A CNN CEO has defended his controversial decision to host a town hall on his network starring former president Donald Trump, responding to progressive ideologues who allege that his decision to give the former president such a platform was irresponsible.
Former CNN host Brian Stelter reported remarks which he attributed to CNN CEO Chris Licht in a Twitter thread on Thursday, claiming that the comments were part of an editorial call from Licht to members of CNN’s staff.
“You do not have to like the former president’s answers, but you can’t say that we didn’t get them,” Licht tells staffers, many of whom are angry about the town hall. “Kaitlan pressed him again and again and made news. Made a LOT of news. [emphasis Stelter’s] … that is our job.”
Stelter continued, quoting Licht as saying that the enthusiastic audience members who clapped on Trump’s behalf represent “a large swath of America” and “an important part of the story,” saying that the media erred during the 2016 presidential election by allegedly ignoring these people.
Despite Licht’s adamant defense of the Trump town hall, many progressives are irate at the cable news network for giving a platform to the former president — including disgruntled members of CNN’s own staff. National politicians have also weighed in on the controversy, expressing disdain for Licht for allowing the former leader of the free world to speak on his network.
“‘Making news’ is not the same as covering news,” U.S. Rep. Alexandria “Sandy” Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter in response to Stelter’s account of Licht’s remarks. “When one wishes to become a participant in events (ie. ‘making’ news), they become the story and sacrifice the pretense of a neutral observer. Also no one got answers. It was 70 [minutes] of steamrolled propaganda, [especially] on abortion & [sexual assault].”
“It was a disservice to democracy, but also a major harm for women, survivors, & people who rely on repro rights. CNN allowing sexual assault to be treated like a joke to an applauding audience is egregious. At this point it’s not [about] Trump- we know him. It’s [about] the programming,” Ocasio-Cortez continued.
Many personalities affiliated with CNN competitor MSNBC also took the occasion to criticize the rival left-leaning news network.
“This was not Kaitlin Collins’ fault. The format was impossible and CNN’s bosses should have known that,” said MSNBC contributor Charlie Sykes. “Chris Licht is rapidly becoming the Elon Musk of CNN.”
“I’m sorry, but this is just a brazen & dangerous dereliction of journalistic duty. We’ve gone from CNN telling hosts not to refer to election denialism on air as ‘the big lie’ to now having election deniers pushing the big lie/2020 conspiracies without any pushback from the host!” remarked MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan.
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