John Harwood announced he has left CNBC for CNN on Tuesday, as the network adds to its deep bench of White House reporting talent.
some personal news: this is my first day at @CNN as White House Correspondent. honored and proud to join a team of journalists I’ve admired for so long
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) January 21, 2020
His announcement was met with wide acclaim, even from leading conservatives like Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin.
Fabulous! What a get for CNN!
— Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) January 21, 2020
Indeed, Jen. For so many reasons, this is a home-run hire for CNN. It’s almost unfair that the outlet that already boasts Jim Acosta has added this giant of impartial reporting to its roster.
Harwood is a well-sourced veteran of Washington who can appeal to the leading experts for their insights. For instance, on Sept. 21, 2015, Harwood emailed Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta for advice on what to ask Jeb Bush during his interview the following day. Incredible access!
Six days later, Harwood showed off his forward-thinking journalism and political foresight when he emailed Podesta and Jake Sullivan, a Clinton adviser, that he couldn’t believe “that some people still think it’s worth burning so much interview time with [the] person most likely to be next president on her emails.” He was so right—Hillary Clinton very nearly became the president.
Harwood is a kind soul too; it comes off in his Dec. 8, 2015, message to Podesta in which Harwood said Barack Obama should feel “vindication at this demonstration of his years-long point about the opposition party veering off the rails.”
“I certainly am feeling that way with respect to how I questioned Trump at our debate,” Harwood added.
Harwood was referring to his moderation of the CNBC Republican debate on Oct. 28, 2015. It was one of the most widely panned debates in recent history, even though Harwood and his compatriots elicited thoughtful answers on significant problems facing the United States, like regulating fantasy football and whether Donald Trump was running a “comic book version of a presidential campaign.” Harwood also asked Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) if he hated his job and clumsily tried to trap then-New Jersey governor Chris Christie into saying he supported the federal government driving action on climate change (Christie didn’t).
Some may have seen a “liberal hack” there, but others saw a heroic journalist realizing the only way to make sure none of NBC’s umbrella of networks held any more GOP debates was to utterly ruin one himself. It worked. The same week, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus cut off NBC News from moderating a planned February debate.
In fairness, Harwood wasn’t afraid to ask the tough questions with Democrats. During an interview with Barack Obama for the New York Times shortly before he took office in 2009, Harwood noted that, like John F. Kennedy, Obama “also made history, came in with a young, attractive family, had a lot of big Harvard brains around him.” Obama could hardly muster a response!
On Harwood’s Twitter feed, he shares deep observations from his experience as a straight-down-the-middle Washington correspondent.
good description of the challenge for journalism
hard for reporters to say plainly that the Republican Party, at this point in our history, is fundamentally broken
but it is https://t.co/HXHn3cmJ4N
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) December 22, 2019
Ted Cruz disseminating propaganda fabricated by the Kremlin to weaken the Unites States https://t.co/Cd6kGTJSP9
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) December 8, 2019
however repugnant their actions, MS-13 gang members are human beings IMHO
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) May 17, 2018
does anybody seriously believe it was not as everyday as sunrise that employers made pregnant women leave their jobs 50 years ago?
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) October 9, 2019
Trump relishes describing ghastly violence
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) October 27, 2019
fortunately for Clintons and WH alike, Loretta Lynch communicates pretty well/credibly
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) July 1, 2016
so it turns out a good guy with a gun was there, with sheriff’s dept training no teacher will ever have, and he didn’t stop the bad guy with a gun
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) February 22, 2018
there is no doubt media coverage exaggerated the significance of Clinton’s e-mails in a way that was not just dumb but obviously ridiculous https://t.co/uNlLrwAkqr
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) September 17, 2017
One final plus side to Harwood joining the White House beat: President Trump can do his spot-on impression of him to his face! That will be fun.
David Rutz is senior writer at the Washington Free Beacon. He was previously a sports reporter for two years in Atlanta and has done freelance sports reporting for the Washington Post. He graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2010 and lives in Marietta, Ga. His Twitter handle is @DavidRutz. He can be reached at [email protected]