U.S. President Donald Trump looks on during a commercial break during an hour-long live NBC News Town Hall Forum with a group of Florida voters in Miami, Florida, the United States, October 15, 2020.
Carlos Barria | Reuters
When Chris Licht took over as CEO of CNN last year, he made a promise to viewers.
“The analogy I like to use is that some people like rain, some people don’t. We should give it space. But we’re not going to have anyone come and say it’s not raining,” Licht said in an October interview with CNBC.
Licht was talking about CNN guests and panelists spreading disinformation such as voter fraud lies when he made the comment.
On Wednesday, CNN will welcome former President Donald Trump to attend a town hall. This seems to be a case of light bending its own rules. CNN clearly has different standards for Trump than spokespeople for Trump, who cycle through the cable news channels as daily guests.
Trump has repeatedly made false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Hundreds of his supporters violently stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 to prevent Congress from confirming Joe Biden’s victory after Trump told them in a speech: “If you don’t fight like hell, you won’t make a country.” have more .”
CNN vowed to hold Trump accountable during town hall.
“President Trump is the Republican frontrunner, and our job, despite his unique circumstances, is to do what we do best,” a CNN spokesman said. “Ask tough questions, follow up and hold him accountable to give voters the information they need to sort through their choices.”
Invitation from Trump to CNN
Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav and board member John Malone have been open about their belief that CNN should be less of an “advocacy network” and more of a lower-midfield news network than what they believed to be at the time Jeff Zucker was in charge Trump’s years as President.
“He should be,” Zaslav said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Friday when asked if he wanted to nominate Trump for City Hall. “He’s the Republican front runner. He has to be there.”
CNN opts for a live town hall rather than a taped interview with Trump, which could then be reviewed before it airs. That would be a safe bet, but live town hall will likely bring higher ratings for CNN, which was bleeding viewers due to program changes.
Trump skewed his media appearances heavily toward Republican-leaning Fox News during his presidency. He attended an NBC town hall hosted by Savannah Guthrie in October 2020.
CNN is taking notes on the event as it prepares for Trump, according to people familiar with the matter. Guthrie has consistently challenged Trump for his propensity to spread false information, once telling him, “You’re the President, you’re not like someone’s crazy uncle.”
The CNN Town Hall will be hosted by Kaitlan Collins, who is co-host of CNN’s new morning show. Collins was CNN’s chief White House correspondent during the Trump administration.
“We have a divided government. We need to hear both voices,” Zaslav said on CNBC on Friday. “Republicans are on the air on CNN and Democrats are on the air on CNN. All voices should be heard on CNN.”
WATCH: CNBC’s full interview with Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav