CNN told Trump town hall audience they could applaud but not boo: report

"There were also people that sat there quietly disgusted or bewildered," a Republican told Puck News

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published May 12, 2023 12:03PM (EDT)

Donald Trump (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Donald Trump (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Audience members were advised against booing and disrespecting former President Donald Trump during the disastrous CNN town hall on Wednesday, according to a Thursday report from Puck News.

Republican political consultant Matthew Bartlett told Puck's senior political correspondent, Tara Palmeri, that while many members of the audience applauded the former president, "there were also people that sat there quietly disgusted or bewildered," estimating that the audience was split in half.

"The floor manager came out ahead of time and said, Please do not boo, please be respectful. You were allowed to applaud," Bartlett said. "And I think that set the tone where people were going to try their best to keep this between the navigational beacons, and that if they felt compelled to applaud, they would, but they weren't going to have an outburst or they weren't going to boo an answer."  

Bartlett also said that the GOP frontrunner often "lost the audience" when he spoke about the Jan. 6 insurrection or the 2020 election, despite it appearing that audience was consistently in support of him.

"In a TV setting, you hear the applause, but you don't see the disgust," he said. "So Trump did not have the entire room on his side, make no mistake, even if it certainly came across that way on TV."

Bartlett also called out the back and forth between moderator Kaitlan Collins and Trump, alleging that it limited the amount of questions the audience got to ask, especially from those who were "really disgusted" with and "ready to confront" Trump about his behavior.

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Bartlett did, however, give Collins some credit for navigating the "very hard job" of fielding Trump's comments during the town hall as many others had in the aftermath of the event but added to the criticism the liberal news network received online and from other media personalities for its handling of Wednesday's town hall.

"What did CNN think? Trump is going to somehow acquiesce? Was this the first time they had met Donald Trump?" he told Palmeri. "It could have been a better format in my opinion."

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Tatyana Tandanpolie is a staff writer at Salon. Born and raised in central Ohio, she moved to New York City in 2018 to pursue degrees in Journalism and Africana Studies at New York University. She is currently based in her home state and has previously written for local Columbus publications, including Columbus Monthly, CityScene Magazine and The Columbus Dispatch.

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