You don’t know of the Washington Generals? They are the “professional” basketball team that played exhibition games against the Harlem Globetrotter and LOST EVERY GAME. But! They weren’t playing to win (or even compete.) They showed up only so fans could enjoy the Globetrotters’ basketball hijinks without an opponent…that always lost.
Which brings us to CNN panelist Jeffrey Lord.
If you’ve watched CNN recently you’ve seen a lot of Trump surrogate Jeffrey Lord opining in what increasingly feels like a man taking a final stand with little to lose before surrender. When he’s not providing a full-throated and many times banal defense of President Trump, he is often debating a fellow panelist discussing something he said on a previous evening. Even the hosts seem to be fed up.
Take for example his illogically defensive approach of Trump’s critique of London Mayor Sadiq Kahn by saying that, then NYC Mayor, Rudy Giuliani is also open to criticism for the attacks of 9/11. Yup, that really happened.
Or, consider his previous labeling of President Trump as the “MLK of health care.” It was at once a hackneyed and insensitive comparison. But the comment had legs — not just evidenced by the impressive traffic that the particular Mediaite post received — but also by the numerous times it was covered in the following day — on CNN!
CNN’s bread and butter has always been covering big breaking news stories like elections, disasters or the occasional missing airplane. But lately, when they are not covering breaking news, CNN has turned almost exclusively into the very political panels that are souped-up versions of the original CNN debate show, Crossfire.
It, of course, featured a young Tucker Carlson and a savvy Paul Begala, and it was the show that Jon Stewart famously said “was hurting America.” Well, current CNN shows aren’t hurting America, nor are they making us dumber (as some have foolishly suggested.) But many of these daily discussions could be smarter. Much smarter. And the first step in having a good, spicy but informed debate is booking pro-Trump pundits that are better than the current team we see day in day out.
Lord seems by every measure like he’d make a delightful guest at a dinner party. His convivial mien suits him well on these panel discussions, as frankly, he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously. Not a class clown, but plays the role that seems written only to make the other characters appear smarter. And boy, does he do that.
The cable news patsy is not a new role. It’s just that some are better than others, and CNN’s problem is finding a smart, willing actor to play the part. Think of Alan Colmes when he was on Fox News. Jay Sekulow showed so much promise in his defense of Trump recently, that he upset the AC360 apple cart, in a most entertaining — and less mind-dumbing — way.
CNN President Jeff Zucker has gone on record on how enjoys the unfolding narrative that is consistently on display on his channel, and in his defense, CNN’s ratings — and water-cooler conversation relevance — both appear to be way up. CNN’s irrelevance for most of the past decade may simply be relative to the soft bigotry of low expectations.
Speaking of…Mr. Lord is no longer a Trump surrogate who moderates and Democrats most love to vilify. For that, there needs to be some meat on the bones, an actual intellectual threat. Lord’s goofy defenses hardly fit the bill and CNN viewers can rightly expect more. . .even those who just want to love to hate.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.