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CNN has long been associated with the so-called pro-Trump contributors that the network hired to give voice to the president’s supporters, but this group of pundits is thinning by the week.
Jack Kingston, a former congressman from Georgia, and Andre Bauer, the onetime lieutenant governor of South Carolina, did not have their contributor contracts renewed, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Bauer’s deal ended last Friday, and he said he did not ask why the network did not offer him a chance to renew after three years with the company. “I am very thankful for the opportunity CNN gave me,” Bauer said in an email. “The silent majority in our country feel like they do not have a voice in politics or the media. I have tried to express many of their feelings and why they supported Donald Trump.”
Kingston has been a lightning rod for controversy, attracting ridicule for suggesting in February 2018 that the Parkland High School students who planned an anti-gun violence rally were taken advantage of by “left-wing gun control activists,” even suggesting that conservative bogeyman George Soros was in cahoots with the group. “I would say to you very plainly that organized groups that are out there like George Soros are always ready to take up the charge,” he said on air.
The network also chose not to renew the contributor contracts of former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, a Democrat, and legal analyst Page Pate.
A CNN source said the network is always adding new contributors and choosing not to renew contributors, calling it “the natural churn of contributors.”
The departure of Kingston and Bauer is notable because the network has cut ties with several other conservative contributors who largely defended the president’s perspective, including Jason Miller, Paris Dennard, Jeffrey Lord and Ed Martin, all for different reasons. Bryan Lanza, who served as deputy communications director for Trump’s presidential campaign, told THR that he left his role as a CNN contributor in May. Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski resigned from the network in November 2016.
On the other hand, the network has recently hired prominent elected Republicans as contributors, including former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Utah Congresswoman Mia Love.
While the network source disagreed with this contention, a conservative operative speculated that CNN is changing their contributor strategy and moving away from employing “real, consistent Trump supporters.”
Asked whether CNN is selling Trump voters short by cutting ties with the president’s defenders, Bauer said, “They know their demographics better than I do.”
The network’s more left-leaning viewers are known to groan loudly online when Trump-supporting contributors appear on air. “Judging by my social media each time I did a hit for them, they were probably right,” Bauer said.
However, even though Kingston is no longer a paid contributor, that doesn’t mean he won’t appear on CNN again. During an appearance on Saturday to talk about border security, he was identified only as a “former senior adviser to the Trump campaign.”
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