Image: AP

CNN’s hiring of ex-Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has already proven to be a gigantic mess. Journalists—including, reportedly, those within CNN—have objected to the network paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to a man who has personally threatened people who are now his colleagues, but CNN has soldiered on anyway with the belief that Lewandowski provides unique insight into the Trump campaign.

That might be complicated, one would think, by the revelation that Lewandowski is still receiving severance payments from Trump himself. This fact has been noted by CNN anchors while introducing Lewandowski on their programs at least twice in the last week, Media Matters pointed out this morning:

Former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is still being paid by the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s campaign while simultaneously drawing a salary as a CNN contributor to discuss the candidate on-air, according to the network.

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and host Don Lemon noted that Lewandowski is “still receiving severance from the Trump campaign” while introducing him in July 11 and July 12 segments.

Further, Media Matters notes that these are the first instances of disclosure despite Lewandowski being in the networks’ employ for nearly a month:

These references appear to be the first time CNN has disclosed the severance payments even though Lewandowski was hired nearly three weeks ago, raising questions about when the network became aware that its commentator was still being paid by his former employer.

Obviously CNN—amidst a ratings-crazy election season—has essentially tabled any and every conflict of interest concern related to Lewandowski simply because of his name. But even those concerns of objectivity operate under the pretense that Lewandowski was ever going to say anything critical or illuminating about Trump, and that’s just now how the cable news machine—especially one as obsessed with fake debate as CNN—works.