CNN Criticized for Giving Trump Platform to Spread Falsehoods in Town Hall Event

CNN faced criticism following its prime-time broadcast of a town hall event with former President Donald Trump, with many accusing the network of giving him a platform to spread falsehoods without adequate fact-checking.[0] The event, which drew 3.3 million viewers according to Nielsen figures, saw Trump repeat false claims about the 2020 election and engage in what some described as a “modified Trump campaign rally.” CNN CEO Chris Licht defended the decision to host the event, stating that it served America well, but many inside and outside the network disagreed.[1] “It's hard to see how America was served by the spectacle of lies that aired on CNN Wednesday evening,” wrote Oliver Darcy in CNN’s daily media newsletter, Reliable Sources.[2]

Critics argued that CNN’s format enabled Trump's filibustering and prevented real-time fact-checking, giving him free rein to present a dishonest rehashing of his record.[3] Some compared the program to a modified Trump campaign rally, which Zucker, the network’s president, had previously said he regretted airing.[3] The event was held in front of a Republican audience that applauded Trump, giving a sense of unintended endorsement to his shameful antics, Darcy wrote.[4]

While some have tried to blame the moderator, Kaitlan Collins, for not correcting some of the more glaring falsehoods, the format of the event made it difficult for her to do so.[4] Trump treated the town hall like a rally, a combination of stand-up set and gaslighting session, making it challenging for Collins to interrupt him with various fact checks, which only turned him and the audience more against her as the night went on.[5]

The event's high ratings figure represented more than three times the viewers CNN has recorded in the past weeks, but it was less than the size of the audience that has watched Trump events on Fox News and other networks over the years.[0] The telecast proved to be a ratings disappointment, with Nielsen reporting just 3.1 million viewers overall.[3] That was a big boost over CNN’s typical 8 p.m. telecast, but a smaller audience than CNN’s town hall with President Biden last summer and six previous Trump town halls carried by Fox News, calling into question both CNN and Trump’s drawing power.[3]

The event renewed questions about how the news media will handle the challenge of covering the serial falsehoods of the Republican Party’s leading candidate going into the 2024 election.[6] With Trump now considered the GOP frontrunner, media outlets will have to determine how to cover his campaign without giving him a platform to spread lies and falsehoods. The path leading up to the 2024 Election Day appears to be more perilous than ever before.[7]

0. “Trump celebrates CNN town hall ratings: ‘Many minds were changed’” The Hill, 12 May. 2023,

1. “Trump's CNN town hall showed us the wrong way to interview a lying president. There’s a right way.” Slate, 11 May. 2023,

2. “CNN's own employees are disparaging the Trump town hall” POLITICO, 11 May. 2023,

3. “CNN leadership under fire after ‘disastrous' Trump town hall” The Washington Post, 12 May. 2023,

4. “CNN Boss Doubles Down on Disastrous Trump Town Hall” The Daily Beast, 11 May. 2023,

5. “The CNN Trump town hall was nothing more than GOP propaganda” MSNBC, 11 May. 2023,

6. “On CNN, lying Trump was a late-night comedian for an America I didn’t recognize” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 11 May. 2023,

7. “CNN + Trump Is A 2024 Election Disaster Waiting to Happen” TIME, 11 May. 2023,

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments