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If CNN Were Capable of Feeling Shame, This Would Be a Very Hard Time for Them

Kaitlan Collins wears a white suit while interviewing Donald Trump on a stage.

On Wednesday evening, CNN hosted a town hall-style bit of performative pageantry, giving Donald Trump a massive platform to spew lies, bigotry, misogyny, and all manner of the exact kind of awfulness any thinking person would expect.

The event was hosted by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, dressed in a palpably symbolic white pantsuit, who did her best to call out Trump’s lies in real-time, but that was always going to be a futile task. Sure, she can say “Mr. President, that’s not accurate” after basically every sentence out of his mouth (and she did) but why was she put in that situation? Why did any of this happen? CNN has plenty of articles up fact-checking the liar they put on that stage, knowing the kinds of things would say. The whole thing was a masturbatory ouroboros of ratings-chasing and lies.

CNN put Trump on stage and on television as if he were any other Republican candidate, making it clear we’ve learned exactly nothing since 2016. Even worse, the network filled the audience with enough Trump supporters to guarantee the room would feel like one of his rallies—maybe more intimate than most but no less enthusiastic. The crowd cheered when Trump called Collins a “nasty person” and they laughed when he called writer E. Jean Carroll—whom, just one day earlier, he had been found liable of sexually abusing in a department store dressing room in the 1990s—a “whack job.”

This was nothing short of Trump propaganda and CNN put it on TV.

Over the course of an hour, Trump repeatedly said the 2020 presidential was “rigged.” He refused to say if he would accept the results in 2024 if he lost, only saying he would accept that if he were personally convinced the election was valid, not giving any indication of how that would be possible. He celebrated himself for getting Roe v. Wade overturned and he defended the infamous Access Hollywood tape in which he bragged about being able to sexually assault women on the basis of his celebrity.

He also disparaged E. Jean Carroll at length, repeating past denials of even knowing her, despite, again, having just been found liable in court for abusing and defaming her. Trump then seemed to contradict and implicate himself in a gross attempt to shame Carroll, saying “What kind of a woman meets somebody and brings them up and within minutes you’re playing hanky panky in a dressing room.” (The audience again laughed and cheered at that.)

Trump also addressed immigration, lying about having built a border wall and also admitting that the cruelty was always the point in his administration’s dedication to separating families of immigrants. “When you say to a family that if you come we’re going to break you up, they don’t come,” he said.

There was literally no redeeming angle for this decision from CNN. This event benefitted no one who doesn’t want to see Trump back in office. That obviously includes CNN, which still has a reputation in most people’s minds as being legitimate and even liberal, despite their recent head-first lurch into fully right-wing territory.

CNN’s president Chris Licht reportedly couldn’t be happier with how things played out:

That CNN is using its remaining air of legitimacy to help re-elect Donald Trump is truly terrifying. The 2016 fear-flashbacks are strong and they are not unwarranted.

(featured image: screenshot)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.