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CNN Insiders Slam Trump Town Hall: “A Disaster, and Totally Predictable”

CNN execs are facing a stream of criticism from their own employees.

Donald Trump
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

On Wednesday, CNN persisted with hosting a town hall event with twice-impeached, criminally indicted former President Donald Trump, just a day after he was found liable for sexual abuse and defamation.

And it went about as poorly as literally anyone could have predicted. Trump probably told more lies than truths. He smeared E. Jean Carroll and got audience members to laugh and jeer along. He doubled down on January 6 and lies about the 2020 election. And CNN left its own Kaitlan Collins with the remarkably tall task of trying to fact-check it all, while leaving her vulnerable to be called “a nasty person” by Trump in front of an audience that seemed to have no concern with him doing so at all.

And Team Trump was loving it. “Advisers to Trump are thrilled at how this is going so far for him,” The New York Times’ Jonathan Swan reported. “They can’t believe he is getting an hour on CNN with an audience that cheers his every line and laughs at his every joke.”

Early on during the town hall, one CNN employee told The Washington Posts Jeremy Barr it was “a disaster, and totally predictable.”

Another insider told Rolling Stone the evening was “appalling” and that CNN gave Trump “a huge platform to spew his lies,” while “the audience was stacked with his voters.”

“A fucking disgrace,” another CNN insider said. “1,000 percent a mistake [to host Trump]. No one [at CNN] is happy.”

“Just brutal,” another producer added.

Before the event, CNN commentator and retired Washington, D.C., police officer Michael Fanone (who was assaulted by rioters during the January 6 attack, resulting in a heart attack, severe burns, and brain injuries) openly railed against the network, in a Rolling Stone piece titled, “CNN Is Hosting a Town Hall for a Guy Who Tried to Get Me Killed.”

Oliver Darcy, CNN’s senior media reporter, wrote a very critical piece overnight on CNN’s decision to host the town hall. “It’s hard to see how America was served by the spectacle of lies that aired on CNN Wednesday evening,” he wrote. “CNN and new network boss Chris Licht are facing a fury of criticism—both internally and externally over the event.”

What was already a bad idea was made worse by CNN’s tolerance, and therefore affirmation, of a man just found liable for sexual abuse. One could imagine a parallel universe where CNN ideally never hosted Trump at all or at least canceled the event, issuing a strong declaration that the American people are better served with journalism that doesn’t offer open prime time to sexual abusers—far less coup inciters.

Instead, the network dug its heels in, leaving Collins to endlessly parry with Trump’s lies and the rest of America to become even further immersed into the same consent-manufacturing operation that helped lead to Trump’s rise in the first place.

And while many within the walls of CNN appear incensed by what their employer has done, it matters not, unless they make it matter. For their own dignity, and for the dignity of what journalism should aspire toward, these staffers could leave, or strike, or even sabotage the network; make leadership actually feel something other than a stream of reaction articles that only fuel their egotistical presumptions that “if we’re making people mad, we’re doing something right.” Till then, these executives will only further entrench themselves in somehow believing this garbage is good for America. And by then, the opening for the actually good journalists at CNN to make change will be even narrower. The clock is ticking.

Even Fox News Is Sick of Republicans’ Dumb Investigation Into Joe Biden

“You don’t actually have any facts to that point,” Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy pressed.

Fox anchor Steve Doocy
John Lamparski/Getty Images
Fox anchor Steve Doocy

Republicans have no evidence that Joe Biden was involved in shady business dealings, and even Fox News knows it.

House Republicans accused the president and his family Wednesday of engaging in business with foreign entities, but they were unable to provide any actual evidence linking Biden to any wrongdoing.

Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy pressed Representative James Comer about the nothingburger of an investigation. Comer, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, alleged in a 65-page memo that the Bidens were involved in influence peddling in Romania for two years, and claimed that Biden’s son Hunter had business deals in China.

“You don’t actually have any facts to that point. You’ve got some circumstantial evidence,” Doocy said Thursday morning. “And the other thing is, of all those names, the one person who didn’t profit is—there’s no evidence that Joe Biden did anything illegally.”

Comer gave a long, complicated explanation of how Biden was definitely involved, even though his name didn’t come up anywhere in the financial documents he had subpoenaed. In fact, Comer admitted that Republicans have yet to find any proof of their accusations.

“We’re at the very beginning stages of this, but in talking with the informants that we have … we know that Joe Biden was actively involved,” Comer said. “We’re still looking for more bank records that we believe will implicate Joe Biden’s active participation in this.”

Since taking control of the House of Representatives, Republicans have been obsessed with trying to dig up dirt on the Biden family, particularly Biden’s son Hunter. Even though the United States has just weeks before it could default on its debt, the GOP is apparently more interested in personal vendettas than leading the country.

CNN’s Trump Town Hall Was a Total Disaster

Trump told a record number of lies during the town hall, and he got away with it.

Donald Trump
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Twice-impeached, criminally indicted former President Donald Trump had an hour’s worth of exclusive time with CNN—one day after he was found liable for sexually abusing and defaming E. Jean Carroll.

Despite CNN’s Kaitlan Collins’s valiant effort with the conditions she was given, the fundamental structure of the night was not complementary to what anyone might imagine “good journalism” looking like. The network gave Trump a friendly audience of voters who seemed to largely agree with him on most things; seldom a “battleground of ideas,” the night’s only challenges came from Collins. But Trump sprayed lie after lie after lie, which is difficult for anyone to fact-check in real time.

Here are just some of the lies Trump threw at the wall, with a jeering and laughing audience buoying him throughout.

  • Doubled down on the Big Lie that the 2020 election was rigged.
  • On pressuring Georgia’s secretary of state to find missing votes: “I didn’t ask him to find anything.”
  • Then-Vice President Mike Pence “should have put the votes back to the state legislatures, and I think we would have had a different outcome.” The vice president does not have such authority, and numerous Trump allies have admitted that such a process would have been illegal.
  • On the January 6 riot: “I offered them 10,000 soldiers.” There is no evidence Trump ever made a request to the National Guard for support, or that Democrats or Washington, D.C., rejected such assistance.
  • “The Presidential Records Act is not criminal. I took the documents. I’m allowed to.”
  • Documents “become automatically declassified when I took them.
  • President Obama took classified documents from the White House.
  • On E. Jean Carroll: “This woman, I don’t know her. I never met her. I have no idea who she is.
  • The judge in the E. Jean Carroll case allowed us to put nothing in” during the defamation and sexual abuse trial.
  • President Obama separated families at the border first.
  • Other countries are sending “migrant families” from mental institutions to the U.S.
  • People don’t speak English in Chinatown [false, and racist].
  • “We created the greatest economy in history. A big part of that economy was I got you the biggest tax cuts in the history of our country, bigger than the Reagan cuts.” Average growth under Trump was lower than in numerous other administrations; moreover, Trump’s tax cut disproportionately benefited the wealthy, rather than low-income or middle-class families. In 2018, after Trump’s tax cuts passed, the richest 400 families in America paid an average effective tax rate lower than what the bottom half of American households paid.
  • I finished the border wall.
  • “They could kill the baby at the ninth month or after it was born” before the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

This is not an exhaustive list of all the lies, especially the more minute ones, Trump told during the town hall. Just during his four years in office, it is estimated that Trump lied to, or misled, the American people over 30,000 times.

CNN Lets Donald Trump Smear E. Jean Carroll, as Audience Laughs Along

Trump was found liable of sexual abuse. His base doesn’t even care.

Donald Trump
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Donald Trump

Twice-impeached, criminally indicted former President Donald Trump was asked during the CNN town hall Wednedsay for his response to being found liable for sexual abuse and defamation.

Trump attempted to discount E. Jean Carroll’s testimony, calling it “crazy,” but the more he went on, the more it seemed like he was imbuing his own fond memories (or fantasies) of what happened with the woman Trump was found liable for sexual abusing.

“This woman said I met her at the front door of Bergdorf Goodman, which I rarely go into other than for a couple of charities,” Trump began.

“I was immediately attracted to her, and she was immediately attracted to me. And we had this great chemistry,” Trump said, as if forgetting that he was trying to discount Carroll’s testimony. “And a few minutes later, we ended up in a room, a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman, right near the cash register,” he continued amid laughter from the audience.

“What kind of a woman meets somebody and brings them up and within minutes you’re playing Hanky Panky in a dressing room?” Trump said, musing about whether Carroll was married at the time or not.

Kaitlan Collins also asked Trump about whether he stands by defending the comments he made in the Access Hollywood tape about being able to grab women.

Trump doubled down. “I said, if you’re famous and rich, or whatever I said,” he began. “But I said, ‘If you are a star…’ I said, ‘Women let you.’”

“If you’re a famous person, if you’re a star—and I’m not referring to myself—I’m saying people that are famous, people that are stars,” Trump continued, before Collins interrupted to note that Trump had called himself a “star” during his deposition.

After some cross talk, Trump continued: “They tend to do pretty well in a lot of different ways. OK. And you would like me to take that back. I can’t take it back because it happens to be true. I said it’s been true for one million years, approximately a million years, perhaps a little bit longer than that.”

In a very tellingly simple manner, it’s remarkable that Trump didn’t even pretend to also say something like, “I wish it weren’t true,” or solidly affirm that he himself does not take advantage of this supposed system where “women let you do it.”

Perhaps the laughter and jeering helped Trump ignore the possibility that some people may find what he was saying incredibly disgusting.

Trump Has No Regrets About January 6

The former president was given several opportunities during a CNN town hall to disavow the insurrection. He refused.

Donald Trump
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

During CNN’s town hall with Donald Trump, the twice-impeached, criminally indicted, and sexually abusing former president said he had no regrets about his actions during the January 6 Capitol riots.

Host Kaitlan Collins asked him, point-blank, whether he had any regrets at all. An easy question to express even an ounce of remorse or regret or anything at all, while still maintaining your anti-democratic posture. He couldn’t even do that.

“I’ve never spoken to a crowd as large as this. And that’s because they believed the election was rigged,” Trump replied after a jumbled word salad.

“They were there proud. They were there with love in their heart. That was an unbelievable, and it was a beautiful day,” Trump said about the thousands of rioters. He even lovingly suggested that a lot of the people in the town hall audience “were probably there” too.

Later, when asked by an audience member whether he would pardon January 6 rioters, Trump said he would pardon “many of them.”

Collins followed up, asking if he would pardon the Proud Boys members recently convicted of seditious conspiracy.

Trump said he’d take a look at the cases but that you can’t get a fair trial in Washington, D.C.

The audience started clapping.

In Speech Nine Days Late, NYC Mayor Refuses to Say Jordan Neely Was Killed

New York City Mayor Eric Adams finally managed to say something about Neely—and nothing about how he was killed.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams speaks at a podium
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
NYC Mayor Eric Adams

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has finally condemned the death of Jordan Neely, a Black, homeless man choked to death on the subway—nine days after the fact, and with no mention of how Neely was actually killed.

Ex-Marine Daniel Penny held Neely in a choke hold for 15 minutes on May 1, until Neely suffocated to death. Penny still has not been charged.

Though Adams condemned Neely’s death on Wednesday, he did not mention Penny or the circumstances of Neely’s death.

“Jordan Neely did not deserve to die,” Adams said in prepared comments. “Jordan Neely’s life mattered. He was suffering from severe mental illness, but that was not the cause of his death. His death is a tragedy that never should have happened.”

The mayor’s tepid comments are barely better than his first reaction to the tragedy. Last week, Adams said in a statement that “any loss of life is tragic,” but that he wouldn’t comment further because “there’s a lot we don’t know about what happened here.”

The case has been referred to a grand jury, which will determine whether to issue criminal charges. Protests have broken out in support of Neely and his family. Almost a dozen people, including a photojournalist, were arrested at the protest Monday night.

Adams, meanwhile, has decided the best solution to prevent further tragedies like Neely’s killing is to double down on his controversial proposed policy to send people to mental treatment facilities against their will.

“It is time to build a new consensus around what can and must be done for those living with serious mental illness and to take meaningful action despite resistance and pushback from those who misconstrue our intentions,” Adams said Wednesday.

New York emergency workers are already empowered to hold dangerously violent people. But a directive by Adams at the end of April expands that power. Emergency responders, police, firefighters, and state Department of Health workers will be able to hold anyone who “appears mentally ill and displays an inability to meet basic living needs.”

Adams did not provide details on what criteria determine someone should be hospitalized. Critics of the policy warn the city lacks sufficient mental health resources, particularly in low-income areas. Some city officials were also concerned that law enforcement officers would be permitted to act as mental health professionals.

Republican Senator Has No Problem With White Nationalists: “I Call Them Americans”

Tommy Tuberville is defending racists in the military.

Tommy Tuberville speaks outside the Capitol
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville

Senator Tommy Tuberville doesn’t really see the difference between white nationalists and Americans.

The Republican senator said that white nationalists should be allowed in the U.S. military because blocking any ideological group from serving would weaken the institution.

During an interview Monday with the Alabama radio station WBHM, Tuberville was asked if he thought white nationalists should be allowed to serve in the military.

“They call them that,” he said, referring to the Biden administration. “I call them Americans.”

“We are losing in the military so fast,” he continued. “Our readiness in terms of recruitment. And why? I’ll tell you why, because the Democrats are attacking our military, saying we need to get out the white extremists, the white nationalists, people that don’t believe in our agenda.”

Tuberville also referred to the military as a “strong, hard-nosed, killing machine,” which is definitely how you want national leaders discussing their opinion of defense policy.

His office released a statement Wednesday saying that Tuberville meant he was “skeptical” that white nationalists were in the military, not that he thought they should be in the military. But the Alabama Republican is wrong there, too.

A month after the January 6 attack, Pentagon officials said in a report that white supremacist ideology had made significant inroads in the military. The report found that white supremacist groups would try to recruit active military personnel and veterans and group leaders would often try to enlist in order to get weapons and training. One Florida National Guard member co-founded a fascist group and said he was “100 percent open” about being a neo-Nazi—and no one batted an eye.

As for military readiness issues, Tuberville might want to take a look in the mirror: He has blocked nearly 200 military promotions since March over his objection to the Defense Department’s abortion policy. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned in a letter to Senator Elizabeth Warren last week that Tuberville’s delay “harms America’s national security” and poses a “clear risk” to the military’s readiness.

Tuberville’s apparent openness toward white supremacists makes sense when you think about his unwavering support for former President Donald Trump, who counted extremists Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller among his inner circle. Trump also infamously told the far-right Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by,” which prosecutors in the hundreds of January 6 lawsuits said the white nationalists interpreted as a call to action.

Tuberville’s support for Trump remains unflagging, despite the former leader’s ongoing legal woes. On Tuesday, Tuberville said that a jury finding Trump liable for sexual assault and defamation “makes me want to vote for him twice.”

Preparing for CNN’s Town Hall With a Sexually Abusing, Coup-Inducing Impeached President

The details coming out about CNN’s town hall (and its audience) are more than troubling.

Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

One day after Donald Trump was found liable for sexual abuse and defamation against E. Jean Carroll—adding to his carousel of baggage, including being impeached twice, becoming the first president ever to be criminally indicted, and still facing numerous other investigations into his efforts to overthrow our democracy—he will be joining CNN for a special live-to-tape town hall event.

And the details coming out about the town hall spark even more concern.

According to reports, Wednesday’s town hall will be set in front of an audience solely of New Hampshire Republican and Republican-leaning independent voters. It is not uncommon for town halls to be in front of members of the candidate’s party (though, perhaps that’s a convention that doesn’t have to remain)—but this is someone who has been charged with numerous crimes and helped incite a coup on America’s democracy.

And those Republican voters are the ones who get to ask questions of Trump, who, as a reminder, is still the front-runner in his party among said Republican voters.

CNN’s Kaitlin Collins will be the anchor tasked with the job of both hosting a space for voters to ask questions and determining when to jump in and what questions to ask. She will have to fact-check Trump in real time, lest the network already giving a criminal open-air time also allows said criminal to lie even more.

“I’ll be doing CNN tomorrow night, LIVE from the Great State of New Hampshire, because they are rightfully desperate to get those fantastic (TRUMP!) ratings once again. They made me a deal I couldn’t refuse!!!” Trump wrote on Truth Social one day before the town hall. “Could be the beginning of a New & Vibrant CNN, with no more Fake News, or it could turn into a disaster for all, including me. Let’s see what happens? Wednesday Night at 8:00!!!”

One Trump adviser has called this town hall part of a larger effort “to jumpstart the relationship” once warmly shared between the network and Team Trump, while CNN itself describes Trump’s appearance as a sign of the candidate’s “broader and more traditional campaign strategy.”

Hopefully Collins doesn’t fall for that. Just days before Trump was indicted by a grand jury for his role in paying hush money to Stormy Daniels, Trump snapped at a reporter for asking him about the investigation at all, grabbing the journalist’s two phones and throwing them to the side.

CNN commentator and retired Washington, D.C., police officer Michael Fanone (who was assaulted by rioters during the January 6 attack, resulting in a heart attack, severe burns, and brain injuries) railed against the network for hosting the town hall, in a Rolling Stone piece titled, “CNN Is Hosting a Town Hall for a Guy Who Tried to Get Me Killed.”

“Putting him onstage, having him answer questions like a normal candidate who didn’t get people killed in the process of trying to end the democracy he’s attempting to once again run, normalizes what Trump did,” Fanone wrote. “It sends a message that attempting a coup is just part of the process; that accepting election results is a choice; and that there are no consequences, in the media or in politics or anywhere else, for rejecting them.”

Republicans Finally Admit They Have No Incriminating Evidence on Joe Biden

A 65-page report, a press conference, and nothing to show for it

James Comer stands at a podium while other members of his party surround him
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer, at the podium, with other Republican members of the committee

Republicans’ big investigation into the Biden family has revealed … not a lot.

The House GOP accused Joe Biden and his family on Wednesday of engaging in business with foreign entities—but were unable to provide any actual evidence linking the president to any wrongdoing.

House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer released a 65-page memo detailing a sprawling investigation into Biden and some of his relatives, particularly his son Hunter Biden. Nowhere in the massive document was there a specific allegation of a crime committed by Biden or any of his relatives.

During a press conference explaining the investigation, Comer was asked if he had evidence directly linking Biden to corruption. The Kentucky Republican hemmed and hawed but ultimately admitted he didn’t.

The memo accuses the Biden family of involvement in a “scheme to peddle influence” in Romania from 2015 to 2017, as well as financial dealings with individuals in China. Hunter Biden’s name comes up repeatedly. But the memo contains scant details of all of these alleged dealings, nor does it contain any evidence that any laws were broken or that Biden was involved in his son’s Chinese business.

Representative Jamie Raskin, the ranking member of the Oversight Committee, slammed Comer for having “failed to provide factual evidence to support his wild accusations about the president.”

“He continues to bombard the public with innuendo, misrepresentations, and outright lies, recycling baseless claims from stories that were debunked years ago,” Raskin said in a statement.

Since taking control of the House of Representatives, Republicans have been obsessed with trying to dig up dirt on the Biden family, instead of actually governing. The United States is weeks away from defaulting on its debt, but the GOP is apparently more concerned with wild-goose chases.

The Beautiful Irony of George Santos Being Charged With Covid Unemployment Fraud

The Republican congressman, known for his serial lies, has also been one of the loudest voices on preventing government handouts.

George Santos stands up and claps
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

The co-sponsor of a bill to prevent unemployment fraud was charged with committing unemployment fraud.

On Tuesday, George Santos was indicted on 13 counts related to money laundering, wire fraud, lying to Congress, and theft of public funds. A day later, Republicans began voting on a bill to recoup Covid-19 unemployment benefits from fraudulent claimants. Santos was unable to participate, however, because he was busy being processed for his 13 counts, including fraudulently claiming $24,000 in Covid unemployment benefits while making a $120,000 salary.

The cherry on top is that Santos himself is one of the co-sponsors of the bill, the Protecting Taxpayers and Victims of Unemployment Fraud Act.

When asked about the clear conflict, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise demurred.

“In regard to George Santos, he was already removed from all his committees,” Scalise said, in contrast to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s earlier suggestion that Santos himself elected to leave his committee assignments. “He’s going to have to go through the legal process. But we’re going to continue to work to root out fraud, and there’s lots of it: We’re talking about tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars in fraud.”

Santos is also part of the Republican quest to hold the debt ceiling hostage to impose work requirements for Medicaid and SNAP benefits: again, a great irony given his own fraudulent use of government handouts.

The contradiction is run-of-the-mill from a conservative ideological movement (note: all Republicans, and some Democrats) that, in all senses, has carried out a “regulation for thee but not for me” regime.

On government handouts, the conservative movement has showered corporations—particularly those in special favor with it, like fossil fuel or railroad companies—with subsidies and rolled-back regulations.

On taxes, the rich have been able to evade taxes and secure wild tax breaks, while the poor pay disproportionately more for a society that treats them disproportionately worse. The majority of Americans pay for a system that only makes the gap between rich and poor even wider, and the cycle continues, entrenching it all further and further.

And on unemployment benefits, Republicans are now pursuing a bill that pretends to go after fraudsters while actually seeking to repeal federal funds approved by Democrats in 2021 that would empower the Labor Department to investigate fraud cases. All the while, one of their own co-sponsors appears guilty of the exact misdeed Republicans claim they’re attempting to address.

The contradictions are all backgrounded by a political movement that has complained about government spending and student debt relief while being among the largest recipients of emergency Covid PPP funding, or among the politicians—from Dianne Feinstein to Kelly Loeffler and Richard Burr—who have committed insider trading during the height of the pandemic.