What this week’s CNN “town hall” proved is that right now, this is not a Republican presidential primary. It’s a Donald Trump vs. Enemy of the People Media melee.
Even during the program, which was curiously cut off 20 minutes early, journalists and Democrats were stewing. Apparently it was supposed to go a certain way, and it didn’t. Contrary to media expectations, Trump didn’t collapse under relentless pestering from the moderator, and the attendees invited by CNN weren’t impressed by it, either.
The live audience was, weirdly enough, made up of Republicans who don’t spend every waking moment in a spitting rage, forever with hate for Trump at the forefront of their minds. Unlike every journalist in Washington, they actually seemed to enjoy themselves, getting to view the former president up close and watching him perform in a dynamic environment. I use the word “dynamic” to generously describe the constant yapping from CNN chihuahua Kaitlan Collins, who facilitated audience questions, but, at the instruction of her bosses and peers, had to insert a patronizing, “No, Mr. President! You are WRONG!” at the end of every one of Trump’s answers.
Whether I think Trump performed poorly or well tells you nothing. That the media were so disappointed with the entire event says everything.
The New York Times described the affair as “tough sledding” for Collins, who “had to battle the crowd and the candidate simultaneously.”
Politico similarly wrote that CNN had put Collins in a “no-win situation.”
The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple, a man in his upper 50s who somehow finds fulfillment in writing daily about petty media drama, fretted that “CNN hasn’t figured this thing out.”
It all raises the question: What would a “win” have looked like for Collins and CNN? And why was it her job to “battle” either the candidate or the audience?
Obvious answer: Because they no longer see elections as choices for voters. They see them as existential fights in which the media must preserve its high place in the ossified power structure of Washington (made up of Democrat bureaucrats, Democrat intelligence officials, and Democrat military contractors). For seven years, Trump and, more importantly, his supporters, have threatened it. A second term for him will further erode it.
But the self-generated problem for the media is that on the one hand, they’re open about their interests and position in the upcoming election — they will actively oppose Trump’s candidacy (or, ultimately, whoever wins the GOP nomination, which is likely Trump). On the other, they continue to insist that they’re simply purveyors of information, dispassionately documenting current affairs.
Both can’t be true. It’s either one or the other. We know which one it is. We know which one they’re truly committed to.
Kaitlan Collins is a nag but she wasn’t the problem. CNN is trash but that it hosted a town hall with a former president running for office again also wasn’t the problem.
The problem is that the media, including CNN, along with its chihuahua, have made their own jobs impossible. The moaning and complaining over every live Trump event will only grow more hysterical. That’s assuming the media will even dare to host them anymore.