CNN banned Roger Stone last year after the informal adviser to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump directed racist tweets at two of the network's on-air personalities. Yet on Thursday morning, Stone was on the set of “New Day” for an interview with CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.
Stone discussed his relationship with President Trump and denied colluding with Russia to meddle in the election.
“They can call me a dirty trickster,” he said, “but there's one trick that's not in my bag: treason.”
A CNN spokeswoman told The Fix via email that “his appearance on 'New Day' was an exception. He was on for news value.”
Indeed, Stone is an irrepressible figure in the news these days. He is among the Trump associates being investigated by the FBI for ties to Russia. Despite being fired from — or quitting, depending on whom you ask — the campaign in 2015, Stone remained in Trump's orbit and says that he and the president still “talk from time to time.”
In fact, CNN and Politico reported Wednesday that Stone advised Trump to fire James B. Comey as FBI director. Trump denied those reports on Twitter, but Stone has insinuated in multiple interviews that they are true.
“I'm not the source of those reports,” he told Infowars founder Alex Jones on Wednesday. “But, Alex, I have spoken about this. I have talked about it. I have been calling for Mr. Comey's firing now for months.”
The Roger Stone report on @CNN is false - Fake News. Have not spoken to Roger in a long time - had nothing to do with my decision.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
Stone's apparent influence makes him virtually impossible to ignore. CNN might not want to put him on TV, but if Stone's counsel carries weight in the White House — even a little — he is newsworthy.
MSNBC appears to have reached the same conclusion. Like CNN, MSNBC blacklisted Stone last year; a network spokeswoman told me in April 2016 that “Roger Stone will not be a guest on MSNBC because of his now very well-known offensive comments.”
Yet Chuck Todd interviewed Stone on “MTP Daily” last month, questioning the Republican operative about connections to Russia, which Stone denied. Chris Hayes also interviewed Stone in February.
Much to the media's chagrin, Stone is having a moment right now. He matters. He matters because he has the FBI's attention and the president's ear.