I didn’t watch the Trump Show on CNN last night. The notion that any serious news channel would give Comrade Trump a national platform to speak was ridiculous and offensive. I understand CNN’s desire to draw viewers; viewers draw advertising and advertising pays the bills. I get it. But to sacrifice journalistic integrity in order to…wait. Who am I kidding? Journalistic integrity? CNN started sacrificing that when it saw Fox News making serious coin by openly prostituting itself.
So no, I didn’t watch CNN last night. That said, I will admit to being curious about it, especially when I learned Kaitlan Collins would be given the job. She always seemed like a solid reporter. I mean, nobody would be able to stop Trump from his firehose lying, but maybe Collins would find some journalistic equivalent of a whip and a chair, and keep Trump partially at bay. It seemed unlikely, but not entirely out of the realm of possibility.
Reader, I was wrong.
This morning I’ve watched a few clips of that horrorshow. And Jesus suffering fuck, it was like that scene in Aliens when the xenomorphs are shredding the Colonial Marines. Kaitlan Collins tried her best, but she was overrun. Not just by Trump’s lies, but by the audience as well.
Since it was a supposed ‘town hall’ affair, I assumed there’d be a live audience. It never occurred to me that CNN — or any actual news organization — could be so massively stupid as to gather an audience “[c]omprised of Republicans and otherwise undeclared voters planning to participate in the 2024 GOP primary.” In other words, they invited a Trump-friendly crowd.
Let me just say that again. CNN voluntarily and knowingly held a ‘town hall’ meeting in New Hampshire, the most conservative state in New England (I mean, their goddamn motto is “Live free or die”), hosting the only twice-impeached POTUS in history — a man who fomented an actual insurrection in an attempt to illegally remain in office — the day after he’d been found liable for sexual assault, and then invited an audience of his followers to attend.
That is deeply stupid. That is stupid all the way down at the cellular level. CNN basically asked Kaitlan Collins to interview a great white shark in a pool of sharks and then spooned in chum. They fucking ate her alive.
At one point, Trump turned to Collins and called her a “nasty person.” And the audience laughed. Laughed and applauded. All I could think about was Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who testified under oath about being sexually assaulted by Trump’s SCOTUS nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. When asked why she was so confident about her memory of the assault, Ford said:
“Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.”
Emotional trauma is literally encoded on memory. The levels of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain sparked by the trauma sort of tattoo that experience onto the hippocampus — the part of the limbic system that consolidates information from short-term memory to long-term memory. Beyond the physical trauma of the assault, it was the casual, unthinking cruelty of the laughter that seared itself on Dr. Ford’s memory.
Cruel laughter. Trump called a respected television journalist a “nasty person” and his supporters cheered and laughed. It was exactly what they wanted. It’s what CNN gave them.
I was not surprised by Trump’s behavior last night; that’s who he is (and CNN had to know that). I’m shocked, but not surprised by the behavior of the audience; that’s who Trump supporters are (and CNN had to know that). But I am surprised and outraged that CNN, knowing who they were dealing with, deliberately brought those two explosive elements together and allowed them to detonate on a nation audience.
Fuck CNN in the neck.
Every day your country becomes more and more inexplicable to me. My suggestion is to get out while you can.
It’s a singularly uncomfortable period in this nation’s long, often uncomfortable history.
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