The justifications for CNN’s Trump town hall reveal the deeper pathologies and fallacies that have characterized the Trump discourse since 2016
Finally, a valuable and realistic opinion piece. Thanks for this.
Excellent piece. What I don't understand is Licht's business rationale. His job is not to assure that the news is reported fairly and accurately. It's to maximize viewership and ad dollars. Why does he think pandering to Trump and MAGA is going to increase eyeballs? MAGA won't watch CNN--they won't even watch Fox News if it strays from strict fascism. This makes a rightist CNN a right-wing spoiler, drawing a (relatively) few viewers to itself so that no one--not Fox; not Newsmax; not ONAN (sic); not CNN--gets enough. This is what Keith Olbermann mocks--"Increase ad revenue by decreasing viewership."
Missing from this piece (although implicitly haunting it) is the crucial, one could even say existential, distinction between truth and lies. Whenever Licht, Anderson Cooper, or anyone else chides liberals for not "listening to both sides," they should be sharply smacked and sent to their room without dessert, because Trump's "side"--an endless cloud of lies--is not a side at all.
With regard to any argument, falsehoods do not embody an alternate political position. In this regard, at least, Trump makes it easy on everyone. Everything he says pubicly (and, for all I know, privately), is a lie. Literally everything. Which means the proper response to whatever he says is not to *evaluate* it, but to swat it aside. If that means he should not be interviewed at all, that's a defensible position. If you must interview him, then to each of his answers you must say, "No, that's false. The truth is, X. Now, next question..." CNN's problem is not that they don't know this. It's that they know this but don't care.
Coincidentally I saw this right after reading this description of how Erdogan manipulates the media, as well as the courts etc, to win elections in Turkey. Scary. https://wapo.st/3BJCfVk
BUT, I got hung up when you wrote that: " a more pressing question than whether or not the institutions tasked with upholding democracy possess the strength and/or will to mount an effective defense against an authoritarian movement that could not be clearer about its ideology and goals."
All this is happening is happenning precisely BECAUSE our institutions ARE NOT working to "uphold democracracy." because none one want the job. As you note, most deny or rationalize the harsh reality right in front of them. There is no concerted effort to resist.
The notion of a tipping point makes some kind of sense conceptually, but none at all empirically. At least not looking in a forward direction. And yet, the dilemma of describing the slide into fascism and absurdity is that too many absolutely refuse to accept it even conceptually until they have seen its effects in hindsight. Meanwhile, as you say, we'll have any number of talking heads explain to us that the system is working because the lights are still on... until they're not any more.
I was more than disappointed in Cooper. I was disgusted. I will not watch that network anymore.
You articulated exactly how I was feeling about that town hall. And, you were able to do that even though English is not your mother tongue.