Anderson Cooper defended CNN’s decision to host Wednesday night’s town hall with former President Donald Trump.
Critics ripped the event, which came just a day after a jury in New York found Trump liable for sexual assault and defamation in a civil case. Detractors also pointed to the fact that Trump tried to cling to power after losing the 2020 election and incited the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection. Not surprisingly, Trump spent much of the town hall lying about various issues.
Cooper opened Thursday’s AC360 by addressing the town hall and the ensuing backlash.
“Before we begin with tonight’s broadcast, I want to say something about what we witnessed at last night’s town hall,” he began. “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 a 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.”
The host went on to rattle off several of Trump’s offensive, such as referring to a Black police officer “a thug,” calling moderator Kaitlan Collins a “nasty person,” and lying about the 2020 election being rigged.
“Now, many of you think CNN shouldn’t have given him any platform to speak,” Cooper continued. “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.”
He said the Republican and Republican-leaning attendees at the town hall are “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.”
Cooper ended with a warning that Trump could become president again, telling viewers that “staying in your silo” isn’t going to make Trump disappear, pointing out that CNN’s viewers have every right to tune out if they wish:
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 today and angry and 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 calling for mutiny after Trump crushed the CNN Town Hall:
“You have every right to be outraged today and angry and never watch this network again.” pic.twitter.com/Tk7M1HDHL4
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) May 12, 2023