Democrats on Wednesday hit CNN after former President Trump’s town hall on the network, blasting the longtime cable news mainstay for giving the former president and current 2024 GOP front-runner a platform to double down on debunked election denial claims.
Trump hit a number of familiar talking points during the town hall, refusing to back down from claims that the 2020 election was rigged, even as moderator Kaitlan Collins pushed back against the debunked arguments, sometimes struggling to contain the former president. The event was attended by an audience of “Republicans and undeclared voters who tend to take part in New Hampshire’s Republican primary,” with the crowd frequently cheering Trump’s most aggressive attack lines.
During and after the broadcast, Democrats took to social media to blast CNN for the program. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said the network “should be ashamed.”
“They have lost total control of this ‘town hall’ to again be manipulated into platforming election disinformation, defenses of Jan 6th, and a public attack on a sexual abuse victim. The audience is cheering him on and laughing at the host,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) argued the network “learned nothing” in the aftermath of 2016 and 2020.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) said airing Trump’s town hall was giving a platform to a con man.
“CNN puts the nations biggest con man, grifter, misogynist, and threat to democracy on prime time for an hour,” Cohen tweeted.
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Trump also targeted Collins during the vent, saying she was a “nasty person” after she repeatedly asked him about his handling of classified documents. Former Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) lauded Collins for “doing a brilliant job pushing back.”
“Virtually everyone who is asking questions on CNN voted for Trump in 2020,” Speier tweeted. “How is this anything but free advertising for 1 hour for the Trump campaign?”
Former Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) criticized CNN for “journalistic malpractice.”
The network defended Collins in a statement on Thursday.
“Kaitlan Collins exemplified what it means to be a world-class journalist. She asked tough, fair and revealing questions,” the network said in a statement. “And she followed up and fact-checked President Trump in real time to arm voters with crucial information about his positions as he enters the 2024 election as the Republican frontrunner. That is CNN’s role and responsibility: to get answers and hold the powerful to account.”
Trump’s testy performance during the town hall was met with adulation from some of his most fervent supporters, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who said on Twitter she was “so proud of President Trump tonight.”
“He is truly showing everyone why he is the president America needs,” Greene said. “He is doing a town hall with CNN, who has attacked him more than anyone.”