Earlier this month, the partial deposition of former Trump campaign aide Jason Miller was released as part of his ongoing lawsuit against Gizmodo Media. Buried on Page 363 is yet another revelation about how cable news networks have handled the ethical quandary of hiring and booking pro-Trump contributors and guests who legally cannot disparage the president because of nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) they signed while working for him.
CNN senior editorial producer Christie Johnson “told me that the NDA thing was basically all puffery, that nobody’s status was at all in danger and that nothing would ever happen. They just feel like they have to go and say on the air that — that we had signed it just to cover their — cover their rear ends.”
Last September, CNN told The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi that the network discloses to viewers when paid contributors such as Miller have NDAs. CNN did not respond to requests for comment from The Fix.
CNN’s paid contributors are required to disclose potential conflicts to the network, meaning that either Miller did not disclose to CNN that he had signed an NDA, or CNN chose not to disclose it at times to viewers. In Miller’s telling, he disclosed that he signed one but was assured that his contributor status was not at risk because of it.
Last year, The Fix also identified at least 15 guests and paid contributors who had appeared on the five major news networks since 2017 and who had signed NDAs. In August 2018, news networks booked at least 11 Trump associates no fewer than 89 times who admitted to signing NDAs. Most were not disclosed when they appeared on air.
Last September, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo raised the NDA issue on air with Miller for the first time in Miller’s 18-month stint with CNN.
“I did sign a nondisclosure agreement with the campaign … but what I did not sign is something that prohibits me from voicing my opinion,” Miller said. “And so, for the past year and a half, as I’ve had the opportunity to come on CNN, I’m always going to give it to you straight. And so, I can voice my opinion however I want, whenever I want.”
Paul Farhi contributed to this report.