4.8
May 11, 2023

Lie Upon Lie Upon Lie: The CNN Covered Town Hall.

*Editor’s Note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal views of the authors, and can not possibly reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? We’re happy to share your experience here.

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Although I was undecided about watching the CNN Town Hall with The Former Guy, I just finished observing a debacle that played out for the world to watch.

In the presence of his “followers,” he began the hour with a lie that the 2020 election was rigged, stolen, fraudulent…ad nauseum.

Once the flood gates opened, he couldn’t help himself and continued to confabulate and deflect.

I don’t believe that CNN should have given him a platform, but since they did, I chose to watch, so I could write this piece about it. Kaitlan Collins, CNN correspondent, did what she could to call him out on his statements each time. Short of telling him to shut up, or muzzle him, there was no stopping the deluge.

Any topic was fair game, as questions were asked about the election, Title 42 ending tomorrow, the January 6th insurrection, pardoning the rioters who are incarcerated for their violent acts, the Dobbs decision, gun control, the war in Ukraine, and the outcome of the trial that awarded E. Jean Carroll five million dollars as he was found liable for sexual assault and defamation.

Once again, he denied knowing her and said that she was, “a whack job.” Seems to me that he was doing what he was found liable of, using defamatory words to describe her. When will he ever learn?

He expressed thinking that the United States should default on its debt and that the Republican Party should force it, which would be devastating for the country.

He wouldn’t say that he sided with Ukraine, and he said that if he was reelected, he would be able to stop the war in a day. He refused to call Putin a war criminal. He said he wanted people to stop dying, but wouldn’t say that Putin started the war or that he could end it, by surrendering. “We have run out of ammunition, because we gave it all to Ukraine,” was his statement.

He called the police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt as she was breaching the Capitol, a “thug.” When a question was asked about January 6th, he referred to Antifa and BLM committing more violence than those he saw as patriots.

He still contends that Mike Pence could have overturned the election. He continued to referring to the call he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger, as “perfect,” even though he asked him to “find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won this state.”

How to boost the economy? “Drill, baby, drill.”

A question about gun restrictions was responded to by encouraging teachers and guards at schools who are armed. Nothing about gun control. He spoke about mental health as a core factor.

He responded to a question about Roe v. Wade and how he would appeal to women voters. He cheered on the overturning the erstwhile settled law. He said, he considers “the other side to be radical,” and that some people would rip a nine-month-old baby from the womb and execute it. He would negotiate so that people are happy, WTF? He lauded the “three great judges” he appointed. He was avoiding the question about whether he would sign an abortion ban. He took credit for overturning Roe v. Wade.

Kaitlan did a phenomenal job, under the circumstances, fact checking on the spot. She did what she could to redirect him to the question when he would go rogue. I appreciate the self-control it took for her not to tell him to (as my mother would have said,) “Knock it off!” She stood her ground, literally, in the second half by standing and facing him. Once she did that, he resorted to insults, telling her she was “nasty” when she persisted in asking about the classified documents that he claimed he had the right to take with him.

I wonder why the head honchos at CNN chose her, rather than a more seasoned journalist such as Wolf Blitzer or Anderson Cooper. Would Trump have attempted to ride roughshod over them the way he did with her? With his obvious disrespect for women, that would have made for a more level playing field. Even though I am an unabashed feminist, having a young woman attempt to rein him in was doomed to failure.

The audience was a ready-made echo chamber filled with Republican and undecided voters. He was doing what he does, deflecting, speaking tangentially, replaying his grievances, or self-aggrandizing. He couldn’t give a straight answer if his life depended on it.

Can we expect him to be anyone other than who he is? Can we expect him to be honest? Can we expect him to be introspective? Can we expect him to take responsibility for his actions? Can we expect him to give a straight answer? Can we expect him to have a conscience? You and I already know the answer to these rhetorical questions.

What was even more disturbing, disgusting, and alarming was the reaction of the audience. These are people who stand by him no matter how horrific his intentions are, how fractured his relationship is with the truth. These are are people who laughed when he responded to the outcome of the trial that vindicated E. Jean Carroll. What kind of person laughs at talk about sexual assault?

Regardless of the outcome for TFG in the multiple charges facing him, how do we help break the spell cast over those who stand by him and would vote for him in a heartbeat even against their own interests?

Most important is the responsibility to vote, to encourage people to vote, to speak out and challenge lies whenever we hear them. In the court of public opinion, that is what it takes to save democracy.

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