Former President Donald J. Trump has defied the odds again after becoming arguably the only Republican to do a CNN town hall and come away looking better for it. Yet, just because Wednesday night’s event was a boon for the 45th president does not mean that President Joe Biden — or CNN, for that matter — had a bad night.
In fact, it may have been a good event for all three.
Trump was vintage Trump. Replete with comedic timing, plain language policy, and politically incorrect jabs, he reminded many why he is so loved by a large swath of the country. They say you can judge a man by his enemies, and boy is that ever the case for Teflon Don and his audience at St. Anselm’s College that cheered on the GOP 2024 frontrunner. Just look how Joy Behar of ABC’s “The View” reacted to Trump and his supporters.
“I have to say — start this off with — I was wrong,” Behar said. “[Sunny Hostin] said they shouldn’t show him and I said they should because I’m a very big defender of the First Amendment and I believe that everybody should show who they really are, and let’s vote accordingly.”
“What I didn’t know was that the audience would be filled with his cult!” she added. “I would like to know if CNN was passing out Kool-Aid before the event started.”
"That is not American!"
Joy Behar RAGES at CNN for having Republican voters at their Trump town hall, served them Kool-Aid.
"What I didn't know was that the audience would be filled with his cult!"
"Why would CNN put only Republicans and people who love me in the audience?!" pic.twitter.com/uW06fJP0ER
— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) May 11, 2023
Behar was not alone.
Leftists such as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and even CNN’s own Oliver Darcy questioned and scolded the network for showcasing Trump in the first place:
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) May 11, 2023
If you’re wondering how things went tonight for Trump, AOC is having a melt down over the fact this town hall even aired. Which means it was a big win for Trump. pic.twitter.com/jHNij5eAUO
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) May 11, 2023
Though they feign outrage over Trump’s alleged “lies,” perhaps the real reason they were upset is that it gave the only president in recent history with no new wars under his belt a platform to advocate for things such as peace in Ukraine.
“I don’t think about it in terms of winning and losing, I think in terms of getting it settled so we stop killing all these people,” Trump said when asked who he sides with in the conflict.
CNN: "Do you want Ukraine to win this war?"
Trump: "I don’t think about it in terms of winning and losing, I think in terms of getting it settled so we stop killing all these people"
*Massive audience applause*
People just want peace. pic.twitter.com/jJWkhGkBGG
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) May 11, 2023
In short, throughout much of the performance, Trump crushed CNN, cemented his place as the lead GOP candidate, and expounded on his solutions to fix Biden’s messes. For example, he explained the solution to Biden’s energy crisis: “Drill baby drill.”
That does not mean he did not give the Biden camp any fodder for the weeks ahead.
As flagged by writer Pedro Gonzalez, Biden’s “aides couldn’t be happier because they saw ‘weeks worth of damning content,’ and they’re going to put it to use for 2024.”
That includes comments that can be taken out of context, such as his remarks about the events on January 6, “rigged” elections, and other issues.
On Twitter, Trump emerged triumphant from the CNN town hall, and it’s over for Biden.
In reality, Biden was the biggest winner. His aides couldn’t be happier because they saw “weeks worth of damning content,” and they’re going to put it to use for 2024. https://t.co/HJ4lpHLgI1 pic.twitter.com/HonESg74KA
— Pedro L. Gonzalez (@emeriticus) May 11, 2023
Of course, it is early, and the American people tend to have short memories in politics, so Trump can overcome those errors. Yet, as Gonzalez also noted, the 2020 election, abortion, and painting the entire GOP as a party of insurrectionists was a key part of the Democratic Party’s playbook in 2022 — and it worked.
But, perhaps Trump — or any GOP candidate for that matter — can use what we now know about Big Tech censorship of Hunter Biden’s laptop and other damaging stories, the CIA’s alleged interference in the 2020 race, as well as the lapdog media’s non-stop public relations campaign for the Left as proof that the 2020 election was “rigged” for Biden — but not necessarily via election fraud as described by Trump.
Critics say that Trump won’t shut his yap about the 2020 election, but as one astute town hall viewer told the outlet, CNN moderator Kaitlan Collins was the one who brought up the past in the first place:
CNN: Why won’t Trump stop talking about 2020 and not 2024?
Voter: Well the first question you asked him was about 2020 pic.twitter.com/Sy80LgwkG5
— Jack Poso 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) May 11, 2023
So, then, what is to become of CNN? Well, the Right is saying that Collins was awful, a typical CNN whiner who saw it as her duty to try and debate the president — rather than allow him to speak to the audience and answer relevant questions. The Left is claiming that CNN essentially fraternized with a terrorist by giving him airtime.
Yet, CNN CEO Chris Licht woke up the morning feeling great about it all, according to one report. Licht allegedly told CNN staffers Thursday that “America was served very well by what we did last night” and Collins had a “masterful performance.”
Covering Trump is "tricky and messy," Licht says, and it will "continue to be messy and tricky, but it's our job." He confidently says "America was served very well by what we did last night." Many CNN employees strongly disagree.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) May 11, 2023
There is another reason Licht might be happy: Everybody is talking about his media company. The only thing worse in show business than being talked about is not being talked about at all, as the saying goes. The ratings might show that the event was good for CNN’s bottom line.
So, it is possible that Trump, Biden, and CNN all walked away winners after Wednesday night’s event. Time will tell how that shapes the 2024 GOP primary and general election.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.