For some Republicans, Democrats, and journalists, CNN’s disastrous 70-minute town hall with Donald Trump proved what everyone thought it would be: a desperate network featuring a twice-impeached, criminally indicted wannabe despot.
The Trump presidential campaign rally, poorly disguised as a town hall, even received criticism from CNN’s own journalists. “It was an interesting night,” longtime CNN anchor Jake Tapper observed. “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.’”
Tapper wasn’t finished with his criticism: “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,” he railed.
The cable network’s media reporter, Oliver Darcy, proved equally disturbed. “It’s hard to see how America was served by the spectacle of lies that aired on CNN Wednesday evening,” Darcy wrote.
For his part, Trump was as bombastic and dishonest as ever. He claimed that his long-promised wall on the southern U.S. border was complete, although evidence and the naked eye proved him wrong long ago.
In addition to reaffirming the Big Lie that the 2020 election was rigged, Trump declared that he would pardon many of the convicted rioters who bombarded the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Despite the violence and the vows of some insurrectionists to hang former Vice President Pence, Trump incredulously said during the town hall that Pence was never in danger.
With Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis poised to level charges against Trump for trying to influence the outcome of the 2020 election in the Peach State, Trump doubled down on his false contentions. He even offered a defense to pressuring the secretary of state to “find” him more votes.
“Yeah, I called questioning the election,” Trump stated. “I said, ‘You owe me votes because the election was rigged.’”
Still, CNN released a statement praising the town hall’s host, Kaitlan Collins, for her “tough, fair, and revealing questions.”
“That is CNN’s role and responsibility: to get answers and hold the powerful to account,” the statement continued.
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, once a close friend of Trump’s, called the program “a disgraceful performance.”
“I’m constantly telling people not to catastrophize over Trump, that he’s actually going to lose because he keeps drilling down deeper and deeper into his base,” Scarborough railed. “It was disgraceful on every level. It showed—I wouldn’t say it’s dangerous for democracy because we passed that a long time ago—but it showed the corrosive effects of Trumpism over eight years.”
He continued: “The most shocking part was an audience who cheered on a [former] president who tried to overturn American democracy, an audience that mocked and ridiculed the woman who a jury of her peers, Donald Trump’s peers, found had been sexually assaulted.
“Those Americans, last night turned that into a punchline, laughed, and dismissed,” Scarborough added. “Cops getting the sh*t kicked out of them on January 6. Beaten up over and over again, calling a cop a thug who actually was trying to stop people from the House floor from being killed. I could go on. I just could go on and on. Basically [he said he] would turn over Ukraine to Vladimir Putin.”
Some Republicans also criticized the town hall. Republican Matt Whitlock, who worked for the late Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), said in a tweet that “Trump’s performance tonight had plenty of fun fodder for his biggest fans,” but it was “toxic nuclear waste for the moderates and independents he (and Republicans everywhere) should be winning as Biden collapses.”
According to Mediaite.com, Republican political consultant, Ryan Girdusky, predicted that Trump would lose the 2024 election. “Ten minutes into the CNN town hall, and it’s all January 6 and the stolen election,” Girdusky wrote on Twitter. “This election is gonna be all about Trump and he’s gonna lose… again.
“If Kaitlan Collins wanted to actually embarrass Trump in front of his voters she would talk about him never building the wall, shutting down the economy, and rising crime while he was president,” Girdusky added.
Stacy M. Brown is the NNPA Newswire national senior correspondent.
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