2 Polar Opposites Defend CNN's Town Hall With Trump

Trump himself says network 'did the right thing'; CNN's Anderson Cooper takes heat for his defense
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2023 9:05 AM CDT
Trump on CNN Town Hall: 'It Was an Honor to Do It'
Former President Donald Trump speaks at CPAC on March 4 at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Criticism on CNN's contentious town hall with former President Trump continues to bubble up, including frustration from inside CNN and backlash against CEO Chris Licht, who has come out in defense of how Wednesday night's broadcast went. Trump himself is now praising the network, telling Fox News Digital he "was happy to do [the event]," which he says enabled him to "[get] the word out to millions of people that would generally not hear" his take on matters of importance. "CNN is taking a lot of heat," Trump acknowledged, though he added, "I think CNN did the right thing by putting me on—all you have to do is look at their fantastic ratings."

Perhaps the most surprising statement from Trump, who before Wednesday hadn't appeared in a CNN event since 2016: "It was an honor to do it." In addition to Licht, CNN's Anderson Cooper also tried to "quell the backlash" against the town hall, per the Wrap, which noted Cooper's defense isn't going over well in some corners. On the air Thursday, the CNN host conceded that Trump had "[spewed] lie after lie after lie" during the event and taken part in other antics, including calling moderator Kaitlan Collins "nasty," defending J6 rioters, and mocking writer E. Jean Carroll, whom a jury ruled just a day earlier that he'd sexually abused and defamed. "I get it. It was disturbing," Cooper noted of all of the above.

He then went on to address the anger now directed at CNN for offering Trump a platform, noting the former president is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination. "And that audience that upset you? That's a sampling of about half the country," Cooper said. "You have every right to be outraged today and angry and never watch this network again. But do you think staying in your silo and only listening to people you agree with is going to make that person go away?" Commenters on Twitter accused Cooper of "gaslighting," and some brought up what they thought the real reasons may have been for CNN agreeing to the town hall. "Imagine thinking anyone on Earth already hasn't heard what [Trump] has to say," an On Discourse writer noted, per the Wrap. "This isn't about news, it's a desperate ploy for ratings by a network in crisis." (More Donald Trump stories.)

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