Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international anchor, was the latest person and the first on-air personality to disclose her displeasure publicly.
Amanpour, who on Wednesday was accepting the prestigious Columbia Journalism Award and served as the university’s 2023 commencement speaker, touched on this topic as well as her decades-long career and how it had informed her belief that journalists must provide the public clear-eyed coverage of the news.
Amanpour said that earlier in the week, she met with CNN president and CEO Chris Licht and that they “had a very robust exchange of views” concerning the town hall, adding that Licht stood by his decision to hold the town hall but welcomed Amanpour’s point of view.
“I still respectfully disagree with allowing Donald Trump to appear in that particular format,” Amanpour said, further elaborating that the American public already knows about his behavior and the outcomes from the last three elections have shown how they feel about him.
She added that part of the problem with the town hall was the audience’s presence, which cheered as Trump made bombastic comments. CNN should not have allowed for the jeering and cheering, she contended.
Amanpour further added she would have handled the “nasty person” rebuke made by Trump toward fellow CNN colleague and town hall moderator Kaitlan Collins differently, saying, “I would have dropped the mic at ‘nasty person,’ but then that’s me.”
Licht, according to Amanpour, conceded to her during their meeting that “the execution” of the town hall “was lacking a little” and assured her that “we will not witness that same appalling behavior in future town halls.”
According to CNN’s Oliver Darcy, Licht was aware of Amanpour’s comments in advance and even encouraged CNN staff to tune in to them while praising Amanpour’s accomplishment, saying in a note that it is a “rare and exceptional honor.”
Licht seems to be on an island when defending the network and its decision to host the town hall. He believes history will look kindly on CNN’s decision to bring in Trump.
Amanpour, meanwhile, defended CNN as a brand and implored people to give the news organization another chance, even as she acknowledged it “doesn’t mean we always get everything right.”
“I can only hope that your trust in us might have been shaken but not shattered,” she said. “That you believe we can survive and rebuild that trust.”