Donald Trump on CNN: Wow
The shocking announcement was made earlier this week that former President Donald Trump will soon appear for an interview on CNN for the first time in many years. Trump will participate in a town hall event in New Hampshire on May 10, where he’ll be questioned by CNN host Kaitlan Collins, while also taking questions from a live audience of independent and Republican voters from that state.
Donald Trump spent much of his previous campaigns and presidency denouncing CNN as “fake news” and frequently feuding with various hosts and executives on the network. But with Trump on the outs once again with Fox News, and also reportedly trying to mend fences with the mainstream media, the ex-president will make his return to the news network next week.
It will mark Trump’s first interview or otherwise exclusive event with CNN since some time in 2016, although CNN reporters — including Collins herself, who was a White House correspondent then – often questioned him during press briefings when he was president. At one point, Trump’s press operation even tried to ban a CNN correspondent, Jim Acosta, from the White House.
According to a Vanity Fair story published this week about the negotiations that led to the town hall, while adding that Trump’s team has been reaching out to his former enemies in the mainstream media as the presidential campaign gets going.
“Going outside the traditional Republican ‘comfort zone’ was key to President Trump’s success in 2016. Some other candidates are too afraid to take this step in their quest to defeat Joe Biden, and are afraid to do anything other than Fox News,” a Trump adviser said in the Vanity Fair story. “CNN executives made a compelling pitch.”
How will fact-checking work during the event?
“We obviously can’t control what Donald Trump says—that’s up to him,” CNN political director David Chalian told Vanity Fair. “What we can do is prod, ask questions, follow up, and try to get as revealing answers as possible.” He added that CNN has approached “every major presidential candidate and potential candidate” about participating in a similar town hall.
According to The Washington Post, there’s quite a bit of unhappiness about Trump’s CNN return, both from both those who love and hate the former president.
In recent years, among some segments of the political left, there has been a belief that it is wrong to “platform” those with problematic views, and that “normalizing” Donald Trump had a lot to do with his victory in 2016 and his continued relevance in politics.
This attitude, however, sort of goes against the journalistic imperative to cover presidential candidates and implies that “ignoring” the Republican frontrunner is something that a media outlet could actually do. And besides, it takes it for granted that the job of a media organization is to stop Trump from winning which — contrary to the beliefs of those from across the political spectrum — is not the case.
Trump is a newsmaker, and news organizations are in the business of interviewing newsmakers. And Collins will have opportunities to ask about everything from Trump’s many cases of legal jeopardy to his election denial, to the civil rape trial he’s currently facing in New York.
There is also much belief that CNN has “moved to the center,” especially since its parent company was sold and became part of Warner Bros Discovery, and also due to the departure last year of CNN head Jeff Zucker, who ran the network during Trump’s presidency. While Trump and Zucker often clashed, the ex-executive has also been bashed for “coziness” with Trump, as the ex-president hosted “The Apprentice” while Zucker was running NBC.
Political scholar Norman Ornstein told the Post that CNN’s decision “legitimizes a man under indictment, currently on trial, with more indictments to come, who incited a violent insurrection against the country and its constitution and democracy.”
MAGA Is Upset at Donald Trump
The move to host Donald Trump on CNN also drew some fire from some on the right.
“Why is Trump throwing CNN a lifeline, an outlet that hates us?,” Breitbart writer John Nolte said on Twitter. “Why would he do this? Why would he help them? This is not okay. This is a Romney move.”
Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.