CNN says Trump will appear at New Hampshire City Hall
NEW YORK (AP) — As president, Donald Trump regularly mocked CNN as “fake news.” Now back in action, Trump has agreed to appear next week on a live town hall forum from New Hampshire for CNN viewers. The event, scheduled for May 10 at St. Anselm’s College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, will be televised at […]
NEW YORK (AP) — As president, Donald Trump regularly mocked CNN as “fake news.” Now back in action, Trump has agreed to appear next week on a live town hall forum from New Hampshire for CNN viewers.
The event, scheduled for May 10 at St. Anselm’s College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, will be televised at 9 p.m. Eastern time. Kaitlan Collins will moderate. Trump will answer questions from Republicans and undeclared voters planning to run in the 2024 GOP primary.
While Trump has taken questions from the public at some rallies and has been interviewed by Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson on Fox News in recent weeks, this is his first town hall-style event of the 2024 campaign.
The booking is a clear attempt by Trump to draw a contrast with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, an anticipated GOP presidential primary opponent. It’s also a big deal for CNN’s collapse as it works to get past the era of former leader Jeff Zucker.
Trump never gave an interview to a CNN journalist during his presidency.
A Trump adviser who was not authorized to speak publicly said stepping outside the traditional comfort zone for Republicans was key to Trump’s success in 2016. The adviser said CNN executives had crafted a compelling pitch for Trump.
DeSantis has tried to avoid the mainstream media during his time in office, but he’s a regular on Fox News, a popular destination for conservative viewers.
DeSantis has long refused to conduct interviews or answer questions with other media outlets who might ask more difficult questions. When he holds press conferences, he often holds them far from the Florida capital and with little advance notice, making it difficult for journalists who know Florida politics best to attend.
Traveling the country as part of his book tour in recent weeks, DeSantis mostly avoided questions from voters or local reporters, aside from isolated interviews with conservative media outlets.
Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, a Republican who formally launched his presidential campaign last week, has appeared on MSNBC and CNN. Another contender, Vivek Ramaswamy, sat for a controversial interview with former CNN personality Don Lemon.
Trump’s relationship with CNN was complicated, especially given Zucker’s role in promoting Trump on “Celebrity Apprentice” when the executive was at NBC. CNN, led by Zucker, was also criticized for the extent to which it broadcast Trump campaign rallies early in the 2016 cycle.
As president, Trump denounced CNN as “fake news” and the “enemy of the people” and was annoyed by harsh questioning by reporters like Jim Acosta and Collins. He viciously attacked Zucker.
As a result, CNN became unpopular with Trump supporters and other Republican politicians. Current CNN Chairman and CEO Chris Licht, who replaced Zucker, has made it a mission to expand the network’s reach and ease some of the tension with the GOP.
The forums are a CNN tradition with presidential candidates, and the network has been in touch with other candidates to do something similar, said David Chalian, the network’s vice president and political director. DeSantis is not a declared presidential candidate.
“That would be a wonderful by-product if indeed other candidates say that we should also accept an invitation,” said Chalian. “But that’s not what we’re doing it for.”
Licht is also trying to rebuild CNN’s struggling primetime lineup. Landing Trump in front of City Hall — if things go well — could be a step toward achieving multiple goals.
Associated Press reporter Steve Peoples of Washington contributed to this report.