I was not going to say anything, but rather just fade away. I suppose though with rumors and reports I should say something.
My voicemail and inbox are, as I type, filling up. I have turned my phone off as the only way to get it to stop ringing.
Yes, I can confirm I am leaving CNN. It was a very, very difficult decision. I appreciate their willingness to keep me on, but my wife and I decided it was time to move on.
When I told my 7 year old I had decided to leave, she laid on the sofa for an hour crying that she’d never see Anderson Cooper again. She’s never actually met Anderson Cooper. But I have and I’ll miss him and his team and I’ll miss Wolf and his team, and all the other terrific people I’ve worked with these last three years. I deeply regret never working up the courage to pull on Wolf’s beard.
For three years I have been a conservative political contributor at the network I grew up watching from Dubai and then home in Louisiana. I grew up wanting to be a Bernard Shaw or a Robert Novak and wound up working for CNN.
For all those liberals who lost money thinking Keith Olbermann would outlast me at Current TV, well, sorry.
Me at CNN was not an easy fit. The first month was tumultuous with several tumultuous times throughout. I liked to think of myself as job security for the public relations department. About the only thing the far right and far left could agree on was that I did not belong at CNN.
For three years I have received unmitigated hate and loathing from the left and, ironically, from a lot of folks on the right. Frankly, I’d like to thank some significant people responsible for my time at CNN, but (1) they know who they are and (2) it’d just generate hate mail for them so I better not.
For some reason saying something negative about the GOP was fine here at RedState, but saying the same damn thing on CNN brought in a flurry of emails from conservatives accusing me of selling out. Funny how that works.
Let me set the record straight in a way I could not were I still under contract because of how self-serving it would sound.
For three years I have worked with some of the greatest people I have ever had the joy of meeting. It has been a privilege to sit in a green room and hear Paul Begala or James Carville or Donna Brazile or Hillary Rosen or David Gergen or Alex Castellanos or Ari Fleischer or Mary Matalin or Gloria Borger or so many others tell stories about their days in the White House or on the campaign trail or covering the politicians who’ve governed the country these last few decades.
I’ve learned I can be on television for twenty-six straight hours and still make relative sense.
I’ve learned that some of the people I grew up thinking were in the enemy’s camp, so to speak, are spectacular people who share many of the same interests and opinions I do.
I’ve learned that family is more than just my wife and kids and our siblings and parents, but includes a host of people who, every time I’m in the room with them, we hug and eat and talk about stuff other than politics. And they always have a place at my kitchen table and a bed to sleep in if ever they are in Macon.
I’ve learned that using my wife’s blush brush to put on my own TV makeup is more than a little problematic from both a marriage stand point and the extra color it adds. I’ve also learned that my make up is more expensive than my wife’s make up, but that’s a whole other story.
I’ve learned that a surprising number of people think Sam Feist and I are related.
I’ve learned to never stay at the Hotel Fort Des Moines when reporters and campaign operatives are in Iowa. Among all the interesting stories, I’ve learned to never stay at the Hotel Fort Des Moines when reporters and campaign operatives are in Iowa. No further comment on that one.
I learned that I will never be competitive with Roland Martin on the fashion front, but he makes an excellent road trip companion through South Carolina. One of the most formative moments of my career at CNN was standing outside a hotel with Roland Martin and tourists began handing him luggage and keys as if he worked at the hotel — only because he was in a suit. His courteousness to the people when he did not have to be courteous and the fact that in the 21st century that’d happen at all really struck me profoundly.
Because of CNN I’m not just better at my job, but I’m a better person. For all the hate and angst from a lot of folks on the right over me going to CNN, I know many of the contributors I consider good friends were initially skeptical of my hiring. I had to learn an art form too often missing these days in partisan talk — the art of conversation, particularly with those who might disagree with me. I had to learn to be friends with people who I disagreed with. And I leave deeply caring for those people.
Frankly, before I went to CNN I was oblivious to the fact that there are ways to say things, without sacrificing or compromising my view or principle, that come off as more respectable and honest without invective than how I might have otherwise said them. There are ways to say things that draw people to you and ways to say things that push people from you. There are also times that facts and “known facts” get bounced around by both sides of the political spectrum without them ever actually being actual facts. We should all be more mindful of that. CNN made me mindful of that.
I am forever grateful to them for giving me a chance and have many, many fond memories and friends.
To my friends at CNN, good luck and God bless.
Effective today I am a Fox News contributor.