad that showcased Trump’s wife in the raw. Ticked off, Trump sent an ill-tempered tweet at Cruz threatening to “spill the beans” about his wife, Heidi, even though Cruz had nothing to do with the ad that started the whole thing. The timeline continued as Trump sent a sexist tweet comparing the looks of Heidi Cruz with those of his own wife, Melania. The real estate mogul displayed awful behavior throughout the episode. And in seeking to brush back Trump, Cruz called him a “sniveling coward.”
And guess what. A discussion on cable news of that incident — involving nudity and loathing — segued into a report about sexual infidelity in a prominent tabloid — a report that The Post, too, hasn’t substantiated. When the conversation starts in the gutter, it tends to stay in the gutter. A tabloidy dispute gives way to a tabloid dispute.
And who would have thought: A Trump supporter’s editorial standards aren’t consistent with CNN’s editorial standards! For more on CNN’s efforts to ensure representation of Trumpian ideals on its airwaves, please see this post.
Though Bolduan helpfully caveatted the National Enquirer report, she might have noted that the publication barged its way into eligibility for a Pulitzer Prize in 2010 following its widely celebrated scoops on John Edwards’s mistress and child.