It seems as though the town hall that CNN hosted with former President Donald Trump this week may have backfired on the network – or at least one its CEO, Chris Licht.
On Wednesday night, Oliver Darcy, a senior media reporter for CNN, revealed that the network was “facing a fury of criticism” from within the media company after it hosted the controversial town hall with Trump in front of prospective voters in New Hampshire.
In his newsletter that’s called “Reliable Sources,” Darcy wrote:
“It’s hard to see how America was served by the spectacle of lies that aired on CNN Wednesday evening.”
Darcy did praise Kaitlan Collins, the host for CNN for the night, for being “tough and knowledgeable” since she was trying to fact check many remarks that Trump was making. However, he added that the host was given “an impossible task” as well as “put in an uncomfortable position.”
Darcy wrote this because Collins was given an audience comprised of New Hampshire Republican voters who were mostly in favor of Trump, and applauded him while he was talking while also laughing at some of the comments he made. He wrote:
“And CNN aired it all. On and on it went. It felt like 2016 all over again. It was Trump’s unhinged social media feed brought to life on stage.”
Darcy further wrote that staffers for Trump were very much “delighted” about the town hall event. He added:
“CNN and new network boss Chris Licht are facing a fury of criticism – both internally and externally over the event. How Licht and other CNN executives address the criticism in the coming days and weeks will be crucial.
“Will they defend what transpired at Saint Anselm College? Or will they express some regret? For now, CNN is defending itself.”
CNN did just that when a spokesperson released a statement on behalf of the network Wednesday, praising Collins for her work during the town hall. The statement read:
“Tonight, Kaitlan Collins exemplified what it means to be a world-class journalist. She asked tough, fair and revealing questions. And she followed up and fact checked President Trump in real time to arm voters with crucial information about his positions as he enters the 2024 election as the Republican frontrunner. That is CNN’s role and responsibility: to get answers and hold the powerful to account.”
That’s one take. Another that many other people are taking is that CNN lost control of the interview completely, and that they never should have given Trump the platform to begin with.
Another anchor for CNN, Jake Tapper, said after the event was over:
“It was an interesting night. Mr. Trump’s first lie was told just seconds into the night with his false, familiar claim that the 2020 election was, quote, ‘a rigged election. And the falsehoods kept coming, fast and furious, about the January 6 insurrection, about the threat to Vice President Pence, about Pence’s ability to overturn the election, about COVID, about the economy and more.”