CNN’s attempt to defend hosting a town hall for the former president was undercut when a source close to the Trump campaign thanked the network for the campaign contribution.
Rolling Stone reported:
Team Trump certainly felt the boss’ campaign was well served by the spectacle. Even before the conclusion of the town hall’s first hour, the reactions within Trump’s circle were universally joyous. Some close aides to the ex-president were almost baffled that the night went that well for them, according to sources in and close to the campaign. “We want to thank CNN for their generous donation to President Trump’s campaign!” one Trump adviser said late on Wednesday.
“[Trump] should literally do this every night,” one operative working closely with the Trump 2024 team said about an hour into the live event. “Nightly CNN hits!”
What a humiliating moment for CNN, as the network frantically tries to justify their Trump town hall on journalistic grounds.
Somebody out there close to the Trump campaign is calling the town hall a campaign contribution. It is a good rule of thumb that when a politician or a campaign is overly happy about an interview, that interview probably didn’t go well from a journalistic point of view.
I can’t ever recall a presidential campaign publicly referring to media coverage as a campaign contribution. CNN has been in last place in the cable news rankings for a long time, but the one thing that the network always had no matter how many people were watching was a pristine reputation as a news gathering organization.
That reputation has taken a massive dose of damage after Chris Licht’s Trump town hall stunt. The fact that they hosted a candidate and provided such poor coverage that sources close to the campaign were giddy is a public perception altering result that could follow CNN for a long time to come.