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CNN Is Not Renewing A Political Reporter’s TV Deal After She Got A New Job Running A Conservative News Site

Eliana Johnson’s CNN contract will not be renewed, as she leaves Politico to lead the Free Beacon.

Posted on September 4, 2019, at 7:32 p.m. ET

Brian Snyder / Reuters

Eliana Johnson, a leading White House reporter for Politico, will not have her contract renewed for her CNN political analyst role after she accepted a new job running the neoconservative Washington Free Beacon.

CNN confirmed her existing contract is due to expire in November and that the network does not plan to renew it, saying the decision is being made because she will no longer be a White House reporter specifically.

“CNN has a right to tap or drop contributors at any point,” Johnson said. “None of us is entitled to a contract renewal.”

Johnson, who has broken significant news on the ultra-competitive White House beat, has been a CNN political analyst since November 2017 and appears on air regularly, often to discuss the political news of the day, not just stories related to President Donald Trump. She came to Politico from conservative media, most recently as a reporter at National Review. She told BuzzFeed News this week that she plans to use the Free Beacon to “train serious reporters who have a conservative outlook and an irreverent sensibility,” with a focus on breaking news and original reporting.

CNN executives have publicly committed to having political diversity on air, and the network has had a host of pro-Trump and conservative voices across its programming, as well as explicitly anti-Trump and liberal ones. But the network has dropped some pro-Trump contributors this year, and the Hollywood Reporter reported it has “benched” two other high-profile Trump backers who still work as contributors. The network has other conservatives as regular on-air contributors, including Mary Katharine Ham, who has written for several conservative outlets, and Rich Lowry, who is the editor of National Review.

Other high-profile reporters have maintained contracts at the network as they’ve changed beats or news outlets — Ryan Lizza, a CNN political analyst, has been at the network since he was a Washington correspondent at the New Yorker, and then as he moved from being chief political correspondent at Esquire to chief Washington correspondent at Politico.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.