In a surprising turn of events, CNN has announced a presidential town hall with former President Donald Trump. The event is set to take place in New Hampshire on May 10 and will be moderated by CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins. This marks Trump’s first appearance on the cable news network since the 2016 campaign.
The town hall will take place at St. Anselm College and will allow Trump to take questions from Republicans and undeclared voters who plan to vote in New Hampshire’s GOP presidential primary. According to an adviser to the former president, Trump agreed to participate in the town hall after “CNN executives made a compelling pitch.” Despite his past criticisms of the network, the adviser said that Trump is “running to be president for all Americans.”
It’s worth noting that polls examining the 2024 election generally show Trump with a significant lead over the rest of the GOP primary field. The next closest Republican is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has not announced a campaign but reportedly is moving in that direction.
here’s CNN’s promo for next week’s Trump town hall 😬 pic.twitter.com/26GbrXRvfs
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 2, 2023
Some have speculated that Trump’s decision to sit with CNN may be an implicit swipe at Fox News. Trump recently lashed out at the Republican National Committee after it decided to pick Fox News to host the first 2024 presidential primary, calling the network “hostile” and accusing it of having “angry, TRUMP & MAGA hating anchors asking the ‘questions.'”
CNN’s decision to host Trump for a town hall has received blowback from some, with Washington Post columnist Philip Bump quipping that the network has figured out how to do real-time fact-checking that might prevent a bad-faith actor from making false claims that would otherwise go unchallenged. Former ESPN host and hard-Left commentator Keith Olbermann tweeted that CNN is committing “journalistic suicide” by hosting Trump, arguing that the network’s coverage of the former president in 2016 was irresponsible.
Here it is, @cnn committing journalistic suicide:
If there was ONE consensus about 2024 it was that “covering” Trump the way they did in 2016 (handing him live
blocks of free airtime with no fact-checking possible) was irresponsible
And CNN’s doing it pic.twitter.com/rZ6oFM7arS
— Keith Olbermann↙️ (@KeithOlbermann) May 1, 2023
In a statement, CNN defended its decision to host Trump, saying that the network has a longstanding tradition of hosting leading presidential candidates for town halls and political events as a critical component of its campaign coverage. The network also announced that this event with Trump will be the first of many in the coming months as CNN correspondents travel across the country to hear directly from voters in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election.