Speed Reads

mixed messages

CNN defends GOP contributor Sean Duffy as CNN hosts keep slamming his Vindman loyalty comments

Former Rep. Sean Duffy's (R-Wis.) short tenure at CNN has been pretty rocky. It reached new levels of awkwardness Tuesday when CNN hosts kept showing his comments from Tuesday morning about National Security Council official and Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman — and slamming them in no uncertain terms.

Vindman, who gave pretty damaging testimony about President Trump's interactions with Ukraine at a House impeachment deposition Tuesday, emigrated from Soviet Ukraine to the U.S. at age 3. Duffy questioned Vindman's loyalties on CNN's New Day, and New Day host John Berman started criticizing his comments almost immediately.

CNN anchor Brianna Keilar played Duffy's comments again Tuesday afternoon. "That is some anti-immigrant bigotry," she said, "and it's an odd questioning of patriotism coming from Sean Duffy, the guy who spent part of his 20s on MTV's The Real World and Real World/Road Rules Challenge while Alexander Vindman spent his on foreign deployments, including one to Iraq where he earned a Purple Heart after he was injured by a roadside bomb."

CNN's Chris Cuomo piled on Tuesday night. "Look, I know Duffy, Duffy is better than that, and he should show it — our president is not," he said. Trump "cannot fight the facts in this situation and neither can his friends. What he did asking Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and the DNC was wrong, arguably illegal, obviously abusive of his power."

Duffy tried to walk back his comments, tweeting that Vindman is "an American war hero" but "an unelected adviser" to Trump. CNN Vice President Rebecca Kutler told Politico that "having people who support the president's policies" is part of CNN's goal of representing "all points of view," and Duffy can "share with our audience what's important to the voters he's represented and how that will impact the 2020 election." CNN chief Jeff Zucker was a little more direct. "It is hard to find people who will come on and support the president's point of view," he said at a conference last Thursday. "We need these voices."