Did the Littlest Chickenhawk leak Salem email?

The CNN report features leaked emails, including an excerpt of one from Boyce to Shapiro:

One of the emails CNNMoney obtained was sent by Boyce in June of 2016, responding to what he said was Shapiro’s request for guidance on the company’s position on Trump.

Boyce wrote that “Salem has not taken an official position,” but noted that the company’s chief executive officer, Edward Atsinger, had made the case that supporting Trump was necessary to beat Hillary Clinton.

“So for you I would say the same,” Boyce wrote to Shapiro. “While your show is wildly entertaining and your positions make so much sense I have to salute. I do worry about the long term implications of where this is all going.”

Boyce added, “For YOU I suggest that you become a trial lawyer. You suspect your client is guilty, but you are paid to get him off. The jurors will ultimately decide his fate.”

On the face of it, this doesn’t seem so extraordinarily out of line. A host asks advice from a seasoned talk radio executive (Boyce helped develop the careers of Sean Hannity and Mark Levin) in navigating the brave new world of conservative commentary in the Trump era. And, as a radio host, I’d grade Boyce’s advice as pretty damn good.

So why is it treated as some sort of “smoking gun” in the CNN report?

“Ben Shapiro leaked an email that he asked me to write,” Boyce says. “He wanted some guidance on how to handle Trump.  This was in June 2016 right after the nomination.  I gave him some pointers.  I had no idea he would save it and leak it to CNN of all people.”

Shapiro denies having anything to do with the CNN report or the leak of the internal Salem emails. “It is utterly untrue that I leaked this story to CNN,” Shapiro told me. “End of story.”

The CNN report does not specifically contend that Shapiro was let go for ideological purposes and in my many conversations with him, Ben has never made that claim. However, Boyce believes the article suggests that was the case.

“Ben ultimately asked out of his deal 6 months early and we granted it.  His agent said we were very ‘gracious,’” Boyce said. Adding, “So why is he now leaving the impression that he was fired for being a never-Trumper?”