Tell CNN: No More Trump Town Halls
On May 10th, CNN handed Donald Trump a free hour of live TV. Trump used the time to spread conspiracy theories, celebrate political violence, and continue to lie about the 2020 election. All in front a rapturous pro-Trump studio audience that ate up every word, even laughing and cheering as Trump mocked and defamed the woman he’d just been found liable for sexually assaulting.
It was the height of irresponsibility and the only way CNN could make the decision worse would be… to do it again.
Still, despite facing widespread criticism, CNN’s top executives, Chris Licht and David Zaslav, defended the town hall as having been “important,” “necessary,” and “absolutely, unequivocally” having benefited America. Licht called the moderator “a world-class journalist.” Trump called her a “nasty person.” The audience loved it.
This town hall wasn’t journalism; it was a campaign rally.
It is clear that CNN cares more about ratings than democracy, truth, or, frankly, basic journalistic standards. The event drew 3.3 million viewers in prime time, a significant jump for CNN on a Wednesday night, plus potentially millions more viewers who are continuing to tune in after the fact streaming it online.
CNN gave Trump everything he wanted. Free rein to the man who stoked the January 6 insurrection, has been indicted on 34 felony counts, and is currently under investigation for everything from obstruction of justice and election tampering to organizing an attempted coup.
Trump, the man whose motto is “there is no such thing as bad publicity,” is a genius at manipulating the media into covering him live, setting the terms by which he appears, and using the free airtime to spread his toxic brew of hatred and abuse.
We must demand that CNN put a stop to this. We need the news media to stand up for journalistic integrity and present the news with a critical eye to politicians’ false claims.
Defending the decision to air the Town Hall, CNN chief executive David Zaslov said, “[We have] a divided government. We need to hear both voices… Republicans are on the air at CNN. Democrats are on the air. All voices should be heard on CNN.”
Of course, CNN and other news outlets have the obligation to cover Trump’s candidacy -- as news -- not live and verbatim, unfiltered in the words of the candidate’s own campaign speeches.
CNN must responsibly cover Trump. That means, reporting the news, not airing a campaign rally weakly disguised as news. Sign the petition now!
Tell CNN: No more Trump town halls.
Do not give Trump a free platform live and unchallenged for his conspiracy
theories, falsehoods, and propaganda again.