Five key takeaways from CNN’s divisive town hall meeting with Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump made his first live appearance on CNN since 2016 on Wednesday when he sat down with the network’s Kaitlan Collins in the state of New Hampshire early in the Republican primary.

What happened during the nearly 90-minute broadcast was almost nostalgic, as Collins was unable to make the former president’s verifications hold up amid a seemingly endless cascade of lies spun by an unrepentant Trump.

Let’s take a look at exactly why the former president’s return to mainstream cable news on Wednesday was so significant, and why CNN was facing jeers from all sides before the night was out:

Trump crushes Collins

Kaitlan Collins made a serious attempt to ensure the truth got as much air time as Donald Trump’s falsehoods during her moderation of the event on Wednesday, but sometimes a serious attempt backfires.

That’s what happens when your network deceives a journalist; Fighting a rowdy crowd that seemed almost exclusively in the former president’s corner, Collins was often overshadowed by cheers and jeers as she tried to shoehorn last-second corrections after Trump’s various rants. She also found herself without support from the control room or the CNN production team in general, who left her with no way to obtain examples of factual information, statements from Trump appointees, and other useful media items that would have helped her. a lot. -Verification of efforts.

As a result, the town hall on many occasions resembled the first Joe Biden-Donald Trump debate of the 2020 cycle, when moderators came under fire for allowing Trump to constantly talk about his opponent. In the end, the CNN anchor had been labeled a “nasty person” by Trump on his own network as her supporters roared their approval.

The production was roundly criticized by other journalists and by Democrats, especially as the interview continued, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling the show “irresponsible.”

Trump also tramples the truth

There seemed to be no end to the whitewashing in which Trump participated on Wednesday night. He called the deadly attack on January 6 a “beautiful day,” and his supporters reportedly threw themselves against barricades and police shields with “love” in their hearts. He repeated his long-discredited conspiracies about 2020, despite Collins’s reminder that he hadn’t proven any of his claims in court (the CNN host failed to mention that Trump’s own lawyer had admitted not having any evidence).

He even lied about allegedly issuing an order to deploy thousands of troops on January 6, an order that his own defense chief later testified never came.

E Jean Carroll faces furious attacks and accusation of racism from Trump

The former president made no secret of his disgust at a New York jury’s decision this week to find him liable for sexual abuse in the case brought by author E Jean Carroll. He repeatedly denounced her as someone he supposedly had never met, while he accused her of calling her own husband a word with racist connotations.

Little of this was “verified” by CNN; Instead, Collins asked her if she was sorry that he did not testify himself at the trial. Trump described Ms. Carroll’s lawsuit as “election interference,” even though the election is more than a year away.

The Access Hollywood tape is back

In easily the most surreal moment of the night, Mr. Trump gave perhaps his longest philosophical defense yet of his infamous “grab ’em by the ****” comment.

That comment, which emerged in the fall of 2016 just weeks before voters elected him to the White House for four years, was made during a conversation on the set of a access to hollywood recording would continue to haunt Trump long after.

But on Wednesday, Trump went into excruciating detail about that comment: He wasn’t talking about his own personal behavior, he claimed, nor was he talking (allegedly) about non-consensual encounters. Instead, the former US president argued, he was simply making a point about the power of money and how wealthy men use it to attract women, albeit in the crudest way possible.

Whether that explanation was believable is another story entirely, but it was remarkable to hear it out loud.

Trump applauds default as debt ceiling deadline approaches

The former president gave a lot of ammunition to his far-right allies in the US House of Representatives when he spoke about the economy on Wednesday. Asked by Collins about the GOP’s debt ceiling negotiating strategy on Capitol Hill, Trump replied that Republicans may need to force the United States into defaulting on its credit obligations to rein in spending. And he made the bizarre prediction that such a decision may have no real negative effects, calling the possible economic catastrophe nothing more than “psychological” problems.

“We have to start paying down the debt… I tell Republicans, congressmen, senators, that if they don’t make massive cuts, they’re going to have to default, and I don’t think they’re going to default because I think the Democrats will absolutely relent because you don’t want that to happen, but it’s better than what we’re doing now because we’re spending money like drunken sailors,” he told CNN.

Expect Republicans to guard up and be more willing to risk missing the June 1 deadline after which the federal government won’t be able to pay obligations to its creditors with the support of the former president, knowing that his party enjoys a small majority in the House.

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