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Mick Mulvaney, then-acting White House chief of staff, laughed in the East Room of the White House on February 6, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

'A New Low': CBS News Slammed for Hiring Mick Mulvaney as Contributor

"Are you going to ask him about his role in withholding aid to Ukraine until Zelenskyy agreed to smear Biden?"

Jessica Corbett

CBS News faced a firestorm of criticism Tuesday for making Mick Mulvaney a contributor, with one opponent calling the network's decision to hire the ex-aide of former President Donald Trump "a new low."

"Mulvaney is a discredited liar and crackpot."

Introducing Mulvaney to discuss President Joe Biden's proposal to tax rich Americans, anchor Anne-Marie Green said: "He's a former Office of Management and Budget director and today I am pleased to welcome him as a CBS News contributor. So happy to have you here. Thank you so much. You're the guy to ask about this."

Some journalists, media critics, progressives, and others familiar with the former Republican congressman's track record in the Trump administration—during which he also served as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, acting White House chief of staff, and U.S. special envoy for Northern Ireland—disagreed.

"Normalizing the villains," tweeted podcast host and writer Bob Cesca. "You mean there's no one else who's capable of talking about this crap, CBS?"

Seth Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, also responded on Twitter.

"There are plenty of conservative budget experts who (1) chose not to serve as an apologist and lackey for the racist-in-chief, (2) have integrity, and (3) aren't clueless hacks who once wrote a budget with a $2 trillion math error," he said. "Shame on [CBS News]."

Matt Gertz, a senior fellow at Media Matters for America, wrote Tuesday that CBS "rehabilitating" one of Trump's "cronies" is not only an "embarrassment" but also a risk to "its credibility."

Pod Save America co-host Dan Pfeiffer similarly said that "this is embarrassing for every journalist that works at CBS. Mulvaney is a discredited liar and crackpot, but the yahoos that run the network think this hire will make the right stop attacking them as 'liberally biased.' (It won't.)"

The network "has plenty of actual business journalists and if I were one of them right now I'd be livid," said writer Christopher Ingraham, adding that he was "frankly dumbfounded" by the hire.

"Neither Mulvaney's extensive roles in the Trump administration, nor his time as a GOP member of Congress and co-founder of the Freedom Caucus, are ever mentioned," Ingraham highlighted. "He's introduced simply as "former OMB director and CBS News contributor."

While CBS failed to detail Mulvaney's past roles and related controversies, those outraged by his new job wasted no time filling in the blanks, including when he—while serving as chief of staff—admitted to reporters in October 2019 that the Trump White House withheld military aid to pressure the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to launch a probe targeting Democrats, which critics at the time called "a quid pro quo."

"Mick Mulvaney is Donald Trump's former chief of staff who openly bragged about freezing $400 million in assistance to Ukraine and then defied a congressional subpoena. He was THE key figure in Trump's first impeachment," tweeted Jeremy Slevin, a staffer for Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). "His punishment? A plush contributor gig with CBS News!"

Gertz pointed out that Mulvaney's comment on the quid pro quo was: "Get over it."

Also highlighting Mulvaney's admission about the attempt to force a "bogus investigation" and Trump's first impeachment, investigative reporter Jordan Fischer said that it is "absolutely disturbed to try to rehabilitate Mulvaney right now," amid Russia's war on Ukraine.

"Why not have him comment on Ukraine?" Fischer asked. "He can identify which of the armaments they're using to fight for their lives his boss withheld in an attempt to corrupt our democracy."

Esquire senior staff writer Jack Holmes had a similar question for CBS: "Are you going to ask him about his role in withholding aid to Ukraine until Zelenskyy agreed to smear Biden?"

"Outlets that are trying to be reputable shouldn't pay liars to lie and spread bad-faith right-wing propaganda."

Referencing the January 6, 2021 attack that led to Trump's historic second impeachment, Holmes added: "We now invite Mick Mulvaney on to discuss these revelations. Mick—what do you think your old boss was up to while the Capitol was getting sacked by his fanboys?"

Warren Gunnels, majority staff director for Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), noted other parts of Mulvaney's past on Capitol Hill, including that "in 2009, Mulvaney supported an amendment declaring that Social Security and Medicaid 'are directly in violation of the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.'"

"As Trump's budget director, he wanted to repeal the estate tax which would only benefit the top 0.2%," Gunnels said, concluding with a sarcastic quip: "Brilliant move, CBS."

In a series of tweets featuring clips of Mulvaney from the Trump era, journalist Aaron Rupar said that "the point of journalism is to inform people. Outlets that are trying to be reputable shouldn't pay liars to lie and spread bad-faith right-wing propaganda. Shame on [CBS]."

"Mick Mulvaney lied to us for four years to advance the cause of authoritarianism, and now we're supposed to take seriously his analysis of Biden's economic policies?" he added. "Hardest of hard passes."

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