A video taken at Wednesday night’s CNN Town Hall with Donald Trump shows the host, Kaitlan Collins, standing backstage seething as the crowd cheers the former president after the event. The enthusiastic standing ovation from Trump fans was an uncomfortable end to a disastrous event for the cable news company.
While members of the media have been sympathetic toward Collins, the consensus across the political spectrum is that CNN’s decision to hold a town-hall-formatted event — which devolved into a debate — with the former president was a major miscalculation.
The liberal website Slate.com put it simply: “Donald Trump’s CNN Town Hall Was A Disaster.” (They didn’t mean for Trump.)
Amanda Carpenter at the “Never Trump” media outlet The Bulwark wrote, “It should not be too much to expect that a major news organization that seeks to set a high standard for credibility not provide an insurrectionist and his friends a hosted room where they all can whoop it up and laugh about sexual assault, among other things.”
Matthew Dowd, a George W. Bush campaign strategist turned Democratic pundit, had one of the harshest critiques:
“If a young child is known to light fires, and then I hand the child a box of matches and gasoline, and leave the house for an hour, it seems ludicrous for me to come in the house an hour later and shout ‘can you believe he burned down the house?!’ This is CNN and Trump.”
Even inside CNN, they see the event as a fiasco, according to reporting by The Daily Beast. They anonymously quote an on-air personality: “It is so bad. I was cautiously optimistic despite the criticism. It is awful. It’s a Trump infomercial. We’re going to get crushed.”