Former President Donald Trump will extend an olive branch to one of the most notorious anti-Trump political news networks on television when he attends a town hall in New Hampshire next week.
The event, hosted by CNN, will be Trump’s first time on a mainstream network other than Fox News since he left the set of a “60 Minutes” interview in October 2020.
After demonizing the mainstream media for years, Trump’s team is now reportedly attempting to rebuild his relationships with them as campaigning for 2024 picks up.
CNN will be eager to cash on on the ratings boost hosting Trump will provide, though it may result in criticism from the left. Both CNN and MSNBC were criticized in 2016 for giving Trump disproportionate media coverage during the Republican primaries.
The network’s leadership has also expressed interest in rehabilitating its brand with conservative viewers and commentators.
For Trump, the town hall brings the opportunity to control a news cycle and may provide mainstream respect and legitimacy among less partisan voters.
“Going outside the traditional Republican ‘comfort zone’ was a key to President Trump’s success in 2016,” a Trump adviser said to The Hill. “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 Fox News.”
The comments read as an attack on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, anticipated to be Trump’s most serious challenger. He has largely avoided major news networks while occasionally appearing on Fox News thus far.
CNN and Trump were reportedly in talks for weeks over his appearance at the town hall, where he’ll take questions from voters in the first GOP primary state.
It will be moderated by journalist Kaitlan Collins, who was once a prominent correspondent at the Trump White House before hosting CNN’s morning show.
The network is already taking some criticism for its decision.
Keith Olbermann, a staunch Trump critic and former MSNBC host, said: “I think we can say Chris Licht’s conversion of CNN into a political and journalistic whorehouse is complete.”