And the Donald Trump Show Must Go On – “You know you’re a nasty person!” Former President Donald J. Trump exclaimed in an exasperated manner at CNN anchor, Kaitlin Collins. That was after having endured her incessant caterwauling about Trump’s claims on everything from the rigged election 2020 claims to the former president’s take on the January 6 riots to his over-the-top commentary on E. Jean Carroll, the New York journalist who accused Donald Trump of raping her at a Bergdorf Goodman store in the mid-1990s to Trump’s “perfect” 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
What the Hell Is Going On?
From beginning to end, the entire CNN townhall with Trump was a laborious affair.
It was a redux of the best parts of the 2016 Presidential Campaign that catapulted Trump to the top of the Republican ticket.
The audience, which was comprised of largely Republican and some undecided New Hampshire voters, applauded and laughed at every one of Trump’s lines of the night. Clearly, the GOP base is as strongly in favor of Trump as ever.
Yet, as someone who lived through the 2016 experience, who saw the promise of the Trump Campaign give way to the sad reality of the first Trump term in office, I cannot help but be dreadfully bored. Trump’s performance was not only boring—a rehash of all that came before—but CNN should have known better than to tee the former president up the way they did.
Contrary to what all the geniuses in the mainstream media think, Kaitlin Collins delivered an abysmal, utterly headache-inducing performance as the moderator of the townhall.
Collins came off as both rude and petty. She played horribly off Trump, too. At least when Megyn Kelly went after Trump in 2016, there was some witty one-liners exchanged. Not the case with Collins. Who, like all my fellow Millennials, can’t just make light of a bad situation in the moment. It’s all doom-and-gloom all the time.
Though, to be clear: this event has already set the tone for how the 2024 Election will be, if Trump is, in fact, the GOP nominee.
Feeding the Orange Fireball His Grievance Fuel
Collins’ decision to open the nearly two-hour event with a series of predictable attacks on Trump did little service to the national discourse. It just allowed for Trump to suck all the oxygen out of the room.
His comments were predictable (which is why I say they’ve become stale). And he vamped. If CNN was trying to make Trump look bad, it didn’t work. At this point, it doesn’t really matter if he didn’t resonate with independent voters (judging from some of the faces of the young men and a few of the young men in the audience, there were some people who did not appreciate the former president’s glib attitude). What matters is how Trump resonates with Republican primary voters.
We did not get an actual question on the economy, inflation, Ukraine, or any other matter of substance until nearly 18 minutes. These are the issues that will impact Americans for the next half century.
Yet, they were merely peppered in between Collins’ obnoxious—and amateur—attempts at “gotcha” questions and Trump’s endless tirades against all the injustices being foisted upon him. As I’ve written before, there have been numerous unfair investigations and blatantly false accusations lobbed against the former president.
Trump’s obsession with victimhood is tiresome. Spending his time on CNN ranting about the past was just pathetic. Where was his vision of the future? Where was the hopefulness? If things are so hopeless, then why should any of us Republicans vote for anyone?
There Trump was, slouched in his chair, pulling out printouts of his old Twitter feed, in which he simply read them off, in a vain attempt to disabuse viewers of Collins’ accusation that Trump supported the J6 protesters.
It’s like The Sopranos; it’s over. Let it go. 2024 is shaping up to be a much less fun version of the 2016 Presidential Campaign—and this time, Trump just might be more competitive against Joe Biden than he was in 2020. Then again, he might not be. It doesn’t really matter because if it’s Trump vs. Biden again, We, The People, lose.
What, precisely, did we get out of Trump’s display other than the vitriolic recriminations of an old man?
Expect the same silliness from the even older Joe Biden whenever he deigns to meander before the press again.
End the Gerontocracy Now
I, for one, want out. I want to put Biden and Trump in the old folks’ home, set them up with endless cable television, give Trump a large diet coke, let Biden have his ice cream, place a big, beautiful game of Bingo in front of the two crotchety old men, and have them duke it out in the nursing home until the lights go out.
Meanwhile, those of us who can string together a sentence will actually go about resolving the very many problems that the Baby Boomer generation (generally speaking) caused.
The question of who benefited from the CNN townhall is a matter of perspective. Sure, it served Trump well with Republican voters. Did it help him with independents? We shall see. Did the media come off looking any less corrupt than it has the last few years? Nope. Was the republic bettered by it? Not even close. Were voters better informed by the experience? Don’t make me laugh.
Alas, the townhall event drew an astonishing 3.1 million viewers. According to Nielsen Ratings, this made CNN the most-watched news network of the evening. Expect much more of this. We’re going on this merry-go-round again. The results in the second Trump term will be almost identical to that of his first term.
The only real loser in this pantomime was undoubtedly Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who missed his opportunity to announce his bid for the presidency and is now being negatively framed both by Trump and the media as a loser. The next election is likely to be the last free election this country has—and we’re all blowing it on this grumpy old men stuff.
But, hey, the ratings are gold, Jerry! Gold! So, irrespective of what the rational among us want—or even what the Trump-hating Lefties who control our media desire—the Trump show must go on. There’s simply too much money to be made.
A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.