CNN severed ties with a prominent Donald Trump defender after he tweeted the words “Sieg Heil!” at a liberal activist.
CNN announced Thursday that Jeffrey Lord, a former Reagan administration staffer who often appeared on the network to defend the administration, was no longer with the network.
“Nazi salutes are indefensible,” a CNN spokesperson said in a statement, according to CNN.
Retained by CNN in August 2015, Lord was an indefatigable on-air supporter of Trump throughout his candidacy and since his election. A contributor to the conservative magazine The American Spectator, Lord is a former aide to Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan.
Earlier this week, Lord engaged in a heated argument on Twitter with Angelo Carusone, the president of the liberal group Media Matters for America. Lord wrote a column for The American Spectator published Thursday morning calling Carusone’s group, which had been promoting an ad boycott against Fox News host Sean Hannity, as the “Media Matters Fascists.”
The article, titled “Fascist Media Matters Moves to Silence Hannity,” described Carusone’s group as “anti-free speech bigots who, in typical fascist style, make it their mission to shut down speech they don’t like.”
Lord shared the column with Carusone on Twitter Thursday. “Your headline has a mistake in it,” Carusone responded. “Why do you expect anyone to take you seriously when you don’t take yourself seriously.”
Lord’s response on Thursday afternoon was “Sieg Heil!”
Responding to a storm of criticism, Lord defended his tweet by saying he was “mocking a fascist.”
In subsequent tweets, he insisted he meant to be “mocking Nazis and Fascists.”
But refusing to back down to a Twitter firestorm, he posted, “Why would I delete something that mocks the Fascists at Media Matters Fascists?”
His defiant tweet in his firing’s aftermath: “LOL!”
During his presence on CNN’s airwaves Lord had frequently riled CNN hosts including Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon, fellow commentators, and viewers with many of his statements. During Super Tuesday election night coverage in March 2016, he argued that the KKK was a left-wing organization because of Democrats’ support of it many decades before. In April, he called President Donald Trump the “Martin Luther King” of health care.