White House Says CNN Won't Let Administration Push Back on Bolton Book

John Bolton
John Bolton / Getty Images
June 18, 2020

CNN is refusing to give the White House airtime to refute claims made by John Bolton in his upcoming book, an administration spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon Thursday afternoon.

The network told the White House it is "focused on other breaking news," according to the spokesman. The White House declined to specify which officials it was offering to CNN to defend the president or to name the shows that declined their requests. CNN did not respond to a request for comment.

A review of CNN's Thursday programming found Bolton's book was featured as one of the top stories throughout the day, serving as the subject of nearly a dozen segments—including a lengthy interview on the book with Washington Post columnist Max Boot, who called Bolton's criticism of the president "unprecedented." Other topics given attention were Iceland's efforts to scale back its coronavirus shutdowns, the upcoming Juneteenth holiday, and whether the NFL will be able to return to play next season.

The refusal comes as the Trump administration steps up its effort to discredit Bolton, characterizing him as a scorned ex-official attempting to cash in on his time at the White House. Top Trump adviser Peter Navarro, for example, referred to the former national security adviser as "Book Deal" Bolton during a gaggle with reporters.

"The pattern of behavior of John 'Book Deal' Bolton is to go into an administration, advance his own agenda, and when he gets fired from that administration or leaves like he did in the Bush administration, he leaves and then criticizes the people he left behind who gave him the job," Navarro said.

Trump has also joined the effort to delegitimize Bolton, taking to Twitter to say the upcoming book is a "compilation of lies and made up stories."

The administration is actively attempting to block the release of Bolton's book, The Room Where It Happened, arguing that it contains classified information the former official is unauthorized to disclose. The book has already been distributed to book stores and is scheduled to be released Tuesday June 23.

Bolton has also already sat for an interview with ABC News set to air Sunday, in which he says Trump is not "fit for office."