CNN’s Anderson Cooper tried to explain the network’s decision to give Trump a virtually unfettered platform, but detoured into blaming people for being angry about their decision.
Transcript via CNN:
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
Before we begin with tonight’s broadcast, I want to say something about what we witnessed at last night’s townhall. Many of you have expressed deep anger and disappointment. Many of you are upset that someone who attempted to destroy our democracy was invited to sit on the stage in front of a crowd of Republican voters to answer questions, and predictably continued to spew lie after lie after lie.
And I get it, it was disturbing. It was disturbing to see and hear that person refer to a Black law enforcement officers as a thug, an adjective he used many times to describe Black men and called Kaitlan Collins, the moderator, nasty, which is what he calls any woman who stands up to him.
It was disturbing to hear him speak so highly of QAnon conspirators and insurrectionists who assaulted police officers and our democracy on January 6, and it was awful to hear him spread ridiculous lies about the election.
And it was certainly disturbing to hear that audience, young and old, our fellow citizens, people who love their kids and go to church, laugh and applaud his lies and his continued defamation of a woman who according to a jury of his peers, he sexually abused and defamed.
As good a job as Kaitlan Collins did trying to factcheck him, it is impossible to factcheck fully because he lies so shamelessly.
Now, many of you think CNN shouldn’t have given him any platform to speak, and I understand the anger about that, giving him the audience, the time, I get that.
But this is what I also get. The man you were so disturbed to see and hear from last night. That man is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president. And according to polling, no other Republican is even close.
That man you were so upset to hear from last night, he may be president of the United States in less than two years, and that audience that upset you, that’s a sampling of about half the country. They are your family members, your neighbors, and they are voting, and many said they’re voting for him.
Now, maybe you haven’t been paying attention to him since he left office, maybe you’ve been enjoying not hearing from him thinking it can’t happen again. Some investigation is going to stop him. Well, it hasn’t so far.
So if last night showed anything, it showed it can happen again. It is happening again.
He hasn’t changed and he is running hard.
You have every right to be outraged and angry, never watch this network again. But do you think staying in your silo and only listening to people you agree with is going to make that person go away? If we all only listen to those we agree with, it may actually do the opposite.
If lies are allowed to go unchecked, as imperfect as our ability to check them is on a stage in real time, those lies continue and those lies spread.
If you’re angry or upset, I understand, but you have the power to do something about it. You can actually get involved, you can make a difference, whatever side of the aisle you’re on.
After last night, none of us can say I didn’t know what’s out there. I didn’t know what’s coming.
Anderson Cooper Got So Many Things Wrong
Anderson Cooper based his defense of the network’s decision on diminishing the outrage of many Americans as partisanship. The anger at CNN for their attempted ratings grab goes beyond Democrats. There are Independents and Republicans who also angry at the decision to platform Trump, so the arrogant dismissal of critics as being partisan misses the point.
Donald Trump is not popular. The former president was found guilty of sexual abuse this week and he tried to overthrow the government. Trump is the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination at the moment, but he is leading a party whose base is a far-right fringe of American politics.
Cooper’s claim that CNN was hosting Trump to show America what could be coming was disingenuous. The American people have known for far longer than the corporate media what Donald Trump is. There is a reason why Trump has never had a single day of his political career with a national approval rating over 50% in a non-partisan poll.
If CNN thinks that they were educating people about Trump, they are eight years too late.
Anderson Cooper tried to defend the lack of aggressive fact-checking of Trump by Kaitlin Collins by deeming Trump un-factcheckable because he lies so much, so fast.
CNN knew what Trump was like, but they still stuck Collins in a room with Trump and 400 of his supporters. If Trump is a lie machine, the answer is to not give him a platform. If CNN insisted on giving Trump a platform, don’t fill the room with Trump supporters, and don’t send Collins in there alone in a 401 on 1 situation.
CNN could have used a debate-style moderator panel and had three people asking Trump questions. CNN could have not allowed Trump to blow through topic after topic and lie after lie. They could have stopped the show and pressed Trump and not let up.
Donald Trump would have never agreed to anything that is suggested above. In order to get Trump, CNN had to agree to give him a favorable platform. CNN executives made the deal and viewers responded to the sham that they saw.
There is a smugness in corporate media that is exemplified by Anderson Cooper’s comments. It is a mentality of we are above you unwashed partisans who don’t understand things the way that we do.
The American people perfectly understood what CNN was trying to do. The network didn’t get the big ratings that it thought it would. Instead, Trump left behind a mess and a network in crisis, as not everyone who works at CNN thinks that America was served well by the Trump town hall.
Anderson Cooper doesn’t get it. He and his corporate media colleagues better catch on soon because one lesson from the town hall was that the big media enabling and empowering of Trump will not be tolerated.
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Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association