Donald Trump still lives rent-free in the collective heads of CNN.
Since CNN’s shakeup and merger last year, new CEO Chris Licht has led the cable news network to reinvent itself as a no-nonsense, politically centrist program.
CNN’s first significant opportunity to demonstrate itself as a network of facts since the shift in ownership was Wednesday’s town hall with Trump, led by Kaitlan Collins. Last year, Licht told CNBC that the network welcomes opinions from Democrats and Republicans but won’t have guests who peddle misinformation.
At the town hall in New Hampshire’s Saint Anselm College, Trump addressed the upcoming 2020 election, the state of the economy and foreign policy, and his legal woes.
When Trump started engaging with the combative Collins, who was supposed to be a moderator, not an adversary, it became clear the nube Collins was out of her league.
At one point, she tried to frame the president as the instigator of the violence on Jan 6. Trump would have none of it. He came with receipts, pulling out tweets he posted on Jan 5 where he called for calm and peace.
Collins kept interrupting Trump in a snippy manner, at which point Trump correctly characterized the crank as a “nasty person.”
After the CNN beat down, Gary Tuchman formed a focus group to grill them about the event and try to save CNN’s face.
He was taken aback by a Republican voter’s swift rejection of his criticism of former President Donald Trump’s answer to a question posed by Collins.
Tuchman asked the panel if they were put off by Trump still talking about 2020.
40-year-old Trump supporter and New Hampshire Republican Jonathan Leslie corrected the CNN hack, reminding him that Collins brought up 2020, not Trump.
Tuchman tried again, saying, wasn’t it incumbent on Trump to redirect Collins so he could focus on 2024?
Leslie retaliated instantly, noting again that Collins was obsessed with 2020, not Trump.
Tuchman was left butthurt as he moved on to the next voter.
It was a bad night for CNN.