Joining the chorus of critics of CNN's Wednesday town hall with former President Donald Trump this week was journalist Megyn Kelly, who blamed network anchor Kaitlan Collins as someone who was “ill-equipped” to keep things under control, as the Daily Mail reports.
The former Fox News personality's comments came during an episode of her SiriusXM podcast, The Megyn Kelly Show, and she blasted the manner in which Collins permitted the back-and-forth with Trump to spin “out of control.”
As the New York Post notes, Kelly opined that the entire event devolved into a “train wreck” due to Collins' inability to serve as an effective moderator.
“It failed on every front except one,” said Kelly. “It was wildly successful in giving Donald Trump an hour of free airtime to make his case without laying a glove on him,” she continued, adding sarcastically, “[c]ongrats, CNN.”
Taking issue with Collins' tactic of attempting to fact-check Trump in real time was a losing proposition from the start, calling it “nearly impossible in a live event” due to the former president's propensity to “say whatever he wants.”
Kelly gave Collins credit for doing “a decent job of trying to correct certain things” said by Trump, but lost credibility when she “injected her opinion, disguised as fact checks, in there.”
Homing in on specific problems she had with Collins' approach, Kelley wondered, “Why did she say the 2020 election wasn't rigged? What does 'rigged' mean?
Alleging palpable bias in Collins' presentation, Kelly added, “Who is she to declare to GOP voters – 63% of whom do not believe [President] Biden legitimately won the election – that all was fair and square?”
Answering her own question, Kelly opined of Collins, “She wanted to appease CNN's existing audience and her media critics.”
That desire, according to Kelly, prompted Collins to pepper Trump with questions on matters “only liberals” find relevant, asking nothing about “inflation or the banking crisis and what to do about it” and spending “three minutes on the economy and 20 on January 6th and the last election.”
Kelly was by no means the only prominent voice expressing displeasure with the CNN town hall, with a number of liberals also chiming in with their anger about the event – though for primarily different reasons.
Chief among the aggrieved progressives was Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), who declared, according to The Hill, “CNN should be ashamed of themselves.”
Tweeting in real time during the event, the congresswoman said, “They have lost total control of this 'town hall' to again be manipulated into platforming election disinformation, defenses of Jan. 6, and a public attack on a sexual abuse victim,” and apparent reference to the recent verdict against Trump in a civil lawsuit filed by writer E. Jean Carroll.
Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09) was similarly outraged, saying, “CNN put the nation's biggest con man, grifter, misogynist, and threat to Democracy on prime time for an hour,” as The Hill further noted.
Regardless of all the negative noise, CNN's evening with Trump brought a ratings boon to the beleaguered network, pulling in an impressive 3.3 million viewers and far surpassing all cable news competitors for the night, as the Mail reported separately.
A spokesperson for CNN praised Collins' performance, telling the Post that she “exemplified what it means to be a world-class journalist” in that she “asked tough, fair and revealing questions.
Network CEO Chris Licht also stood firm in his defense of the event, saying, “You do not have to like the former president's answers, but you can't say that we didn't get them,” the Mail noted. “While we all may have been uncomfortable hearing people clapping, that was also an important part of the story because the people in that audience represent a large swath of America.”
“I absolutely, unequivocally believe America was served very well by what we did last night. Covering Trump is tricky and messy, and it will continue to be messy and tricky, but it's our job,” Licht declared. Whether the network intends to host a similar, live, fact-checked event featuring President Joe Biden in similar service to the electorate, only time will tell.