A CNN commentator and ally of President Donald Trump said the network forced him out after managers discovered a video in which he defended the president’s comments following a 2017 “Unite the Right” political rally in Charlottesville, Va.
Steve Cortes, a former member of the president’s Hispanic advisory council, said on his radio show Monday that his tenure as a political commentator for the network “just ended.”
Later, Cortes repeated that claim during an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham Monday night, saying that his former network had issues with a PragerU video released in August.
In the video, Cortes argued that President Trump’s statement that there were “very find people on both sides” during the Charlottesville protests was not made in reference to neo-Nazis who attended the rally.
“The Charlottesville lie, the ‘fine people’ hoax, the president never called neo-Nazis fine people. For committing what was the unpardonable sin, at least in the eyes of CNN, for declawing that deception that they continued to push,” Cortes s=told Ingraham.
“They put me on the bench. They took me off the air after I did a PragerU video that got 6 million hits detailing exactly why the Charlottesville myth was a deception.”
Ingraham asked if CNN gave Cortes the reason why he was dismissed in writing.
“Not in writing, no, but they did tell me it was directly because of the Charlottesville video,” he explained.
“The president retweeted it, the PragerU video that I did, the president retweeted it. It got as I said, many millions of views, and I think we did strong work at improving the truth of the matter,” he added.
In a March 2019 column at RealClearPolitics, Cortes not only defended the president but also added his actual quote that has been taken out of context.
“Excuse me, they didn’t put themselves down as neo-Nazis, and you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides,” the president said shortly after the incident, in which one person was killed by a vehicle driven by a white supremacist.
“You had people in that group – excuse me, excuse me, I saw the same pictures you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name,” Trump continued.
Later in the same press conference, the president was more forceful: “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists because they should be condemned totally.”