Chris Licht of CNN Defends Decision to Host Trump Town Hall

CNN chairman Chris Licht on Thursday issued a staunch defense of his decision to live-stream his town hall with former President Donald J. Trump, but the chaotic and intimidating event came from inside and outside the network. provoked criticism.

At a network-wide editorial meeting, Licht praised host Caitlan Collins for a “superb performance” before acknowledging public backlash. “We all know that coverage of Donald Trump is messy and awkward and will continue to be messy and awkward,” he said. “But that’s our job.”

“I absolutely and unequivocally believe that the United States has done a very good job by our actions last night,” Licht added. “People woke up and understood the stakes of this election differently than they did the day before. And if someone is going to ask a tough question and have such an awkward conversation, it will be on CNN.” should.”

During Wednesday’s prime time broadcast of the town hall, Mr. Trump rolled out one falsehood after another, sometimes too fast for the host to intercept.

Collins repeatedly interrupted and corrected Trump, accusing him of lying about the 2020 election fraud and describing the Jan. 6 Capitol riots as a “great day.” But Trump often spoke directly to her. Live audiences made up of Republicans and Republican-leaning independent voters often cheered for Mr. Collins, even when he derided him as a “asshole.”

“It would have been uncomfortable for all of us to hear people clapping, but that was also an important part of the story,” Licht said Thursday. And the mistake the media has made in the past is ignoring those people. It is the same as not ignoring the existence of President Trump. “

Critics said it was reckless to offer a live forum to Trump given his track record of spreading misinformation. Even the network’s commentators seemed surprised by what happened over the air. “We don’t have enough time to fact-check all the lies he’s told,” Jake Tupper told viewers Wednesday night.

Licht, who took over last year after CNN was acquired by Warner Bros. Discovery, has had a rocky tenure, with some journalists publicly saying the network had leaned too far toward anti-Trump stances. was furious at his comment. When Trump was in the White House. Licht said CNN needs to appeal to more moderate and conservative voters, and that strategy has the backing of company bosses.

There were signs of eruptions of dissatisfaction with City Hall inside CNN on Thursday. The network’s own media newsletter, Reliable Sources, released a harsh assessment after the event, stating that it was “unable to understand how the false spectacle that aired on CNN Wednesday evening affected America.” is difficult,” he said.

The newsletter cites several critical posts on social media about the Trump forums, including choosing a town hall-style format that allows voters to jeer at host Collins at will. This included some observers denouncing the

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