Trump seeks to restore relationships with the media, beginning with CNN

 May 3, 2023

Next week, when former President Trump participates in a CNN town hall event in New Hampshire, which will be his first interview with a major network other than Fox News since he abruptly left the set of a "60 Minutes" interview in late October 2020.

However, according to Trump's advisers, this is unlikely to be the last occasion, according to a report on the issue by The Hill.

Trump's first CNN appearance in years comes at a time when the former president and his team are attempting to mend ties with mainstream media after years of demonizing them.

While Trump's relationship with Fox News, one of the largest television networks, remains complicated, the agreement to hold a town hall event with CNN is a momentous occasion that offers potential benefits to both parties.

Impact on CNN

CNN's ratings could increase, but the network runs the danger of being accused of paying too much attention to Trump. CNN and MSNBC were both criticized for their coverage of Donald Trump during the 2016 Republican primary campaign.

Trump receives the attention and the ability to control the news cycle by appearing on CNN. In the wake of his false claims that fraud caused his 2020 loss — and the violence of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — it could also grant him respect and legitimacy from the mainstream. Trump's staff believes that getting him on networks across the media landscape will improve their prospects.

A Trump adviser told The Hill that "going outside the traditional Republican 'comfort zone' was crucial to President Trump's success in 2016." "Some other candidates are too afraid to take this step in their quest to defeat Joe Biden, and are afraid to do anything other than watch Fox News."

This is a clear reference to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), who is widely regarded as Trump's chief rival for the 2024 GOP nomination and who has largely intimidated the nation's leading media outlets. DeSantis has not yet declared for the 2024 election. The Trump adviser indicated the former president intended to conduct similar events with other networks in the future.

Trump is currently leading national Republican primary polls approximately nine months before the Iowa caucuses. A CBS News poll released on Monday found that 58 percent of Republican voters intended to support Trump, followed by 22 percent who intended to support DeSantis.

DeSantis has limited his interviews to friendly media outlets, such as local conservative publications in Florida and Fox. As he seeks to raise his national profile in preparation for a likely bid for the Republican nomination for president, DeSantis, like Trump, has made frequent enemies of the media and CNN in particular.

In October of last year, after a hurricane devastated Florida's Gulf Coast, the governor harshly reprimanded a CNN reporter who questioned whether local authorities issued an evacuation order too late. The incident was extensively shared on social media by conservatives praising Trump's attack on what he has frequently referred to as "the corporate press."

Trump's Recent History With the Media

In the past two years, Trump has been largely confined to conservative media echo chambers as he continues to promote his discredited claims that the 2020 election was hijacked. He has appeared on OAN and Newsmax, and he has conducted interviews with Fox News commentators such as Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, who was the anchor at the time.

Next week's town hall will be the first time Trump has appeared outside of that stable of networks since October 2020, when he did the "60 Minutes" interview for CBS and sat down for a town hall event with NBC's Savannah Guthrie following the cancellation of a presidential debate over COVID-19 concerns following Trump's contracting of the virus.

Trump will participate in a CNN town hall on May 10 in New Hampshire, where he will answer queries from voters in the first state to hold a Republican primary. The event will be moderated by Kaitlan Collins, a journalist who ascended to prominence as a Trump White House correspondent and now hosts CNN's morning program.

CNN, like the majority of mainstream news outlets, experienced a significant increase in ratings and visibility during Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and his four years in office. In recent years, however, and in Trump's absence, cable networks' viewership has declined, with CNN experiencing some of the sharpest declines.

The agreement with Trump's team also coincides with CNN's management under WarnerBros. Discovery seeks to restore its reputation among conservative thought leaders and viewers.

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