You mean he might not do a GOP primary debate with other Republicans on Fox News, but he’s signed up to do a townhall forum on CNN of all places?
The “he” being Donald Trump, whose decision last week to appear before (or alongside?) the enemy on Wednesday this week is still generating buzz in conservative circles. Everyone who’s been awake and paying attention for the past (almost) eight years knows that the mainstream corporate establishment media has been no friend to the longtime real estate developer-turned first-time politician-turned President of the United States, so the fact that Trump seems to have reversed course on his no-CNN policy is somewhat surprising, if not shocking.
Ultra-liberal MSNBC is perhaps the worst TV anti-Trump offender, but folks expect the contrarian leftist-oriented network to do its Trump-hatred with the flare of embittered liberals who never spare the vitriol while shoving the truth down to the nether regions. CNN, according to one wayward Republican family member, was once thought of as more “neutral” than the aforementioned cable channel, but its middle-of-the-road reputation was sacrificed somewhere along the line (if indeed it ever had one, that is).
Conservatives can hardly stand switching to CNN, and the channel’s pathetic ratings broadly reflect our ideology-based displeasure. Nonetheless, the network bosses managed to convince conservative/populist star Trump to give them invaluable exclusive airtime. In a piece titled “‘Best Friends With Woke Media,’ Trump Agrees to CNN Interview”, the increasingly reliable-for-a-relevant-scoop Philip Wegmann reported at Real Clear Politics:
“If peace has indeed broken out between Trump and CNN, they will bury the hatchet at New Hampshire’s Saint Anselm College. The town hall will be moderated by CNN host Kaitlan Collins, an alum of the conservative Daily Caller, a website started by Tucker Carlson. The sit-down comes as Trump offers an implicit détente to the media. His campaign has invited numerous reporters from legacy media outlets to fly along on his plane to campaign events. DeSantis, meanwhile, continues to turn a cold shoulder to those outlets...
“More than just a strategic choice, DeSantis takes opposition to mainstream media outlets as an article of faith. ‘Don’t think that they’re coming to you in good faith,’ he said in a broadside attack against the press while onstage with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds earlier this year...
“Before he accepted an invitation to the network that he loved to hate, former Vice President Mike Pence sat down with CNN. So did Republican businessman and 2024 presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who got into a contentious debate with liberal commentator Don Lemon…”
“Contentious” is one way to put the Ramaswamy guest spot. In essence, Trump isn’t the only GOP candidate who’s given in to CNN’s overtures of friendliness, but he’s the most prominent and the party leader who made it a habit to call everything the group used to put forth “fake news”. I can’t say for sure, but I believe it was CNN that Trump originally referred to when he first employed the “fake news” moniker in the beginning.
Trump has taken quite a bit of flak from conservatives for his perceived eagerness to please liberals who hate him. The naysayers argue Trump is only feeding the media’s voracious appetite for sleaze, and he shouldn’t give them the time of day much less another chance to make him look like a monkey in a circus. Why, Trump, why?
Hold on. Trump doesn’t necessarily merit criticism for his “diverse” media availability as much as he deserves credit for it. I think Trump does himself no disservice by going to the belly of the beast – in this case, CNN – and accepting the network’s overture to host a townhall for him, and this is true for several reasons.
First and foremost, Trump will benefit from the format. A so-called “town hall” forum is different than a sit-down interview with a network personality, or even participating as one candidate on a stage full of competitors in a “regular” primary or general election debate. The questions are posed by nervous citizens standing next to some network goon holding a microphone in their face, and chances are the ordinary Joe or Josephine won’t have the gumption to verbally smirk and smear with a voice dripping with contempt the way a polished liberal media stiff would.
Everyone knows it takes practice to establish a live television presence, and there’s no way a senior citizen from State X worried about Social Security and Medicare could put together a “gotcha” question in the same manner as Anderson Cooper or John King or Jim Acosta or Christiane Amanpour or Jake Tapper does. The person may not be a real “undeclared” voter as CNN’s billing would suggest, but chances are the questioner won’t be as pre-determined leftist as the CNN anchor staff is regarded to be.
And a townhall debate gives a candidate a full minute or two (or however long the rules allow) to answer the stated question without others smirking, interrupting and jutting in when it’s least expected. Trump has taken part in numerous such events and done very if not exceptionally well. Therefore, there’s no reason not to try and connect with voters in a manner intended to permit the candidate to make his case directly.
Second, Trump excels at taking and answering off-the-cuff questions from “ordinary” people, even if they’re hostile to him. Everyone knows Trump isn’t the least bit afraid of confrontation, and his tone changes considerably when addressing a soldier from the ranks of common folk. These people aren’t professional journalists with an agenda and a mission to aid the Democrat party, and even though Trump has led a life of luxury, he relates to them very well.
Further, a studio full of “average” Americans likely won’t be as antagonistic to Trump’s America First foreign policy views as a theater full of establishment Republicans would be. If Trump expresses hesitancy to fully fund Ukraine’s never-ending defensive war against Russia, for example, people who work for a living and pay taxes will stand up and applaud the candidate’s defend-the-homeland-first point-of-view rather than pan it as isolationism.
Here's thinking the CNN appearance will come across as a net positive for Trump.
Three, CNN is making an effort to present itself as more centrist than in recent times. This isn’t to say the network is committing to a “fair and balanced” approach to Trump, but they’re not quite as bad as they were just a few years ago under the direction of former head Jeff Zucker, who was notoriously anti-Trump and didn’t give a hoot who noticed it.
New CNN chairman and CEO Chris Licht looks to be setting a different course than Zucker did, which seemingly includes pitching Trump to give the CNN town-hall a try. The network also recently gave former talk show host Don Lemon the boot after he got into an embarrassing pissing match with Republican candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. And the days of mouthy idiot Chris Cuomo laying it on thick seem like a long time ago now.
Lastly, and this is quite a stretch, but maybe the executives see what is happening over at Fox with the ouster of ratings champ Tucker Carlson and they’re attempting to toss an olive branch to conservatives to consider CNN as an alternative?
Okay, probably not. CNN would need to do about fifty of these types of events and bend over backwards to bring most conservatives back into the fold, but you have to start somewhere. If Wednesday’s format turns out to be unfair, Trump certainly would call them on it. And the other Republican candidates would probably take Trump’s lead and offer similar participation if the program is worthwhile.
Plus, contrast Trump’s CNN ploy with the Fox phobia that afflicts senile president Joe Biden, who will neither agree to a sit-down interview with one of the network’s personalities nor give the go-ahead to participate in a debate that the media platform produces. So much for Biden “bringing people together”. What a load of lies!
Who can forget that the current commander in chief played a game of “chicken” with Fox a few months back by refusing to permit a traditional Super Bowl Sunday sit-down with the president for a semi-formal chat, where the hardest question is typically, “Who do you like in the game, the Eagles or the Chiefs?” In doing so, Biden sent a message loud and clear that he wasn’t the least bit interested in broadening his base, figuring that the likelihood of attracting new supporters wasn’t worth the chance he’d experience a “Biden moment” in front of tens of millions of TV viewers worldwide.
Biden and congressional Democrats have fanned the flames of anti-Fox bias by constantly berating the network for its alternative (to the establishment media) point-of-view. Regular Fox watchers recognize that Fox, except for its evening line-up, is hardly an MSNBC-like cheerleader for Trump and the MAGA agenda. Tucker Carlson was highly critical of Trump when the situation called for it. And all Fox hosts regularly call out the GOP establishment.
Who knows, maybe Trump’s appearing on CNN will prompt senile Joe’s handlers to give Fox News a few minutes in some kind of open format. But they’re more likely to supply “cheat sheets” for the old bleating goat and keep him hidden from anything construed as a challenge.
It’s hard to concede, but Trump deserves kudos for agreeing to the upcoming CNN program – and it might very well reward him, in a goodwill sense, for doing so.
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