A lot of bad and tense things happened at the Harvard Institute of Politics Forum, where top aides from each presidential campaign have met since 1972 to conduct a frank post-mortem and this year mostly just screamed at each other. One thing that’s getting a bit forgotten in the tumult: former CNN employee and permanent Trump barnacle Corey Lewandowski thinks the editor of the New York Times “should be in jail” for publishing an excerpt of Trump’s tax returns.
The Times published pages from Trump’s 1995 tax returns in October, after they were mailed to reporter Suzanne Craig by an anonymous source. Neither Craig nor the Times did anything illegal whatsoever in publishing the documents, and in fact did the country a pretty enormous favor by pointing out that a presidential candidate has, in all likelihood, not paid federal income taxes in a very long time.
Nonetheless, as Time wrote, Lewandowski is just outraged, directing his ire at NYT editor Dean Baquet:
Lewandowski said New York Times editor Dean Baquet, who told a separate Harvard audience that he would risk jail time to publish Trump’s tax returns. “He’s willing to commit a felony,” Lewandowski said. “It’s egregious. He should be in jail.”
Donald Trump has previously expressed an interest in “opening up” libel laws so he can sue reporters more easily, but now I guess we’re openly talking about jailing reporters too.
Meanwhile, Politico reports that at the same forum, CNN president Jeff Zucker got roundly jeered by campaign staffers who worked for other Republican candidates for airing wall-to-wall Trump coverage and for hiring Lewandowski. (Lewandowski, of course, worked as a paid commentator for the network for a few months after leaving the Trump campaign in the wake of an incident where reporter Michelle Fields accused him of battery. He was not criminally charged.)
Lewandowski was still receiving severance from the Trump campaign, and now works for Donald Trump again, and was just obviously biased in every possible way, all of which Zucker refused to acknowledge, per Politico:
Zucker was also blasted by journalists when he tried to defend CNN’s decision to hire Lewandowski while he was still receiving severance from the campaign.
Lewandowski seized the microphone from the questioner, who broached the topic, in a bid to defend himself, allowing the student to finish asking it, but insisting he was adding value to the CNN airwaves.
Zucker said Lewandowski was a “good investment and decision,” as Lewandowski clapped and the rest of the room remained silent.
“If we could do that over again I would have asked that would have been paid [his severance] in full on the day we hired him,” Zucker said.
A question for the group: is Lewandowski the purest example of failing upwards that currently exists? Is he merely a testament to the places mediocre white men can go with no particular effort? Will any of this ever be bleakly funny again, or can I expect these rage paroxysms to continue forever?