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Liberals voiced their outrage at CNN on Wednesday after the network hosted a town hall with former President Donald Trump.
The town hall largely focused on the past — the 2020 presidential election, Jan. 6, and fact-checking what happened in Trump's presidency — and Trump's personal issues. At times, moderator Kaitlan Collins asked Trump questions related to current issues, like the border crisis, abortion, the war in Ukraine, and the debt ceiling.
It was Trump's first appearance on CNN since the 2016 presidential election.
What was the reaction?
Democrats, liberals, and Trump opponents lashed out at CNN and network executives for hosting Trump.
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.): "CNN should be ashamed of themselves. ... This was a choice to platform lies about the election & Jan 6th w/ no plan but to have their moderator interrupted without consequence."
- Rick Wilson: "This insanity should be pulled off the f***ing air. Chris Licht, you should be ashamed of yourself. ... CNN, what in the hot f*** were you thinking?"
- MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan: "Trump is mocking Carroll and the sexual abuse he was just found liable for, calling it 'hanky panky', and the audience is laughing. Disgusting stuff. Hope CNN bosses are proud."
- Wajahat Ali: "Trump calls Kaitlin Collins a 'nasty person' after she simply did a follow up. The audience laughed and clapped. Congrats, Chris Licht and CNN leadership. Bravo. What a way to treat your employees."
- Nikole Hannah-Jones: "Unbelievable that @CNN is running this town hall. ... Just massively ill-equipped for this."
- Keith Olbermann: "THE HINDENBURG OF TV NEWS: @CNN gave its credibility to Trump's madness It must fire CEO Chris Licht: its owners must sell the brand they destroyed."
- Mary Trump: "I'm furious. ... CNN is anti-American. ... Tonight's CNN fiasco was a tragedy for American democracy."
- Joy Behar: "This would only have been a decent idea if the audience was not filled with lunatics like Trump himself. ... What were they thinking over there at CNN?"
CNN employees, moreover, are upset about how the town hall went.
"It is so bad. I was cautiously optimistic despite the criticism. It is awful. It's a Trump infomercial. We're going to get crushed," one employee reportedly said.
Another reacted, "A disaster, and totally predictable."
Did it help Trump?
Part of what drove the anger toward CNN is the fact that the town hall almost certainly helped Trump's campaign because, as Politico reported, his "biggest liabilities never looked so small."
The audience of Republicans and independent voters often cheered for Trump, applauded him, and laughed at his jeering remarks.
"For Trump’s rivals, it was a foreboding scene. Here was the former president getting grilled on some of his biggest vulnerabilities, and if the room at St. Anselm College was any indication, it wasn’t hurting him at all," Politico observed.
The TV ratings for the town hall have not yet been released. But it's almost certain that it helped CNN, too.
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Chris Enloe is a staff writer for Blaze News