Let’s take a look at that resume, shall we? Lost a major election? Check. Has a serious reliance on racial politics? That’s a check. Under investigation for ethics violations that would shame most people? Check, with a Capital “C”. OK -- looks great -- you're hired, Mr. Gillum. Welcome to CNN.
Andrew Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee, has confirmed it himself. He's struck a deal with CNN to become a regular on-air contributor. The mayor tweeted out his statement of the hiring on Tuesday: "Thrilled to be joining @CNN as a political commentator," was his brevity-laden note.
This announcement comes directly after the news that Gillum has become a deeper point of focus in the ongoing probe of ethics violations in the Florida capital. On Monday state officials announced they were moving on ethics complaints surrounding Gillum, finding probable cause on five counts that he violated ethics laws in 2016 regarding accepting favors from lobbyists. There is also the FBI investigation into activities in Tallahassee, which -- yes -- involve the mayor.
Despite the electoral flaws and the dark cloud hanging over his name and political career, Gillum is regarded as a hot commodity. His name has been frequently floated as a possible/probable running mate for a Democratic candidate in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. Despite his recent loss, he has value. Florida being a swing state, and Gillum possessing a fresh list of voter emails and donor rolls, he is a political asset many candidates covet.
Andrew Gillum’s opening segment took place at 9 p.m. Tuesday, at which time he sat in with Andrew Cuomo on his primetime program.
Many questions now rise in response to this news. The supposed impartiality of the news network comes into question (again). First off, there is the questionable perception of giving free airtime to a potential candidate on a potential presidential campaign. The same network recently signed John Kasich to a similar deal to appear on the air. Kasich has hinted at his own run in 2020, either as a GOP challenger or an independent candidate. Can it not be seen as granting media favors to these players in the next election?
Of additional interest is wondering just how forward will the network be regarding any developments in the Gillum ethics investigation, and the FBI probe? Will it be forthcoming should bad news break concerning a member of its on air talent? How deeply will CNN investigate, and how willing will the network be to subject one of its own to criticism?
It may seem wrong-headed to take on a political figure with both a checkered resume and serious charges facing him. But this is the contemporary era of journalism. Traditional press standards are malleable and objective news reporting is a fluid definition in the eyes of the networks and other news outlets. The only ones who take these terms seriously anymore are the folks in the the audience.
Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.