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Tipsheet

What Caused CNN's CEO to Summon the Network's Media Reporter to His Office

AP Photo/Ron Harris

CNN’s town hall event with former President Donald Trump was a ratings boon. The Left went apoplectic. E. Jean Carroll, who just won a $5 million judgment in a recent defamation suit, might be considering another legal action after Trump called her a whack job. It was vintage Trump who rolled moderator Kaitlin Collins, but that was expected. Liberals once again showed their stripes when their chief complaint was that the former president had a platform to go on the offensive; how dare Mr. Trump exercise his free speech rights. He’s a presidential candidate who is the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination—deal with it. CNN’s media reporters were also unspooled, animated over the event by calling it a “spectacle of lies” (via Reliable Sources): 

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It's hard to see how America was served by the spectacle of lies that aired on CNN Wednesday evening. 

Kaitlan Collins is as tough and knowledgable of an interviewer as they come. She fact-checked Trump throughout the 70-minute town hall. Over and over and over again, she told him that the election was not stolen. That it was not rigged. That there was no evidence for the lies he was disseminating on stage. 

"The election was not rigged, Mr. President," Collins told Trump at one point during the event. "You cannot keep saying that all night long." 

Yet, he did. Trump frequently ignored or spoke over Collins throughout the evening as he unleashed a firehose of disinformation upon the country, which a sizable swath of the GOP continues to believe. A professional lie machine, Trump fired off falsehoods at a rapid clip while using his bluster to overwhelm Collins, stealing command of the stage at some points of the town hall. 

 Trump lied about the 2020 election. He took no responsibility for the January 6 insurrection that those very lies incited. And he mocked E. Jean Carroll's allegations of sexual assault, which a jury found him liable for on Tuesday. 

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. And Collins was put in an uncomfortable position, given the town hall was conducted in front of a Republican audience that applauded Trump, giving a sense of unintended endorsement to his shameful antics.

[…] 

While Collins is largely receiving praise for her relentless fact-checking of the former president, she was facing an impossible task. 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?

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Yes, there's been internal drama over the Trump town hall, but Licht seemed more concerned about his network's coverage of the event, even summoning his senior media reporter to his office to dress him down for being “too emotional.” In this meeting, he reiterated the network's new mission of being objective and “dispassionate” about reporting.

I can’t stand CNN most of the time, and I was skeptical about the new brass trying to reinvent the network's image that had become insufferably anti-Trump. Could they return to the days of the late Bernard Shaw when they were a legitimate news network? That still remains to be seen, but new CEO Chris Licht berating the media division for being hysterical is a good sign.

 

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