Trump Played a 'Steamroller' at CNN Town Hall

CNN 'effectively gave America a primetime Trump rally'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2023 6:03 AM CDT
Trump Played a 'Steamroller' at CNN Town Hall
People protest outside a building on the campus of Saint Anselm College hosting a CNN televised town hall gathering with former President Donald Trump, Wednesday, May 10, 2023, in Manchester, NH.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Supporters and detractors of former President Trump don't agree on much, but many on both sides believe the CNN town hall event Wednesday was a good night for him. During 70 minutes in front of a Trump-friendly audience in New Hampshire, Trump repeated his lies about the 2020 election being stolen and mocked E. Jean Carroll, the woman he was found liable for sexually abusing in a verdict Tuesday. Moderator Kaitlan Collins struggled at times to push back, which "underscored the challenges of fact-checking Trump in real time," the AP reports. Trump spoke through many attempts to interrupt him and called Collins a "nasty person" at one point.

  • "A primetime Trump rally." CNN "effectively gave America a primetime Trump rally with fewer people selling offensive T-shirts outside," writes Rex Huppke at USA Today. "And for anyone who grew weary of Trump’s reflexive dishonesty and bullheaded cruelty while he was president, Wednesday night brought back nauseating memories, as well as a preview of how little has changed."

  • Collins was "put in a position to fail." CNN put Collins "in a room full of Trump supporters, who laughed at their cult leader’s crass jokes and applauded his cheap insults," Mehdi Hasan writes at MSNBC. The network "put her in a position to fail" and the only way she could have "even semi-succeeded would have been if she had ignored the audience and the format entirely and instead tried to pin Trump down on each and every one of his false and offensive statements," he writes.
  • Network, Collins never had control. Adam Gabbatt at the Guardian is one of many commentators who describe Trump as a "steamroller." Between 8pm and 9pm, Trump lied about "dozens of topics" and there was never a moment "when CNN or Collins had any semblance of control," he writes. "Trump lied about election fraud and about the January 6 insurrection. He obfuscated on trade tariffs and the aims of abortion advocates, and claimed, wrongly, that he had 'finished' the wall."
  • CNN criticized. Viewers who criticized CNN included Amanda Carpenter, a former aide to Sen. Ted Cruz, the Wall Street Journal reports. "The problem is not Kaitlan Collins," she tweeted. "The problem is a media establishment and a Republican Party that is dedicated to normalizing a radical and dangerous political figure."
  • Trump "made all the right people mad." Bonchie at RedState says that while it's not clear that Trump did anything to help sway independent voters, for conservatives, what's "not arguable is that he managed to make all the right people mad," with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Lincoln Project founder Rick Wilson tweeting "hilarious meltdowns" during the event.
  • Biden team was also cheering. President Biden's political team was "cheering along with the Republican audience," according to Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman at the New York Times. On topics like Jan. 6 and abortion, his "answers played well in the hall but could all find their way into Democratic messaging in the next 18 months," they write.
(More Donald Trump stories.)

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