Ken Cuccinelli's On-Air Clashes Are a Problem for CNN

CNN Ken Cuccinelli Panel - Screenshot - H 2018

The CNN legal commentator has been criticized for being dismissive toward his female colleagues.

As a legal commentator for CNN, Ken Cuccinelli can provide value for his employer by leaning on his background as a lawyer in private practice and his four years as Virginia's attorney general to discuss complicated legal subjects. But he's also making headlines for being dismissive toward his female colleagues while on air.

On Tuesday night, during a heated discussion about immigration policy on Don Lemon's show, Cuccinelli told CNN contributor Ana Navarro, "I’m sick and tired of listening to your shrill voice in my ears." (Lemon, who was anchoring for the first time since the sudden passing of his sister last week, gently admonished Cuccinelli for his treatment of Navarro. "I don't think she's shrill," he said. "Come on, Ken.")

In August, Cuccinelli told Symone Sanders, a CNN contributor, to "shut up for a minute and let me finish." Chris Cuomo, who was hosting the segment, said, "Ken, you don't want to use language like that when you're talking to Symone. … We don't talk to people like that on this show."

At the time, Sanders was diplomatic, and told The Hollywood Reporter that she "won't have a problem speaking up" were she to be matched up against Cuccinelli on the air again.

A spokesperson for CNN has not responded to a question about Cuccinelli's Tuesday night comments, and did not respond when asked about his treatment of Sanders last summer. A message sent to Cuccinelli through the Senate Conservatives Fund he leads was not returned by press time. A source at the network said that Cuccinelli's outburst was not surprising.

Last month, CNN cut ties with another conservative contributor, Ed Martin, who had spoken negatively about some of his CNN colleagues on his radio show. (The network did not provide an official explanation for his separation.)