CNN/T-Rump Town Hall: Scream Surprise — Not!

May 11, 2023

Sunshine and cool air this late-afternoon Thursday here in California’s Central Valley — an absolutely beautiful day as a chilly breeze made for another pre-summer, pre-baking episode of wondrous weather.
Just about in the rearview mirror, though, as temperatures are forecast to melt upward starting tomorrow, and maybe hit triple digits by Sunday. Shit firestorm!

News across the media cycle today has been reviews, op/eds, and wrap features on last night’s horrific CNN Town Hall with the T-Rump. blubbering tons and tons of lies, nasty remarks and generally behaving like an idiot asshole — surprise, Not! A big chunk of reviews have been negative, especially with regards to CNN, who gave the Orange Turd an open mic and a nasty audience who clapped and laughed at all the nasty smirks (I use ‘nasty‘ a lot, for reason), lies and free campaign coverage, a slipshod service pertinent to 2016. T-Rump is horror fodder.
And if not put under strict controls, he can get away with a lot of shit — ask supposed Town Hall moderator Kaitlan Collins and the entire course of democracy, especially telling in the arrogant ignorance asshat CNN CEO Chris Licht, who okayed this ckusterf*ck. All of this came as no surprise, not unexpected.

In the brains of all, this is lunacy: ‘The lack of pushback from Collins and Trump’s bullying performance was a boon to his campaign team. On the New York Times live blog of the town hall, reporter Jonathan Swan wrote, “Advisers to Trump are thrilled at how this is going so far for him. They can’t believe he is getting an hour on CNN with an audience that cheers his every line and laughs at his every joke.”

Tons of posts dedicated to the event scrolled across screens this morning.
One of the best media wraps on the event came from Digby — her lede on the post set up the review, and was absolutely spot on:

It was horrible. I keep up with him, as you know. I read his silly feed on his silly social media platform and I watch his videos. And I’ve watched his interviews and rallies. But I have not seen him at a normal campaign event since 2020 and even though I know he will never change, it’s still a shock to see him lie so relentlessly — and worse, watch the audience cheer and applaud as if he’s said something hilarious or profound. I confess that it shook me a bit. If anything he’s worse than he was before.

She has probably one of the best political blogs on the entire, worldwide InterWeb (Hullabaloo) and the energy to boot, too. Heather Parton is a national treasure.

Meanwhile, the T-Rump should be viewed in reality and not in a showcase that could have been orchestrated by his campaign staff:

Another view of CNN‘s f*ck-up came from Tom Nichols at The Atlantic late this afternoon — Nichols has Digby’s same gut reaction:

I have long argued that Americans need to see more, rather than less, of Donald Trump. Because I believe that Trump is an existential menace to American democracy, I have encouraged covering Trump as closely as possible. I know this seems counterintuitive: Trump built a following over the years by being on television, and his base can’t get enough of him, so why should the media encourage more adoration? But for ordinary Americans who did not join the cultish following that congealed around Trump in 2016—many of whom are the independent voters who will decide the next election—“Trump exhaustion” is a real thing, and the more of it, the better.

Watching Trump for any extended period of time is enervating and deeply uncomfortable. The man is a quivering bag of weird verbal and physical tics. And when he gets rolling, listening to a Trump speech is like standing nearby while someone throws a match into a box of cheap bottle rockets: When the fusillade of annoying noise, misfires, duds, and smoke is over, all that’s left is a general stink in the air.

This discomfort is exactly my point: If you want to stop Donald Trump from returning to power, putting him on TV is the way to go. But doing so requires either that you hand him a microphone and let him immolate himself, or that you sit him down with a reporter who will not let up on calling out his lies and fantasies until he melts down.

Last night, however, CNN chose one of the worst possible options. Instead of a candidate interview, CNN Chairman Chris Licht apparently thought it would be a great idea to cast Trump in a remake of The Jerry Springer Show, complete with vulgar jokes, hooting fans, and a mild-mannered host—in this case, the CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins—stuck with the thankless of job of trying to intervene in the shouting and angry finger-pointing. Instead of an important one-on-one interview with a dangerous and malevolent demagogue, CNN presented another episode of Trump’s ongoing reality show.

The result was a disaster that was not only foreseeable but also as predictable as the laws of physics, a cringe-inducing display that damaged CNN’s reputation, put one of its rising stars in a no-win situation, cheapened journalism, and undermined our political process—all in the span of little more than an hour.

And the journalism of CNN? Don’t fret.
Again, expected — some comment from Vice, also late this afternoon:

Forty-seven minutes into CNN’s town hall with former President Donald Trump on Wednesday, midway through a debate whether or not Trump really has what it takes to build the wall, Kaitlan Collins had had enough.

“The election was not rigged, Mr. President. You cannot keep saying that all night long,” the CNN host protested. “You cannot keep saying the elections were rigged.”

“OK, good, I know,” Trump said. “I’m glad you are saying it.”


The former president used the time and platform CNN gave him to repeatedly, falsely claim that the lawsuits and investigations into his conduct are “election interference”; said again that Carroll was lying in her account of Trump’s assault and alleged that she called her former husband an “ape”; said he had “every right” to take classified documents from the White House; suggest that no one in D.C’s Chinatown speaks English; suggested he might pardon the Proud Boys who were just convicted of seditious conspiracy for Jan. 6; and brazenly lied about a whole host of things, from Democrats wanting to “kill a baby” in the ninth month of pregnancy to the suggestion that he offered Speaker Nancy Pelosi and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser 10,000 troops before Jan. 6.

CNN did an online fact-check of Trump’s claim in a story that would likely be read by a fraction of the people who watched the town hall. In the immediate aftermath of the town hall, CNN’s Jake Tapper told a bewildered panel of reporters and commentators that there wasn’t “enough time to fact-check every lie he told.”

That was the whole problem. The first mistake, and really the only one, was doing this thing in the first place.

Not to be applied eight years later and having learned nothing without nothing.
No one of T-Rump’ss MAGA-followers would benefit from a hot mic — history tells:

Surprised, or not, yet once again here we are…

(Illustration out front: Edvard Munch‘s ‘The Scream,’ lithograph version, found here.)

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