CNN Anchor Abruptly Boots Trump Spokesperson

Karoline Leavitt accused this week's debate moderators of anti-Trump bias
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2024 6:42 AM CDT
On-Air Sparring May Be Preview of Debate Strategy
Donald Trump spokesperson Karoline Leavitt speaks to reporters across the street from Trump's trial in New York on May 28.   (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

The first presidential debate is Thursday, and things already are turning nasty between host CNN and the camp of Donald Trump. On Monday, CNN anchor Kasie Hunt abruptly cut off an interview with Trump spokesperson Karoline Leavitt, reports Mediaite. After Leavitt called debate moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash biased against Trump, Hunt defended them and said Leavitt was there to talk about the former president, not the moderators.

  • Leavitt: "Well, first of all, it takes someone five minutes to Google 'Jake Tapper, Donald Trump' to see that Jake Tapper has—"
  • Hunt: "Ma'am, we're gonna stop this interview if you're going to keep attacking my colleagues."
  • The cutoff: The two talked over each other, with Leavitt continuing her line of attack ("I am stating facts that your colleagues have stated in the past") and Hunt calling off the interview: "OK, I'm sorry guys, we're gonna come back out to the panel." Watch the moment here.

  • Strategy: "The on-air sparring signaled that the Trump campaign is setting the groundwork for portraying the debate as biased against the former president as he prepares to take the stage at the network's studios in Atlanta," per Politico. The debate will have no live audience, and the moderators will be able to mute the microphones of President Biden and Trump—essentially what Hunt did to Leavitt.
  • Aftermath: Both stood their ground afterward. "CNN cutting off my microphone for bringing up a debate moderator's history of anti-Trump lies just proves our point that President Trump will not be treated fairly," Leavitt said, per Fox News. Hunt tweeted: "You come on my show, you respect my colleagues. Period. I don't care what side of the aisle you stand on, as my track record clearly shows."
  • Left and right: "When the going gets tough, CNN just shuts things down," writes Karen Townsend at Hot Air, supporting Leavitt's view that the debate will be tilted against Trump. Others on the right echoed the theme, including Rep. Matt Gaetz here. At the New Republic, Edith Olmsted suggests that Trump allies seem afraid their candidate is going to lose: "That's why they're doing everything they can to undermine the debate's legitimacy before it even happens."
(More Election 2024 stories.)

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