CNN faces harsh criticism after Trump unleashed a fire hose of lies during his live town hall – KESQ

By Oliver Darcy, CNN

It’s hard to see how the United States benefited from the show of lies that aired on CNN Wednesday night.

Kaitlan Collins is a tough and knowledgeable interviewer. She verified Trump during the 70-minute town hall. Over and over and over again, she told him that the election was not stolen. That he was not rigged. That there was no evidence of the lies he was spreading on stage.

“The election was not rigged, Mr. President,” Collins told Trump at one point at the event. “You can’t keep saying that all night.”

However, he did it. Trump frequently ignored or talked about Collins throughout the night as he unleashed a hose of disinformation on the country, which much of the GOP continues to believe. A professional lie machine, Trump fired off falsehoods at a rapid pace while using his bravado to overwhelm Collins, stealing stage control at a few points from City Hall.

Trump lied about the 2020 election. He did not take responsibility for the January 6 insurrection that those same lies incited. And he scoffed at the sexual assault allegations by E. Jean Carroll, for which a jury found him responsible Tuesday.

And CNN broadcast it all. Over and over he left. It felt like 2016 all over again. It was Trump’s insane social media stream brought to life on stage. And Collins was left in an awkward position, as the town hall was held in front of a Republican audience that applauded Trump, giving a sense of unwitting endorsement of his embarrassing antics.

Yes, some news was made. The city council stressed his insistence on continuing to sell 2020 election lies. In addition, he said that the United States should default on your debt if the White House disagrees with Republican spending cuts, refused to say if you want Ukraine or Russia to win the war, and refused to give a direct answer about abortion

But for most of the night, the nation’s eyes were transfixed by Trump’s abuse of the platform he’d been given. At one point, he even insulted Collins, calling her a “nasty person,” to which the crowd of New Hampshire primary Republican voters erupted in cheers.

“We don’t have enough time to verify every lie he told,” host Jake Tapper said candidly after the event ended.

Trump’s team was naturally delighted with the result, according to reports. “Trump’s advisers are delighted with how he’s doing so far,” NYT’s Jonathan Swan. reported. “You can’t believe you’re getting an hour on CNN with an audience applauding your every line and laughing at your every joke.”

Neither did anyone else.

While Collins is largely drawing praise for his relentless fact-checking of the former president, he faced an impossible task. CNN and the network’s new chief, Chris Licht, are facing a fury of criticism, both internal and external, for the event.

How Licht and other CNN executives deal with the criticism in the coming days and weeks will be crucial. Will they defend what happened at Saint Anselm College? Or will they express any regret?

For now, CNN is holding its own.

“Tonight Kaitlan Collins exemplified what it means to be a world-class journalist. He asked tough, fair and revealing questions,” a spokesperson for the network said. “And she followed and verified President Trump in real time to arm voters with crucial information about where he stands as he enters the 2024 election as the Republican frontrunner.”

“That’s CNN’s role and responsibility: to get answers and hold the powerful to account.”

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“The predictably disastrous [CNN] the town hall was truly a disaster,” TV news veteran Mark Lukasiewicz tweeted. “Testing again: Living the lie works. A friendly MAGA crowd constantly laughs, applauds at Trump jokes including sexual assaults and January 6th, and the moderator can’t begin to keep up with the AR-15 bullshit.” (Twitter)

“This was insane, complete insanity,” Bill Carter said. “Like giving Drunken Uncle a microphone and saying: go ahead!” (Twitter)

“This is the lowest point for CNN as an organization,” argued James Fallows. (Twitter)

“THIS is the 2024 Republican presidential primary,” wrote Brian Stelter. “Look away if you want, but that’s how it’s going to be. Should the media sanitize it or stare it in the face? (Twitter)

To that point: “I have complaints, but I don’t really blame CNN for having a town hall with the GOP frontrunner,” argued Sarah Longwell. “It’s good to know what we’re up against. We cannot hide from the fight in front of us. Trump will probably be the nominee and we need to have a clear eye on what we’re up against.” (Twitter)

“This was a preview of what American journalism can expect from a 2024 campaign starring Mr. Trump, who, despite his ubiquity in political life, has rarely appeared on mainstream television outside of Fox News. since leaving office,” wrote Michael Grynbaum. (NYT)

Justin Baragona said that CNN was leaving the city hall “with a lot of egg” on his face. “At the same time, I feel like Kaitlan Collins is doing the best he can in this situation,” he added. (Twitter)

“Chris Licht said he wouldn’t let anyone on his network say it’s raining when it’s not,” Alex Sherman said. “But now he’s let someone in who says he’s raining when it’s not, and he’s added hundreds of people to clap when he does.” (Twitter)

“Trump appeared to have significant home-field advantage over Collins,” Jeremy Barr wrote. (wapo)

“Accessories for [Collins] who was in an impossible position but did a heroic job of checking out Trump all over town hall,” Peter Baker tweeted. “Not an easy task given the amount of untrue things he said in such a short time.” (Twitter)

“Even in a world where [Collins] he was correcting all of Trump’s lies as they were spewed out, and we’re pretty far from that world, the braying crowd would make Trump look like the victor,” Jonathan Chait said. (Twitter)

“This was not Kaitlin Collins’ fault,” Charlie Sykes said. “The format was impossible and CNN bosses should have known that.” (Twitter)

“This format set her, and the country, for failure,” Tom Nichols repeated. (Twitter)

“This is not [Collins’] blame (she is doing the best she can), but this is a geyser of disinformation that cannot be verified in real time,” added Dan Pfeiffer. (Twitter)

Democratic politicians were furious: “CNN should be ashamed of themselves,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said. (Twitter)

Seung Min Kim reported that the TVs on Air Force One, which are “always” tuned to CNN, were switched to show MSNBC during the town hall. (Twitter)

The CNN Wire
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