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CNN boss Chris Licht ‘facing fury of criticism’ over Trump town hall


CNN’s head honcho Chris Licht faced a “fury of criticism” from the rank-and-file at the cable network for giving former President Donald Trump a forum to repeat his lies and conspiracy theories during Wednesday’s town hall.

The ratings-challenged network, which Licht has been trying to pivot away from the left-leaning coverage of his predecessor, was pilloried after putting moderator Kaitlan Collins “in a no-win situation.”

“I can’t believe anyone thought this was a good idea,” one staffer toldThe Washington Post.

Oliver Darcy, the network’s own media reporter, also revealed the hand-wringing immediately after the 70-minute town hall from St. Anselm College in New Hampshire came to an end.

“CNN and new network boss Chris Licht are facing a fury of criticism — both internally and externally over the event,” Darcy wrote in his “Reliable Sources” newsletter.

On Thursday, Licht tried quell his restive staff at the 9 am editorial meeting, sources told The Post.

CNN and its anchor Kaitlan Collins have come under fire for the town hall with former President Donald Trump.
CNN

“You do not have to like the former president’s answers, but you can’t say that we didn’t get them,” Licht said, according to the audio provided to The Post.

Licht also rebuffed suggestions that Collins did not push back hard enough on Trump’s claims of election fraud and other matters.

“Kaitlan pressed him again and again and made news,” Licht reportedly told staffers.


Collins was criticized online for not forcefully pushing back on Trump's claims of voter fraud.
Collins was criticized online for not forcefully pushing back on Trump’s claims of voter fraud.
CNN

“Made a lot of news,” he said, adding that “that is our job.”

Critics, however, blamed Collins for allowing the former president to repeat his claims about fraud in the 2020 election. Trump also mocked E. Jean Carroll, the columnist who successfully sued him for defaming her after she accused the former president of rape. Trump has denied the allegation.

Trump drew cheers from the partisan GOP crowd after he called Collins “nasty” when she called him out for insisting the election was “rigged.”

“While we all may have been uncomfortable hearing people clapping, that was also an important part of the story,” Licht told staffers.

The network boss said that the audience members comprise “a large swath of America.”

The Post has sought comment from CNN.


The town hall was held with prospective GOP voters in New Hampshire -- many of whom cheered Trump during the event.
The town hall was held with prospective GOP voters in New Hampshire — many of whom cheered Trump during the event.
CNN

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough ripped the rival network on Thursday.

“You can go piece by piece by piece to talk about how breathtakingly dangerous what we saw was last night,” the co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” said.

“This virus of lies that’s been loosened on the American people.”


Joe Scarborough, co-host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," blasted the event as "disgraceful."
Joe Scarborough, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” blasted the event as “disgraceful.”
WireImage

Licht, however, gave a glowing appraisal of Collins, whose star seems to be rising amid reports she will be promoted from co-hosting CNN’s morning show to the plum primetime slot at 9 p.m.

“I couldn’t be more proud of her,” Licht told staffers.

“Tonight Kaitlan Collins exemplified what it means to be a world-class journalist. She asked tough, fair and revealing questions,” a network spokesperson said in a statement to several media outlets Wednesday.


Chris Licht, CNN's boss, praised Collins and defended the network on Thursday.
Chris Licht, CNN’s boss, praised Collins and defended the network on Thursday.
WireImage

“And she followed up and fact-checked President Trump in real time to arm voters with crucial information about his positions as he enters the 2024 election as the Republican frontrunner.”

The statement added: “That is CNN’s role and responsibility: to get answers and hold the powerful to account.”



This story originally appeared on NYPost

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