Op-Ed: CBS News giving Mick Mulvaney a paid contributor gig is an act of journalistic malpractice

Former acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney answers questions during a briefing at the White House in 2019.
(Win McNamee / Getty Images)

From mid-December 2018 through early March 2020, Mick Mulvaney, a former member of Congress from South Carolina, served as President Trump’s acting chief of staff.

On Mulvaney’s watch, the White House took a wrecking ball to checks and balances by vowing to defy all congressional subpoenas.

On Mulvaney’s watch, the Trump administration launched an unconstitutional attack against the process to conduct a fair census.


On Mulvaney’s watch, at least 25 administration officials received security clearances that should not have been granted based on the recommendations of intelligence officials.

On Mulvaney’s watch, Trump ignored numerous warnings from health experts about the severity of the coronavirus. More than 970,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

And yet, in spite of this record, CBS News made the decision to reward Mulvaney with a gig as a paid contributor. I’d expect this move from a Trump-aligned propaganda medium like Fox News. But from CBS News? Give me a break.

A so-called balanced treatment by journalists of the actions of Democrats and Republicans is a complete distortion of reality.

Oct. 15, 2021

It’s as if the power-that-be at the network learned nothing from a tumultuous presidency that culminated with insurrectionists attacking the U.S. Capitol. The very people who rode shotgun in the effort to dismantle democracy are being rewarded with book deals, guest-host roles on TV shows and more. Let’s be clear: Democracy doesn’t die in darkness, it dies because of stuff like this.

Many White House officials, Republican and Democratic, have gone on to significant roles at mainstream media outlets after leaving their government positions. But Mulvaney stands out for the wrong reasons. He acted as an architect of democracy’s demise, and he should not be legitimized by being affiliated with a major news network. Neither should anyone else who committed treason behind government doors.

Exposing the American people to such pathological liars and despots is an act of journalistic malpractice. What allowed Trumpism to rise in the first place was the media’s misguided notion that “both sides” deserve equal airing and footing even when one side is flagrantly violating the law and lying.


CBS’ decision is even more disappointing when you consider the state of global affairs and the role that Mulvaney played in shaping them. As the Washington Post reported in the fall of 2019, “President Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to hold back almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine at least a week before a phone call in which Trump is said to have pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate the son of former vice president Joe Biden, according to three senior administration officials.”

CBS News is acting as the reputation launderer for a member of the White House Cabinet who was central to the scheme to extort from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Is that really the type of commentator or analyst that an audience can trust?

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney tied himself in a knot on Fox News Sunday. Again.

Oct. 21, 2019

When he appears, will CBS News anchors question Mulvaney about his actions? Will they grill him about the anti-democratic and legally questionable directives he acted on? Will they ask him about the actions of his niece, Maggie Mulvaney, who was a “VIP Lead” for the “rally”-turned-insurrection, and who was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 House Select Committee last fall? Or will they present him as a respectable “former acting White House chief of staff” and allow him to just deliver anti-Biden talking points?

We all know the answer to that one.

It just goes to show, even if you are willing to sell out America, fame can still trump everything. And major “news” organizations such as CBS will be on the other side, offering your reward.

Kurt Bardella is an advisor to the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He is a former senior advisor for Republicans on the House Oversight Committee. He is a contributing writer to Opinion. @KurtBardella.