CNN and its CEO, Connecticut native Chris Licht, are enduring intense criticism two days after hosting a town hall style broadcast from Manchester, New Hampshire with former President Donald Trump.
There are two camps. One believes it was wrong for CNN to offer its airtime in such an unrestricted way to a serial liar they knew in advance could not be fully or even meaningfully controlled. The other – mostly inside CNN – says the network did the country of a service by exposing Trump further for what he is and how dangerous he might be as the next president. CNN points out further that right now Trump is the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for president, which means there is a 50/50 chance he could be the president again if the status of the race does not change between now and next year and he actually wins the nomination.
The criticism and the defense mirrors the reaction we heard a few weeks ago after Lesley Stahl interviewed Marjorie Taylor Green on 60 Minutes.
We are about a year and a half away from the next presidential election. By the end of this year, or even this summer, it is possible Trump will face up to three additional state and federal indictments stemming from his behavior in office and out of office. It is hard to predict how that will effect the race for the Republican nomination so it is premature to say there should never be another live broadcast featuring former President Trump.
But – if we accept the argument that CNN did the country a service by showing us just how dangerous Trump is to the future of the country – then for now the job is done – and a better way to share that news with the audience is through pre-recorded and edited reporting that immediately exposes his lies by placing them directly next to the truth.