A top executive at CNN defended a political commentator who claimed on-air on Tuesday that impeachment investigation witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman might be loyal to Ukraine, which he left as a refugee at age three, Politico reported.
Former Republican Rep. Sean Duffy, who joined the network on October 20, said Tuesday morning that Vindman “has an affinity, I think, for the Ukraine” and, when asked, refused to say whether he thought Vindman, a Purple Heart recipient, was putting America first.
Later that day, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin called Duffy’s comments “insanity” and anchor Brianna Keilar dubbed them “anti-immigrant bigotry.” But Duffy was defended by CNN vice president Rebecca Kutler.
The network “is out there reporting from all over the country and from all points of view,” she told Politico, adding, “having people who support the president’s policies is part of that.” Kutler said CNN’s airing of Toobin and Kielar’s criticisms “speaks for itself.”
Duffy was added to CNN’s roster of commentators after the departure of several other prominent pro-Trump figures in the past year. “It is hard to find people who will come on and support the president’s point of view,” CNN president Jeff Zucker said last Thursday. “We need these voices.”
Vindman, who is Jewish, said in his congressional testimony on Tuesday that he had “a deep appreciation for American values and ideals and the power of freedom. I am a patriot, and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend our country, irrespective of party or politics.”