Donald Trump reportedly got to name the conditions of his rally styled as a town hall on CNN, including who would host and moderate. Predictably, he is now insulting that person, Kaitlan Collins, as “not exactly Barbara Walters, or even close.”
Even Trump knows it wasn’t a town hall, writing on his social media outlet: “It’s really amazing to watch the head of CNN get absolutely lambasted for asking me to do a so-called Town Hall.” He added, “In all fairness, nobody had any problems with what he wanted to do until after the show started, when they quickly realized that Ms. Collins was not exactly Barbara Walters, or even close. That’s when the trouble from the Radical Left started.”
Naturally, Trump is lying/wrong about when the trouble started and the trouble wasn’t just coming from the “radical left.” Most people of any moral dignity were appalled in advance that CNN not only stacked the “town hall” with Republican Trump supporters, but that they were airing it at all after he was found liable for sexual battery and defamation just hours prior.
Donald Trump then proceeded to – predictably- RE-defame his victim unchecked on CNN.
Donald Trump then proceeded to – predictably – use Kaitlan Collins as a foil to humiliate for the pleasure of his audience, calling her a “nasty person” when she tried even a somewhat feeble push back.
And now he is calling her a bad journalist and interviewer.
As has been pointed out elsewhere on these pages, Collins did not do the job that a Jake Tapper, Dana Bash, Jim Acosta would have done. Trump’s team said they wouldn’t have done the rally “town hall” had Tapper been the host. So Trump picked Collins because she had maintained a relationship and he felt he could dominate her, which he did.
Why did CNN allow this?
There is a long history of Trump abusing women reporters and journalists. In 2016, they banded together in solidarity and defense. (My closing on that piece was tragic prophesy in hindsight, “Donald Trump is uniting women reporters against him with these tactics, and showing what an irresponsible, dangerous leader he is just as a candidate. Can you imagine if he had more power?”)
Donald Trump stalked Hillary Clinton at a debate, one that he had already gamed emotionally by stacking the audience with women who had accused her husband of sexual misconduct.
Clinton told Ellen DeGeneres in October of 2016 that Trump was trying to dominate her with his stalking behavior, “Because of the revelation of the public video, and everything that came out on Access Hollywood, you know, he was really all wrought up, and you could just sense how much anger he had,” Clinton said. “And so, he was really trying to dominate and then literally stalk me around the stage.”
Trump has a history of being a predatory misogynist, especially when people are watching. His base delights in his dominance of women, using women as objects upon which they can discharge their rage at a changing world.
There’s even history of Trump treating another conservative woman hosting a televised election event like dirt, when in 2016 Fox News’ Megyn Kelly came prepared for Trump during a 2015 Republican debate.
Kelly asked Trump about his derogatory language about women, including calling women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.”
Trump later told CNN’s Don Lemon (who has now been let go and after the town hall, that move might deserve more scrutiny given that the reason cited does not appear to be a universal value of respecting women) that Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever.”
I defended Megyn Kelly then and want to defend Kaitlan Collins now, because when women are treated with such brutal contempt and it’s televised to broad audiences, it hurts all women and girls.
CNN’s own host had to field that moment, so CNN had years of prior knowledge of how Trump operates with women.
Trump uses misogyny just like he uses racism — both are tools to make a show of dominating and humiliating others to elevate himself. Insulting others is the go-to weapon of the weak and cheap.
So Licht knew Trump would use Collins this way.
Megyn Kelly battled Trump fiercely and got attacked for it, while Collins put on a rather ineffective performance that was publicly championed by her boss and colleagues and also got attacked for it.
Gee. There might be a problem with Trump and women, like he’s been found by a jury of his peers to have sexually abused a woman and has 26 credible accusations of sexual misconduct. The takeaway here for other networks is the misogynist will always perform as expected.
From the outside, it looks as if CNN set Collins up to be Trump’s foil, because she was tasked with the impossible of being the host, moderator and fact-checker of a known Gish galloper whose lies come fast, furious, and with a huge side of contempt.
This much is clear: Collins was used as a foil for Donald Trump, and while it might have made her career if Trump is the nominee, it also damaged women seeking to be seen as worthy of respect at work, it damaged sexual assault victims, and it did great further damage to E. Jean Carroll. That is to say, it accomplished everything a man like Trump needs in order to deflect from his own inadequacies.
When misogyny is publicly rewarded like this, it metastasizes.
Now Trump is suggesting Collins isn’t even good at her job, as the cherry on top of his misogyny.
This is a disgusting and untrue attack from a man who picked her knowing he would be able to dominate her, just so he could humiliate her when she failed to keep him in line.
There is a vast difference between not being able to handle a Trump type and not being good at one’s job as a TV host. She is good at her job; she was simply not able to be effective at this one part of it, for a myriad of reasons, some of which have nothing to do with her.
We’ve seen this show before, and it’s starting to feel like we are all being played again.
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Sarah has been credentialed to cover President Barack Obama, then VP Joe Biden, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and exclusively interviewed Speaker Nancy Pelosi multiple times and exclusively covered her first home appearance after the first impeachment of then President Donald Trump.
Sarah is two-time Telly award winning video producer and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.