CNN failed to arm Kaitlan Collins with the necessary tools to refute former President Donald Trump’s lie-filled rants during the contentious town hall, a media veteran told The Post.
The ratings-challenged network was slammed for its poor production value, which one source said was tantamount to throwing the 31-year-old Collins “to the wolves.”
“They needed to stop Trump from steamrolling her,” the longtime producer said of Wednesday night’s town hall with Trump.
Trump spouted his oft-repeated claim that the 2020 election was “rigged” as well as a litany of other conspiracy theories during the 70-minute town hall in front of a partisan crowd at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire.
“Everybody is talking about the people in the audience but there were no graphics or audio,” the source said. “I thought it was so poorly produced.”
The source noted that CNN producers could have played audio of Trump pressuring a Georgia official to “find” votes after the Republican front-runner in the 2024 election pressed his “Big Lie” claim.
Collins was left to verbally spar with Trump as he talked over her and at one point called her “nasty.”
“When someone is going to lie and you know he’s going to lie … you arm yourself with more than, ‘You said this.’ You have proof,” the source said. “This tactic could have disrupted Trump from steamrolling her.”
Kaitlan Collins was left to verbally spar with Donald Trump as he talked over her and at one point called her “nasty.”CNN
The person added: “It’s like in baseball: When a pitcher is in a rhythm, you have to stop him a little bit.”
Trump was also allowed to mock E. Jean Carroll, the columnist who successfully sued him for defaming her after she accused the former president of rape. Trump has denied the allegation.
The source said CNN could have challenged Trump with the interview he gave “Access Hollywood” — in which he crassly said how women let stars “grab them by the p—y.”
Critics also slammed Collins for not pressing Trump harder on certain points, such as his statement that he could stop Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine “in 24 hours.”
“She was borderline in over her head. She should have asked, ‘How?,’” the source said, adding: “Trump gets away with ‘I do this, I do that.’ She didn’t challenge him on specifics.”
Critics also slammed Collins for not pressing Trump harder on certain points, like his claim that he could stop Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine “in 24 hours.”CNN
Insiders questioned whether the network struck some kind of deal to omit graphics or any evidence contradicting Trump, citing his social media post the day before the town hall.
“They made me a deal I couldn’t refuse!!! Could be the beginning of a New & Vibrant CNN, with no more Fake News, or it could turn into a disaster for all, including me. Let’s see what happens?” Trump wrote on Truth Social.
CNN denied that the network made any special arrangements — including anything that would preclude it from playing audio or showing graphics.
“No, we made no deals like that,” a CNN rep told The Post.
CNN boss Chris Licht rallied around Collins during a 9 a.m. editorial meeting Thursday. Getty Images for Semafor
CNN boss Chris Licht, who has been trying to pivot the networks from left-leaning coverage in order to win over more viewers, rallied around Collins during a 9 a.m. editorial meeting Thursday.
“You do not have to like the former president’s answers, but you can’t say that we didn’t get them,” Licht said, according to the audio provided to The Post.
Licht shrugged off suggestions that Collins did not push back hard enough on Trump’s claims of election fraud and other matters.
“Kaitlan pressed him again and again and made news,” Licht told staffers.
“Made a lot of news,” he said, adding that “that is our job.”