NEW YORK CITY — Jeffrey Lord says he views his role as a CNN commentator a little like being a lawyer for Donald Trump — and, he says, that’s how CNN wants it.
Lord discussed his role as a Trump defender in the latest episode of “The Jamie Weinstein Show” podcast, where he also defended Trump from #NeverTrump criticism, discussed his thoughts on the media’s role in Trump’s nomination, explained how he disagrees without being disagreeable and much more.
- How his love affair with Donald Trump began (3:25)
- His initial thoughts when Trump entered the presidential race (13:54)
- Why Trump has some similarities to Winston Churchill (18:42)
- Lord attempts to rebut the #NeverTrump case against The Donald (24:10)
- How he got his job at CNN and he sees his role (35:18)
- How the media have covered Trump (47:19)
- On what happens if Trump loses to the GOP (51:50)
- On disagreeing without being disagreeable (59:52)
- On his influences (1:03:37)
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“Well, it’s sort of evolved into that, hasn’t it?” Lord said when asked if he viewed his role at CNN as being a lawyer for Trump, as opposed to being an intellectually honest commentator.
While Lord said he feels free to occasionally disagree with Trump — like he did when Trump suggested CNN was unfair to him — he says CNN wants him to defend Trump at nearly every turn.
“I understand in a campaign season that they want people to prosecute the case for these candidates and now we’re down to two,” he explained.
Trump is actually responsible for Lord getting plucked out of relative obscurity to become a CNN commentator, according to Lord. Trump and Lord, who lives in rural Pennsylvania where he cares for his 90-something year old mother, first began to develop a relationship after the conservative author wrote a glowing column about Trump for the American Spectator in 2013. Trump soon began to court Lord, calling him on the phone, flying him on his plane and ultimately recommending CNN bring him on the network to defend Trump.
After an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Lord says Trump complained about all the conservatives CNN had on to attack him.
“Trump as I’m told says, ‘Every time you have me on, you follow me up with all the Bush guys who hate me. Why don’t you ever put somebody on there who likes me?'” Lord explained, relaying how he got his current gig. When Cooper asked who Trump would recommend, The Donald said Jeffrey Lord.
“I am sitting at home completely unaware of all this,” Lord went on. “All of a sudden the phone starts ringing from CNN, can I call into — I think it was Brooke Baldwin’s show. ‘Sure, I’d do that,’ and I hang up. They call again, well, now can I Skype or something? ‘Well, with a little help, yeah, I could figure that out.’ Then they call back and say, ‘Well, can you come on tonight in a local studio there, the PBS studio, and we’ll satellite in.’ ‘Yes.’ I did that for two weeks and then CNN called and said, ‘We’d like you to come work for us.'”
Does Lord worry that if Trump loses, CNN will cut ties with all those commentators they hired to defend Trump at every turn? He says “no,” because he feels that they will need Trumpian voices to explain the fight that will inevitably take place within the GOP after such a loss.
“I think there’s going to be all sorts of turmoil [if Hillary Clinton gets elected], but one way or another, they’re going to want to have voices on from each area of” the GOP, Lord explained.
Many people think CNN and other networks helped propel Trump to the Republican nomination by giving him far more airtime than other candidates, even carrying his primary stump speeches live on a regular basis. Lord doesn’t buy it.
“The American people aren’t stupid,” he argued. “I mean, you could put 100 hours a week of Ron Paul on there or Gary Johnson, to update this, if the American people don’t like it, they’re not buying it.”
“They’re going to put people on there who are going to get ratings for them and if they find that person A gets them and person B doesn’t, sure, there’s that kind of bias, but let’s remember that Donald Trump is not the first person to be nominated for president,” he continued. “Anybody who runs for president and starts to get some success — Jimmy Carter — the networks are all over him. That’s just the way it evolves. So I just think this is a bogus thing because it implies that in essence that CNN made Donald Trump and I don’t believe that for two seconds. I think Donald Trump had the right message. The American people got it and they responded to it.”