CNN is taking heat for the decision to air last night’s interview with Donald Trump. By most accounts, the interview was a disaster in which the former president ran wild, spewing nonsense and vitriol. Many believe CNN acted irresponsibly in allowing Trump, who tends to blur fact with fiction, to access such a wide-reaching platform.
But I don’t fault CNN.
CNN: A Mistake Made?
First, no one has a monopoly on the truth. In the left’s view, Trump should not be given a platform like CNN because he uses the platform to spread misinformation. But who determines what information is credible, or worthy of repeating? Most viewpoints rely on subjectivity; very few things relating to national political coverage are going to be purely objective fact. So, the idea that a network like CNN needs to be preserved only for truth sayers is pretty silly.
Case and point: networks like CNN spent the pandemic promoting COVID safety protocols that the scientific community has since deemed ineffective. But had you denounced those very same COVID protocols during the height of the pandemic, you would have been labeled as a spreader of misinformation; and had CNN decided to air your views, the network would have been criticized for lending its platform to the spread of misinformation.
Second, is there anyone anywhere who is still undecided about where they stand on Donald Trump? The most polarizing politicians in modern history drew a line in the sand almost a decade ago and people shuffled accordingly. One camp believes the words that come out of Trump’s mouth while the other camp does not believe the words that come out of Trump’s mouth. So, the functional impact of CNN airing a Trump interview, I suspect, is negligible. The needle isn’t going to move because public opinion has already calcified with respect to Trump and his rhetoric.
Three, Trump is as consequential as any single living person right now. Personally, I appreciate being offered a glimpse inside his thought process; I want to know where Trump is at because where Trump is at matters. I don’t agree with Trump in most respects, I’ve never voted for him – but he will most likely win the GOP nomination for 2024 and as an American citizen, I feel entitled to insights into the mindset of a major party candidate (and former president).
Four, what’s the alternative? Censor Trump? Pretend he doesn’t exist? As I just mentioned, Trump is a former president and major player in the upcoming election. Silencing him because you don’t agree with him cuts against the principles of democracy.
And silencing because you think he’s lying is a dangerous game (as mentioned above in point number one). In letting Trump speak you put the onus on the individual to decide how they feel. So, let Trump talk. And when you find yourself questioning his character or his morals or his honesty – don’t vote for him.
Five, for better or worse, media outlets are, first and foremost, profit-geared businesses. Airing an interview with the most controversial figure in modern US history (probably) makes sense from a business perspective. A lot of people are talking about CNN today – a lot more people than were talking about CNN yesterday, anyways.
And as Fox News will tell you, running a successful media outlet is not about being liked, but about being watched.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.