As many predicted, former president and current 2024 GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump dominated the CNN town hall in New Hampshire Wednesday, owning the stage and the crowd and essentially turning the tables on moderator Kaitlan Collins multiple times.
Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for the media meltdowns to begin, with some of the more notable ones coming from CNN anchors themselves like Principled Journalist™ Jake Tapper and fellow host Anderson Cooper, both of who made it clear how fauxfended they were over Trump’s alleged “lies,” his treatment of Collins, and how the crowd of Republican and independent voters lapped up everything Trump said.
In other words, contra to what CNN hoped to get out of it when they arranged the town hall with Trump’s people over the course of several months, Trump is the one who came out on top in every way that mattered most, while CNN was left with egg on their faces and more backlash than they were prepared to handle.
As definitive proof that CNN realized their mistake during the course of Wednesday night’s event, it was noticed by media observers that the town hall was cut short:
Wasn't this supposed to run until 9:30? This gives CNN more time to spin. Literally they are now devoting more than double the time on their spinning than the length of the town hall.
— johnny dollar (@johnnydollar01) May 11, 2023
It was supposed to be a 90-minute event. Instead, it ended up being less than 70 minutes:
Note: The CNN Town Hall was a 90 minute broadcast, though the network expected the actual event to go as long as 75 minutes. They stopped less than 70 minutes in. In other words, they could have gone longer if they wanted—which is usually what executives do with big ratings draws
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) May 11, 2023
They know this did not go well for them. Nevertheless, CEO Chris Licht proceeded to gaslight the hell out of CNN employees during a conference call Thursday morning, essentially telling them to move along, nothing to see here, it’s all good, according to ex-CNN media hall monitor Brian Stelter:
Chris Licht begins CNN’s 9am editorial call by praising @kaitlancollins for a “masterful performance last night.” He says “I couldn’t be more proud of her” and the whole team in NH. Then he says he’s aware of the backlash…
“You do not have to like the former president’s answers, but you can’t say that we didn’t get them,” Licht tells staffers, many of whom are angry about the town hall. “Kaitlan pressed him again and again and made news. Made a LOT of news.” And “that is our job.”
“While we all may have been uncomfortable hearing people clapping, that was also an important part of the story,” Licht adds, because those folks represent “a large swath of America,” and the media screwed up by missing that part of the story in 2015/16.
Covering Trump is “tricky and messy,” Licht says, and it will “continue to be messy and tricky, but it’s our job.” He confidently says “America was served very well by what we did last night.” Many CNN employees strongly disagree.
You know, in Media World it has been often said that “any press is good press” regardless of how negative it is, because it gets your name out there and gets people talking. But at a time when CNN is already cratering viewers, firing troublesome longtime anchors, and is frantically making more line-up changes, I’d say the massive blowback from their town hall is the absolute last thing they needed at this difficult (for them) time.
But as far as their “outraged” woke viewers are concerned, CNN won’t ever learn, because as we saw during the entirety of Trump’s presidency, CNN needs him more than they would ever be willing to admit. That is something that was true during the Zucker era, it’s true now, and it will be for as long as Trump remains politically relevant and in demand.
The spectacle, as they say, is the point.
Facts First, and all that.
Flashback: Things Get Tense When CNN ‘Fact Checker’ Daniel Dale Contacts Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Office for Comment
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