"Despite 8 years of Monty Python's Fish Slapping Dance, CNN still seems stunned when he doesn't act normal...."
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So yea, last night's CNN's "town hall" with Trump was a journalistic catastrophe.....the sort of thing that should have had warning stickers plastered all over itself. But it went pretty much as expected. Trump started lying the minute he walked onstage, and didn't stop lying until CNN mercifully pulled the plug 20 minutes early (it was supposed to last 90 minutes but was stopped at 70). The only thing that was a bit surprising was CNN agreeing to an audience seemingly handpicked by Trump himself.....an audience that brayed like hyenas at his every vile utterance. Imagine finally being able to gather all the Talkback-16 callers in a single room? One twitter user suggested that they may have been recruited from "the Mar-a-Lago parking lot." That's what you got. And if they are any indication of what's really out there, I suggest you strap yourself in. These folks seem positively giddy as the prospect of democracy being completely fucked. And they are from NEW HAMPSHIRE. Wait until he heads down south. They may have pitchforks with them down there.
So the result was carnage, as hapless moderator Kaitlan Collins eventually gave up calling him on his lies (she left unchallenged his assertion that Democrats wanted to execute babies, for instance) because they were coming at her too fast. It was a blizzard of bullshit, cheered on by what was advertised partially as "undecided voters". From what I can tell they are undecided no longer, and seemed to especially enjoy the parts where Trump mocked the woman he was just found guilty of sexually assaulting, and also when he called Collins herself a "nasty person". Trump is a relentless piece of shit. We all know this. But what is endlessly distressing is realizing how many other pieces of shit are out there. That bit I'll never get used to. That's our shame. Not CNNs.
“The election was not rigged, Mr. President,” Collins eventually said, sounding like she was trying to reason with an Adderall-laced 4th grader. “You can’t keep saying that all night long.”
Oh but he could. And he did keep saying it all night long. The more he speaks, the more he lies. It was a remarkable performance from a man who hasn't so much changed the rules as made them completely irrelevant. Despite 8 years of Monty Python's Fish Slapping Dance, CNN still seems stunned when he doesn't act normal. They still think they can change him. They still think they can maneuver him into some sort of corner and say "you can't keep acting this way...." They think there is something inside of him capable of being moved.
CNN is dumb. REALLY dumb.
CNN is partially responsible for this, of course. Their constant coverage of him, at various points over the years they have interrupted their own programming to break in with live shots of an empty podium, breathlessly reporting that Trump will be "speaking soon!...", has helped normalize the circus. From a ratings point of view, they simply cannot quit him. They have a new chairman, one of these "we're gonna give equal time to each side" dudes who mean well but are left with a legacy of allowing 12 of the day's 24 hours devoted to people saying Democrats want to execute babies. History takes a dim view of this type of balance. History demands hearing both sides only when one of them has not lost its fucking mind.
But I did say partially. CNN, like anybody else, would cover gerbil races if ratings were high enough. Trump delivers ratings because his cruel, brutish persona resonates with so many grievance-addicted Americans. Which is why they hosted him last night. This part is not fucking Wolf Blitzer’s fault.
Whatever. In the meantime, CNN tossed one of their rising stars into the middle of what was essentially a free MAGA rally. She did the best she could, which as it turned out wasn't nearly good enough. Perhaps if the crowd wasn't filled with what looked like a Steve Bannon family reunion she might have simply refused to move on from one piece of bullshit until he owned up to it, but God knows what type of frantic messages she was receiving in her ear-piece in real time. His crazed riffing on classified documents wasn't nearly given the time it deserved, perhaps because Collins was still trying to process Trump's plan to pardon January 6 insurrectionists, or his refusal to pick a side in the Ukraine/Russia war, a war he claimed he could end in 24 hours by the way (how? Collins didn't ask), or his statement that Nancy Pelosi was in charge of Capitol security on 1/6, or the fact that he was actually mocking the woman he now owed $5 million dollars to. I could go on, but why bother?
What would a Cronkite have done with all this? A David Brinkley or a John Chancellor? How about a Mike Wallace, who once interviewed Ayatollah Khomeini and called him a "lunatic" to his face (but not before the classic Wallace pause..."forgive me, Iman...")
What has happened to American journalism?
In a bit…
I missed the circus last night. Thanks for your column today. I only saw the highlights and what a travesty of journalism. It is scary to think that there are people in that room and out in society that still love this guy and think he will save them. Thanks for the laughs. It helps.