Coop Scoop: Four Ugly Takeaways from the CNN Trump Love Fest
The CNN Town Hall was a great example of everything broken in media and politics
May 11, 2023
By Marc Cooper
The 75 minutes of the CNN Trump Town Hall Wednesday night was one of the ugliest exhibits in the recent history of the diseased media/political complex with which we are saddled.
1). Donald Trump is not only unchanged but he is worse and more dangerous than ever. When asked gingerly by CNN host Kaitlin Collins about a series of high profile controversies in which he is enmeshed ranging from being found liable for sexual assault, to the Mar-A-Lago papers, to his view of January 6, the ex-president responded with fury and vigor, fulminating that he is innocent of whatever you accuse him of and that he has nothing to apologize for or revise. It’s all, drumroll, a witch hunt by Radical Left Democrats.
He continues to lie. He continues to offer support for the seditionists of January 6. He says he has no problem if the US defaults on the debt limit, and he danced around the question of a national abortion ban. He falsely accused Democrats of advocating abortion not only in the final week of pregnancy but also supporting post-birth “abortions.” He refused continued support for Ukraine. He is 100 percent unhinged and lives in his own construct.
Trump made no concessions or entreaties to any constituency beyond his hard core MAGA base and militants. For anybody paying attention and sitting through this exercise, you could clearly see that the front runner for the presidential nomination of the Republican Party is not only erratic, unstable, ignorant and aggressive but he’s also a committed partisan of an authoritarian regime that he greatly desires to lead.
2) The MSM is one more piece of antiquated, decaying American infrastructure that cannot meet today’s challenges to democracy and freedom. Clearly, legacy media has had a couple of bad decades as the world went digital. There are still some surviving remnants of that obsolete news model. Some, a few, like the New York Times that was smart enough to scoop up and employ every digital innovator they could find, are flourishing. When it comes to broadcast news there are two mainstream camps — neither one in particularly robust health. The three major networks do a soporific half hour national news show every nite aimed at an audience starting to nod out on Geritol after their 4 pm supper. Can you even name the three anchors? The other TV news camp is also run by the same networks, plus CNN, and do “cable news.” Which for the most part is no longer really cable and often hardly news. Not to mention there are literally dozens of Tik Tok and Youtube influencers with audiences much larger than some of the cable networks. Fox is 95% propaganda. MSNBC carries some real news but also a few too many uncritical dupes for the administration (I’m looking at you Joy Reid) and CNN is just a ‘round the clock mess,
CNN’s political coverage is a leftover from 1988. That’s because CNN is a dying institution that is approaching formal brain death. Virtually nothing has changed except replacing a few of the reliable, horrible conventional, talking heads that have passed on to the great Green Room in the sky with a new batch of empty talkers. Paralyzed by its unimaginative formats, hobbled by the shibboleth that there is something called “objective” news, CNN often veers frighteningly close to a SNL parody of itself.
I think Kaitlin Collins did an OK if not spectacular job. But she had an impossible task. CNN is not prepared to properly deal with a slime ball criminal like Trump and Collins has also never been taught how to. And she was put in a position with very tight margins for maneuver.
There is no law, no rule, no obligation that any news media must cover anything about campaigns and elections. They cover them the way they choose. Donald Trump is like no other presidential candidate in history. No candidate has run for re-election after a double impeachment, after a criminal indictment with more to come, after his company has been found liable for fraud, after his entire intimate entourage are now felons, after being proven over and over again that everything he says is a lie, and while he is under federal investigation for stealing classified docs and plotting to overthrow a democratic election for which he faces imminent indictment. By November 2024, the nominee might also already be a convicted criminal.
It seems to me that a real news organization would cover Trump in this actual and very unique context instead of the fairy tale approach by CNN that he’s just one more candidate to be treated like everyone else. Even if he has plotted to overthrow democracy and establish some sort of dictatorship.
Today, the day after being found liable by law for sexual abuse and hit with a $5M judgment, would be the perfect time for CNN to do an investigative special about him, not giving him an open mike for fuck’s sake!
One final point regarding CNN. This was not a campaign event organized by Trump that CNN chose to cover as news. No, CNN cut this from whole cloth. CNN created the TV show and called it a Town Hall. CNN invited Trump with no restrictions. And CNN hand picked the 400 yo-yos whose asses filled the audience chairs. CNN made sure there were zero Trump antagonists in the hall. How proud they must be.
3) The New Hampshire and its Audience Erodes All Faith In Humanity. You know, as a political reporter, I have spent time, way too much time, in New Hampshire. How did this semi-frozen clump of a state get such a great political reputation? How many times have you heard how savvy and clever and independent these flinty, hearty no bullshit New Englanders are? Gag with me a spoon. The best part of NH is that there’s no state income tax which encourages many Bostonians to make the cross border commute. And that’s about it.
What a skip load of crap that the Granite State is some sort of reliable early indicator of anything except a nasty winter! New Hampshire is a pleasant place like most of the Northeast when it is not 10 degrees below zero and covered in eleven feet of snow. But having interviewed dozens of New Hampshire pols and voters, I find them to be as generally clueless and confused about American politics as folks in the other 49 states. They demonstrate no special skills of political consciousness.
Why oh why has the media decided that this puny state of less than 1.5 million, 93% white, and bereft of a single major metropolis has anything significant to teach us about any national presidential cycle? Off hand I can name 5 or 6 former presidential candidates who either won in a NH primary or came mighty close to beating the incumbent and ...yet…not one of them went on to win the national election. And that list includes Hillary Clinton. And John McCain. And Pat Buchanan and Gene McCarthy and…oh…Paul Tsongas! So, really, who gives AF what NH thinks 18 months before a national vote?
The 400 people in the audience were all picked one by one, hand-picked, by those moral paragons – the CNN producers. We were told they were all Republicans or Undecided Independents. And while I do not have the evidence, I believe ALL of them had voted for Trump in 2020. Y’ think CNN might disclose such info, but nooooo.
As it turns out, and because this was an obviously phony “Town Hall,” this benighted crowd got to ask a grand total of maybe 4 or 5 questions during the 75 minute show totaling maybe 5% of the airtime? I would calculate that Collins occupied about another 25-30% and the other 65-70% was Pure Trump. The audience questions were limp and pointless for the most part and created zero problem for Trump. He was most thrown off only toward the end of the show when Collins pushed him hard on the classified docs but he just talked loudly over her and poured out a couple more barrels of horse manure that she did not even have time to critique or answer.
When Trump first took the stage, the audience —the CNN stage props-- dutifully gave him a standing ovation, letting the viewing public know right away this would be a love fest and not to expect much more. They laughed and chuckled when Trump joked about his bad days in court, they applauded most of his answers and statements and heartily cheered when he framed Ashli Babbitt as a martyred hero – the young lady shot dead by police on January 6 when she tried to crawl through a broken window in a locked door to get at some assembled congressmembers.
Obviously, this was a ruby red almost sub-verbal audience of Trumpies. They are not representative of millions of others who have a much more critical view of this criminal psycho.
4) We are not necessarily headed for fascism…not necessarily. But at a minimum, we now live in a country where just about half or at least a third of the people have mentally detached themselves from American democracy and are now active, or passive, enthusiasts and supporters of a xenophobic, know-nothing form of domestic fascism championed by a psychopathic liar and cheater. They cannot be negotiated with. There is no dialogue with them. There is no winning them over. They are there only to be carefully monitored, managed, isolated, confronted and hopefully, somehow, politically crushed. Make no mistake, the 2024 election is going to be evey bit a shit show as 2016 and 2020 because the Chief Turd is still going to be one of the candidates. We better take this stuff seriously or we will be paying a high price if Trump somehow gets re-elected.
P.S. As I write this I just caught Stephanie Ruhle on MSNBC with a great intro. She said she would refuse to recap the CNN Town Hall as all the lies Trump told we have heard 100 times before. Instead, she said, what we really need to do is sit down and have journalists figure just how to go forward in reporting on this guy as the old forms just don’t work. Kudos for her.
I got enthused until she turned to her panel that included NBC uber-hack Yamiche Alcindor and former NBC-turned-WaPo hack Lee Ann Caldwell (two of the very worst of beltway reporters). Guess what? They had absolutely nothing new to say and did not even attempt any serious answer to Ruhle’s challenge. Genius Alcindor chimed in: “We have to do better fact-checking.” Gee, thanks. ++++
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P.S. A special treat, I am including this video response to the Town Hall by the one and only Steve Schmidt (to whose substack, The Warning) you should also subscribe). It just crossed my desk as I was about to send this and I wanted to share it. I agree 100%.