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Report: CNN’s Kaitlin Collins Under Increasing Pressure To ‘Avoid Trainwreck’ Townhall Interview with Trump

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Former President Donald Trump is set to appear on CNN for the first time in seven years on Wednesday, but the real pressure isn’t on him, it’s on his interviewer, according to a report on Saturday.

RadarOnline.com, quoting analysts, reported that CNN’s rising star, Kaitlin Collins, will have to “thread the needle” in order to pull off a successful townhall-style interview “at St. Anselm College before a live audience of New Hampshire Republicans and undeclared voters.”

Specifically, Collins will have her hands full navigating through Trump’s claims of a rigged 2020 election and appealing to a broader audience than the liberal-leaning network is used to as CEO Chris Licht continues his efforts to rebrand it as a middle-of-the-road outlet to improve overall viewership numbers.

Trump may be a big help to Licht in achieving that goal — or not, depending on how Collins does, say insiders and media analysts.

“Collins will have to very delicately thread a needle between challenging Trump on his conspiratorial bulls–t and moderating a town hall discussion that avoids a trainwreck,” wrote Mediaite reporter Colby Hall before framing the challenge facing Collins, who covered Trump’s term in office for CNN as a White House correspondent before taking a morning show gig alongside former network primetime host Don Lemon, who was fired last month, and Poppy Harlow.

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“Interviewing a controversial and polarizing character is an almost impossible job: no matter how tough you are on the subject, some critics will say you gave that person a pass,” Hall continued.

“Conversely, being too tough on a subject can torpedo an interview if done without enough discipline,” Hall added.

RadarOnline.com reported further:

Next week’s interview with Trump will also be a “big deal” for Licht because it will not only mark the first time Trump has appeared on CNN since his 2016 presidential campaign, but it comes as Licht works to move the network away from the “partisan theatrics” CNN “became known for” under Licht’s predecessor, Jeff Zucker.

Collins’ upcoming Q&A with the former president will not be the first time she is faced with an interview “high-wire act.”

Last week, the rising CNN star was tasked with confronting Dr. Anthony Fauci over his claims that the national Covid-19 mask mandate did not protect nearly as many Americans as initially believed.

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Hall added: “Fortune favors the bold, and both Trump and CNN could use a little fortune at the moment.”

Trump, in the past, has often quarrelled with CNN correspondents, most famously with Jim Acosta during his term, and has often referred to the network as “fake news” and an “enemy of the people.” But a senior Trump advisor justified their decision to accept the invitation, telling RealClearPolitics that the network executives had presented a compelling pitch.

“That kind of programming note wouldn’t drive headlines for other candidates. Voters don’t care about the minutia of journalists jostling for access. Of course, Trump is different though,” the site reported. “From his frequent attacks to his administration’s unsuccessful attempt to pull their White House press credentials, Trump vs. CNN was both a very real legal case and a feature of his administration.”

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According to a spokesman for NeverBackDown, a super PAC that is urging Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to run, Trump is rewarding former adversaries by agreeing to appear on CNN.

“Donald Trump has changed, and not for the better,” Erin Perrine told RealClearPolitics. “He’s now best friends with the woke media he used to call ‘fake news.’”

Trump’s spokesperson countered that he was running again to represent “all Americans,” and that made the decision to appear on a network not very friendly to Republicans all the more important.

“Going outside the traditional Republican ‘comfort zone’ was a key to President Trump’s success in 2016,” the advisor said. “Some other candidates are too afraid to take this step in their quest to defeat Joe Biden and are afraid to do anything other than Fox News.”

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