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CNN defends Trump broadcast after criticism

American news channel CNN Thursday defended its live appearance of Donald Trump following a deluge of criticism after the ex-president used the “town hall” interview to repeat falsehoods and hurl insults.

During the one-hour broadcast late Wednesday, Trump answered questions from registered Republicans and undeclared voters, with anchor Kaitlan Collins moderating the event and asking the 2024 candidate questions of her own.

The 76-year-old frontrunner for the Republican nomination repeated his false claim that the 2020 election had been rigged for President Joe Biden, which Collins pointed out was a lie.

Trump also said that if re-elected next year, he would pardon a “large portion” of the hundreds of his supporters who have been jailed for their roles in the January 6, 2021 storming of the US Capitol, to applause from members of the audience.

Trump also attacked writer E. Jean Carroll, who won a sexual abuse lawsuit and defamation against him on Tuesday, as a “whack job,” with some in the audience laughing at the remark.

“There is simply no way CNN can feign ignorance about the fact that they set up a sexual assault victim to be targeted and attacked on national television a day after the verdict,” tweeted Democratic lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Criticism came from outside the ranks of the Democratic Party as well.

“It’s hard to see how America was served by the spectacle of lies that aired on CNN Wednesday evening,” the network’s own media reporter Oliver Darcy wrote in a blog on CNN’s website.

“Trump frequently ignored or spoke over Collins throughout the evening as he unleashed a firehose of disinformation upon the country, which a sizable swath of the GOP continues to believe,” he added.

CNN said in a statement carried by US media that Collins had “exemplified what it means to be a world-class journalist.”

“She asked tough, fair and revealing questions. And she followed up and fact-checked President Trump in real time to arm voters with crucial information about his positions as he enters the 2024 election as the Republican frontrunner.

“That is CNN’s role and responsibility: to get answers and hold the powerful to account,” the network added.

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