CNN President Chris Licht told former President Donald Trump to “have fun” before his town hall event with the network in May 2023.
Licht and Trump only spoke briefly backstage before the town hall event in Manchester, New Hampshire, according to a detailed profile published by The Atlantic. “Have fun,” Licht told Trump before he took the stage before the town hall became one of Trump’s most infamous conversations with the public and media.
The profile biasedly described Trump’s behavior at the town hall as overpowering CNN’s moderator Kaitlan Collins with a “continuous blast of distortion, hyperbole, and lies.” The audience of the town hall were predominantly Trump supporters (described as “devotees” by the Atlantic), who allegedly turned the event into a “WWE match.”
— KAY SMYTHE (@KaySmythe) June 5, 2023
Trump pondered aloud about why CNN even asked him to take part in the production. He reportedly assumed that Licht wanted “a prime-time spectacle to resuscitate the network’s moribund ratings.”
But the town hall resulted in Licht angering just about every demographic. “Republicans were angry at CNN. Democrats were angry at CNN. Journalists were angry at CNN. The only one who wasn’t angry, it seemed, was Trump, most likely because he’d succeeded in disgracing the network on its own airwaves.” (RELATED: Only One Man Can Save CNN)
Media figures also trashed Licht for hosting the event and giving a platform to Trump. But Licht disagreed with the criticisms and felt the media had every right to give him a platform.