Trump forum a big test for CNN, moderator Kaitlan Collins

May 9, 2023  -NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s town hall forum on CNN on Wednesday is the first major television event of the 2024 presidential campaign — and a gigantic test for the chosen moderator, Kaitlan Collins.

Both sides of the political divide expressed suspicion when the CNN forum at New Hampshire’s St. Anselm College was announced last week. Some Democrats question whether the former president should be given the airtime, while Republicans wonder if a network Trump has long disparaged can be fair.

Once it begins, Collins must give audience members the chance to ask questions while determining when to step in with her own. She’ll weigh how to correct misinformation in a potentially hostile environment: Invited town hall participants are those who expect to vote in a Republican primary.

“It’s a balance beam and it can be walked,” said Frank Sesno, a former CNN Washington bureau chief now at George Washington University. “We’re going to see if Kaitlan is worthy of the Olympics.”

CNN would not make Collins available to talk before the event, scheduled for 8 p.m. Wednesday.

It speaks to Collins’ stature that she was given the assignment at a network with no shortage of experienced political journalists — Dana Bash, Anderson Cooper, Jake Tapper, Chris Wallace. She worked at The Daily Caller, the conservative website launched by Tucker Carlson, before turning occasional guest appearances on CNN into a full-time job in 2017.

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