We cannot fault CNN interrogator Kaitlin Collins. She did a credible job, exhausting herself calling out every one of Trump’s 70-minute torrent of lies. CNN might even have done us a mitzvah (Yiddish for good deed) by showing Trump in all his inglorious bastardy. His delusions, ignorance and mindless stupidity was on display for all to see and process. Collins actually did us a service by not only allowing us to foresee the increased chaos Trump would bring with him to a second term, but shrewdly honing in on the cruelty of his policy proposals: he is all for defaulting on our debts; he wants to reprise separating migrant families; he would abandon Ukraine to his pal, Putin; he would pardon the January 6 traitors; and much more from this would-be autocrat’s chamber of horrors. The nation got to see exactly what it would get in the disastrous event Trump returned to the Oval Office.
Chris Licht, CNN’s new head honcho, deserves full-throated criticism, however, in having invited only Republicans, including strong representation from New Hampshire’s MAGAverse, to comprise most of the studio audience. Even there, CNN might have done the electorate a favor: seeing and hearing the huzzahs, applause and raucous laughter that accompanied Trump’s lies and doubling down on his extreme misogyny. This might prompt every lucid voter to distance him or herself from these delusional fanatics and their hero. Nevertheless, future forums might want to seat a more balanced studio audience.
Moreover, upcoming Trump town halls—and debate stages—should have readily available audio and video clips that refute Trump’s lies. When, for example, he claimed “I never asked for anything” during his infamous phone call to Georgia’s Secretary of State, CNN should have run the tape where he asked Brad Raffensberger to “find 11,780 votes….” Instant, irrefutable fact-checking in the form of the Trump’s own words would be devastating.
The mainstream media must not allow itself to be exploited and run roughshod over by an anti-democratic villain who labels the Fourth Estate “the enemy of the people.” It has to learn to fight back against this existential threat while sticking within the parameters of responsible journalism.
May 19, 2023