DANIEL VAUGHAN: CNN’s firings and the moral relativity of the left

What gets a person fired at CNN makes very little sense. If you’re Jeffrey Toobin and get caught masturbating on a Zoom call with coworkers, all you have to deal with is a leave of absence. In fact, you can have a woman read off what happened and how you’re a better person. But at no point do you end up fired.

CNN President Jeff Zucker couldn’t even be bothered to fire his anchor Chris Cuomo. And that’s despite not only Cuomo assisting his brother in drafting statements and overall media relations after Andrew Cuomo’s litany of sexual harassment allegations, as Yahoo News reported, but that Chris Cuomo had his brother Andrew on CNN’s airwaves doing puff pieces.

These aren’t just allegations; these are confirmed facts in the New York Attorney General’s investigation report.

Timothy Carney at the Washington Examiner made a good point about the Chris Cuomo ordeal. The problem isn’t so much that he was helping his brother, as you can’t expect someone to abandon their family. “The moral error was repeatedly having the governor on the air in order to lionize him — while he disastrously mishandled the coronavirus outbreak in his state.”

Chris Cuomo was doing that with no qualifiers about the relationship and problems of bias in those segments. Those were, for all intents and purposes, paid advertisements for Andrew Cuomo. It wasn’t journalism, and CNN was lying to its audience while claiming to present the truth.

Chris Cuomo continues his new policy of remaining silent, but he’s still attacking Andrew Cuomo’s political opponents. That’s apparently no problem for CNN.

So, ethical challenges and exposing yourself to coworkers are things that don’t get you fired at CNN. What can get you fired? Going to work without a vaccine, for one. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that “the network fired three employees who came to work without getting a Covid-19 vaccine, as the company steps up efforts to keep the virus from spreading in its offices.”

The WSJ report continued:

In an email to employees Thursday, Mr. Zucker said that the terminated employees violated the company’s honor system, which asked workers to attest that they were vaccinated but didn’t require them to produce documentary evidence of their vaccination.

“Let me be clear—we have a zero-tolerance policy on this,” Mr. Zucker said. “You need to be vaccinated to come to the office. And you need to be vaccinated to work in the field, with other employees, regardless of whether you enter an office or not.”

The irony of this is that people at CNN aren’t working in the office full-time yet.

The Journal noted: “Up to now, workers have been coming into CNN offices on a voluntary basis.” And CNN didn’t require proof of vaccination to enter the building, but now that “may become part of the process of entering CNN buildings.”

So in effect, the three employees were fired for not following a voluntary policy, there’s no proof they were spreading COVID-19, and now they’re out of a job. Meanwhile, Chris Cuomo, the fake journalist, and Jeffrey Toobin, roam CNN freely.

The problem here isn’t unique to CNN. We’ve set up so many ad-hoc guidelines and semi-rules and changed them all at the drop of a hat that expecting anyone to know the rules at any given time is impossible. You might expect employees to understand their rules more, but any HR person would laugh at that kind of expectation.

CNN’s decision is an exemplar of a larger issue happening on the left. They want to come down hard on the unvaccinated, even when they don’t have good reasons to do so. These employees did nothing but their job.

They violated nothing in the employee handbook and were fired on a whim by the network, which is publicly stating it may need new policies.

Meanwhile, things like the #MeToo movement or the collapse in trust in news media get shunted to the side. A few years ago, Toobin would have become a pariah with women telling similar stories about him. It’s not like Toobin isn’t replaceable; he provides little value in legal knowledge.

Your average first-year law student understands the law better than Toobin’s hackery, yet he remains.

There was a real need for the #MeToo movement. There were real monsters and harmful behaviors that needed publicity. But now, those exact media figures rush to protect Toobin or one of the Cuomos. 

Rose McGowan, the original progenitor of the #MeToo social media campaign, is naturally livid at these kinds of betrayals.

But the revelation is critical in understanding the vaccination push. CNN and whoever else wants to punish the unvaccinated only care for the political points they can score right now. It’s not about the principle of saving lives; it’s only about winning the relative morals of the moment.

And once that moment passes, whatever moral code was vaunted in that past moment immediately gets chucked for the new “it” moral code. This point is the essence of moral relativity, and it’s just gotten sped up into cycles of hours and minutes instead of years and decades, as conservative Christians once complained. The late-great Robert Bork called it slouching towards Gomorrah; we’re on a floom-zoom to the next new morally relative fad.

Even the George Floyd movement got paused for the moment. The Biden administration wants to push through an ATF nominee who has complaints against him for making racist remarks. But we’re not in the boiler pot of the Floyd moment anymore, so that moral evil no longer matters as much the left or press.

CNN didn’t fire those employees because they did anything wrong. They fired them because the moral thing right now is to punish the unvaccinated.

It’s anyone’s guess how long this lasts, but soon enough, we’ll move on to the next thing, and no one will care about this moment. And that shift will have nothing to do with the status of the COVID-19 pandemic.