The mess and merit of CNN's disastrous town hall

Was the event truly an 'unmitigated disaster'?

Donald Trump with a CNN logo
CNN's decision to host Trump at a town hall event was met with mixed reactions
(Image credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Shortly after former President Donald Trump wrapped up his controversial CNN town hall, President Biden tweeted out a de facto campaign message: "It's simple, folks," he said. "Do you want four more years of that?"

"That," of course, being the former president's 70-minute appearance before likely Republican voters on a stage in New Hampshire, an unruly and falsehood-filled event during which he spewed lies about the 2020 election, praised rioters who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and dodged questions about whether he wanted Ukraine to win its war against Russia. He mocked former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who just days prior won a defamation lawsuit against him, and derided the town hall's host, CNN journalist Kaitlan Collins, as a "nasty person." The audience, meanwhile, chuckled and laughed along. "I can't believe anyone thought this was a good idea," one CNN staffer told The Washington Post. "It was an unmitigated disaster," added a former network executive, speaking with Insider. "Kaitlan had no support in the room. They were mocking her." Even team Trump was shocked by the spectacle, which marked his first appearance on the network since the 2016 election: "They can't believe he is getting an hour on CNN with an audience that cheers his every line and laughs at his every joke," reported The New York Times' Jonathan Swan.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Brigid Kennedy

Brigid Kennedy worked at The Week from 2021 to 2023 as a staff writer, junior editor and then story editor, with an interest in U.S. politics, the economy and the music industry.