This Is CNN: 15 Embarrassing Network Moments in 2021

People walk outside CNN Center, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, in Atlanta. CNN is now screening
AP Photo/Ron Harris

Fifteen embarrassing moments in 2021 rocked CNN, the self-identified “most trusted name in news” network owned by Ted Turner.

1.) CNN Contributor States the World Needs Another Hitler  

CNN contributor Adeel Raja posted in a now-deleted tweet in May that “the world today needs a Hitler.”

Before it was deleted, a screen capture of the tweet showed it was liked 428 times and quote/retweeted over 200 times:

2.) Jeffrey Toobin Returns

After seven months, Jeffrey Toobin returned to CNN in June after he was caught by a colleague at the New Yorker Magazine masturbating on a Zoom call.

Though Toobin was fired by the magazine after 27 years of working with the publication, CNN allowed him back on the air for an interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota.

“What the hell were you thinking?” Camerota asked Toobin.

“Obviously, I wasn’t thinking very well or very much,” he responded, noting he thought the seven month probationary punishment for masturbating in front of colleges “was excessive.”

“Many of us have really missed having your legal analysis on our programs,” Camerota confessed, “so let me be the first to welcome you back.”

“I’ve got a lot to rebuild,” Toobin explained. “But I feel very privileged and very lucky that I have the opportunity to do that.”

3.) David Chalian Claims National Mall’s Lights Are Extensions of Joe Biden’s Arms Embracing America 

Days before President Biden took the oath of office, CNN’s David Chalian gushed over lighting decorations that he believed were “extensions of Joe Biden’s arms embracing America.”

Chalian heralded a National Mall ceremony that paid tribute to 400,000 Americans who lost their lives to the coronavirus. The ceremony’s decorations included lights along the mall’s reflection pool.

“The contrast on display tonight was so stark, I mean those lights that are just shooting out of the Lincoln Memorial along the Reflecting Pool, it’s like almost extensions of Joe Biden’s arms embracing America,” Chalian compared Biden to Donald Trump.

“It was a moment where the new president came to town and sort of convened the country in this moment of remembrance, outstretching his arms,” Chalian continued to gush. “And contrast that with the video you just saw of a disgraced president, on his way out, at his lowest point in his presidency, at the very end here, by himself, fighting for his political movement to live on.”

4.) Dr. Sanjay Gupta Questioned by Joe Rogan Why CNN Lied About Him Taking A “Livestock Drug”

CNN’s Gupta sat for an October interview with Joe Rogan and was questioned why CNN lied about Rogan taking a “livestock drug” to treat coronavirus. Gupta could not defend CNN and admitted the network “shouldn’t have done that.”

“By the way, I’m glad you’re better,” Gupta initiated the spat.

“Thank you. You’re probably the only one at CNN who’s glad … The rest of them are all lying about me taking horse medication,” Rogan replied about a treatment called ivermectin.

“It’s a lie,” Rogan continued. “It’s a lie on a news network … and it’s a lie that they’re conscious of. It’s not a mistake. They’re unfavorably framing it as veterinary medicine.”

“It can be used for humans! I get it,” Gupta said.

“Not just could be used for humans, is often used for humans along with all the other drugs that I took. All human drugs,” Rogan continued to press. “They know it’s a human drug and they lied. It’s defamatory.”

“Yeah, they shouldn’t have done that,” Gupta admitted CNN’s mistake. “I don’t know if it’s defamatory.”

5.) Chris Cuomo’s ‘Love-a-Thon’ Interviews with Andrew Cuomo

Erik Wemple, a Washington Post reporter, called out the Cuomo brothers on CNN for their “love-a-thon” interviews during the pandemic.

The interview occurred while former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) allegedly covered up nursing home coronavirus deaths. Andrew Cuomo later resigned over sexual harassment allegations that implicated his brother and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.

As a result, Chris Cuomo was fired in December for his “involvement with his brother’s defense.”

“I would be remiss if I didn’t mention CNN’s own huge media story here,” Wemple said to CNN’s Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter.

“Chris Cuomo, the anchor at the 9 o’clock hour, who covered Andrew Cuomo and had all these wonderful love-a-thon interviews with him — more than 10 of them,” Wemple stated.

“They suspended the conflict-of-interest rule for Chris Cuomo for those interviews,” Wemple continued. “Yet all of a sudden they’ve enforced it again now that Andrew Cuomo was in the midst of a historic scandal in the Albany statehouse.”

“I think that is a major black eye for CNN,” Wemple concluded.

6.) Jussie Smollett Trial Revealed Don Lemon’s Texts

Before TV star Smollett was found guilty on five of the six charges in a case where he was accused of allegedly staging a racist attack on himself, Smollett’s trial revealed CNN anchor Don Lemon urgently notified Smollett that the Chicago Police Department was doubting Smollett’s alibi.

Smollett alleged he was beaten up by two supporters of then-President Donald Trump. Breitbart News reported:

Smollett called the brothers “liars” and said their account was “100% false. He testified over two days about being the victim of what he said was a hate crime, telling the jury ”there was no hoax.”

Abimbola Osundairo, who worked with Smollett on the Chicago set of “Empire,” and his brother, Olabingo Osundairo, also testified that Smollett paid them $3,500 for faking the attack. Smollett said the money was for meal and workout plans that Abimbola Osundairo was providing so the actor could be more toned for upcoming performances.

The Jan. 29 assault was reported to police, prompting a massive investigation that a lead detective said included some two dozen officers and 3,000 staff hours. The investigation — which included video from surveillance cameras, GPS and taxi and rideshare records — led police to the Osundairo brothers, who told detectives Smollett had staged the alleged hate crime.

Lemon has not acknowledged he was involved in the Smollett trial while reporting on the trial.

7.) Jake Tapper Loses 75 Percent of His Audience 

In June, Breitbart News’ John Nolte wrote The Lead with CNN anchor Jake Tapper lost 75 percent of his audience since January. Compared to the first quarter of the year, the show fell 49 percent:

Between May 31 and June 23, Tapper, a proven liar, and fabulist averaged only –LOL –708,000 viewers during his 4 p.m. ET hour. That’s down from 2.8 million in January.

By comparison, Fox’s dreadful Neal Cavuto walloped Tapper with an average of 1.1 million viewers during this same hour.


Tapper’s second hour (5-6 p.m. ET) averaged only 799,000 viewers between May 31 and June 23. Fox’s The Five averaged 2.6 million viewers during this same hour, which means Tapper’s taking a jaw-dropping 229 percent beating.

 8.) Brian Stelter Drops 72 Percent Of Viewers

Brian Stelter’s Reliable Sources show also dropped significantly in the first half of the year, the Daily Wire reported, failing to attract one million viewers for 11 consecutive weeks:

CNN’s ratings have steadily contracted ever since the breach breathed life into its sagging viewership. Stelter attracted 1.3 million viewers in February, 1.02 million in March, 917,000 in April, and 836,000 in May.

The ratings flop cannot be chalked up to a lack of interest in coverage of the media. “Reliable Sources,” which features Stelter providing commentary on the state of the mass media, airs in the same time slot as Fox News Channel’s “Media Buzz,” featuring former CNN host Howie Kurtz.  FNC’s media-focused show won an audience of 1.1 million, with 185,000 in the key television demographic.

“Fox News aired 12 different programs on Sunday alone that attracted a larger audience than ‘Reliable Sources,’” FNC reported.

9.) CNN Business Reportedly Investigated for Treatment of Women

Breitbart News reported in April that CNN’s parent company AT&T is investigating CNN business for the treatment of women in the workplace after Annalyn Kurtz, a senior editor, left the 60 person newsroom.

The alleged improper treatment reportedly stemmed from CNN digital, which is managed by senior vice president Meredith Artley:

During an “ask me anything” call on April 20, Artley reportedly mentioned the work environment assessment as ongoing. It is unknown what actions, if any, may result from the investigation.

The investigation comes after former CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin said before her departure, “The most influential anchors on our network, the highest-paid, are men.”

10.) Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins’ Bylines Restored

Kaitlan Collins’ bylines were restored at her former employer, the Daily Caller reported. “At least five potentially embarrassing click-bait stories written by the now CNN star when she worked at right-wing Daily Caller had mysteriously disappeared,” the New York Post reported.

The article in the Daily Caller had been published with the word “contributor” instead of a byline. “But the Web site appears to have since restored Collins, CNN’s star White House correspondent, as the rightful author,” the Post continued.

11.) Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) Demands Jake Tapper Apologize for Remarks About Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) 

Mast “lost his legs fighting for democracy abroad, although I don’t know about his commitment to it here in the United States,” Tapper questioned Mast’s patriotism in January.

Scalise told Fox News that Tapper’s comments were “disgraceful” and worthy of an apology.

“That was a disgraceful comment,” Scalise said. “Jake Tapper needs to just apologize and admit what he said was wrong. I’m dear friends with Brian Mast. Brian last night went to Walter Reed Hospital and worked out with wounded warriors.

“Brian lost two legs fighting for this country,” Scalise continued. “To question his love for this country and his commitment to this country when he literally lost his two legs and lost some fingers as a bomb squad technician fighting for our freedoms, he [Tapper] owes Brian Mast an apology.”

12.) Chris Cuomo Forced Out

Chris Cuomo was fired after CNN discovered he utilized sources to defend his brother, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, against sexual harassment accusers.

CNN initially put Chris Cuomo on probation. But after more information was revealed to the network by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who released text messages between the CNN anchor and Andrew Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, Chris was fired.

Following Cuomo’s termination, CNN released the following statement.

Chris Cuomo was suspended earlier this week pending further evaluation of new information that came to light about his involvement with his brother’s defense. We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review, and have terminated him, effective immediately. While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light. Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate.

13.) Former Chris Cuomo Staffer Arrested for Alleged Sex Crimes

On December 10, John Griffin was arrested by the FBI and thereafter suspended by CNN after a federal indictment accused him “Attempting to Induce Minors to Engage in Unlawful Sexual Activity,” the indictment read:

According to the indictment, from April to July of 2020, Griffin utilized the messaging applications Kik and Google Hangouts to communicate with people purporting to be parents of minor daughters, conveying to them, among other ideas, that a “woman is a woman regardless of her age,” and that women should be sexually subservient and inferior to men.  On these communication platforms, Griffin sought to persuade parents to allow him to train their daughters to be sexually submissive.

In June of 2020, Griffin advised a mother of 9- and 13-year-old daughters that the mother’s responsibility was to see that her older daughter was “trained properly.”

14.) Jake Tapper’s Former Producer Under Investigation by Child Exploitation Squad 

On Tuesday, Breitbart News reported that police confirmed Tapper’s former senior producer for CNN’s The Lead with Jake TapperRick Saleeby, who resigned mere weeks ago, is under investigation by a child exploitation squad:

Saleeby’s investigation comes after Project Veritas revealed video and text messages on December 15 that allegedly show him fantasizing about sex acts with his former fiancé’s underaged daughter.

Project Veritas revealed Saleeby’s information two days after their initial report on December 17.

Fairfax County police confirmed Saleeby’s investigation on Tuesday after Project Veritas investigators confronted Saleeby following a court appearance. Saleeby appeared in court to respond to a protective order placed against him by his former fiancé.

15.) CNN Airs Seven Days of Content Without Reaching One Million Viewers

In August, Nielsen data revealed CNN had gone seven straight days without reaching one million views each day from July 28 to August 3.

The ratings plunged for the network after former President Trump left office.

“Newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there,” Trump forecasted in 2017, “because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes.”

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø


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