CNN boss Chris Licht defended his network’s Wednesday-night town hall with Donald Trump during a meeting with staffers Thursday, despite the former president’s unruly behavior toward moderator Kaitlan Collins and his vilification of writer E. Jean Carroll, whom he recently was found liable of sexually abusing and defaming.
“You do not have to like the former president’s answers, but you can’t say that we didn’t get them,” Licht said during an editorial call, according to tweets from media insider/Reliable Sources vet Brian Stelter. “Kaitlan pressed him again and again and made news. Made a LOT of news.” He added: “That is our job.”
Despite Licht’s claims that the network got answers, Trump spent much of his time on screen dodging questions and peddling conspiracies. He repeated the “rigged” 2020 election lie, said the Jan. 6 insurrection crowd was comprised of people “with love in their hearts” and called Collins “a nasty person” when she pressed him to answer a question about the many classified documents he retained.
Trump also used the platform to further attack Carroll. “I have no idea who the hell she is. I don’t know who this woman is,” he said when discussing his sexual abuse and defamation against her.
He continued, repeatedly railroading Collins’ line of questioning, calling Carroll’s memory of his sexual abuse a “fake story, a made-up story” and called her a “whack job.” His smear campaign against the writer was often met with laughter and cheers from the crowd.
Licht used the call to address staff concerns about the night’s outcome and directly responded to the “uncomfortable” audience response. He said “hearing people clapping, that was also an important part of the story” because those people represent “a large swath of America” that has formerly been ignored in election coverage.
“America was served very well by what we did last night,” Licht concluded.
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This story originally appeared on TVLine