The Lesson for Journalists From Trump's Town Hall

Go with taped interviews, not live events, suggests media writer Jack Shafer at Politico
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2023 12:50 PM CDT
Everyone Stop Whining About That Town Hall
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2023, Saturday, March 4, 2023, at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

CNN has taken lots and lots of criticism for its town hall with former President Trump, usually along the lines of, "That wasn't journalism, it was a Trump rally." In a Politico essay, media writer Jack Shafer would like everyone to calm down. "Enough with the bellyaching," is how the headline puts it. Yes, Trump is a "lying chatterbox," writes Shafer, and, no, CNN's Kaitlan Collins had no hope of keeping up with every one of his untruths, though she did acquit herself admirably. But the town hall wasn't a mistake. "The job of journalism is to confront the world and its actors as they are, not shrink away from them in fright because covering them might benefit them," writes Shafer.

Trump critics may not like it, but he is the GOP frontrunner by a mile, and a news outlet "can’t avert its eyes during a campaign" because it doesn't like the candidate. What's more, by "daring to commit journalism, it produced a bounty of information that just may damage Trump" down the line. (He already faces another potential lawsuit from E. Jean Carroll.) Maybe the biggest lesson for journalists out of all this is that the best way to take on Trump is not in a live event but in a taped interview, where he can't "eat up the clock with non-answers." Shafer, for one, thinks we should look forward to the next Trump TV interview, "for all the good and bad it will surely deliver." (Read his full piece.)

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