MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace torched cable news competitor CNN for its apparent hypocrisy on Thursday, wondering how the network can justify platforming Donald Trump’s “misogynistic attacks” so soon after firing anchor Don Lemon for his own allegedly sexist behavior.
During Wednesday night’s town hall with Trump, CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins—once Lemon’s co-host—was subjected to personal attacks, including the ex-president calling her a “nasty person.” Additionally, just a day after he was found liable for sexually abusing and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll, Trump called her a “wack job” while still denying he knew the famed columnist. Carroll, meanwhile, is considering a new defamation suit over his CNN remarks.
Wallace began her Thursday afternoon broadcast by contrasting CNN’s town hall—which featured the twice-impeached former president spewing election fraud lies—with Fox News’ recent settlement with Dominion Voting Systems over its promotion of 2020 election conspiracies.
“It reframes our questions today about the risk involved to one’s reputation in what was platformed…on CNN last night and whether, if perhaps intoxicated by the attention, maybe even the ratings, it becomes a pattern or practice or habit for them or anyone else to platform someone who we know ahead of time will spread known and established and repeated falsities on their airwaves,” she declared. “To put it another way, it’s not about last night. It’s about what happens next.”
Notably, CNN experienced its highest primetime ratings since the 2022 midterm election during the much-maligned town hall, drawing 3.3 million total viewers. The event topped all of cable news for the day, and beat MSNBC and Fox News combined during its time slot.
“No one will cast a single vote in any primary for seven months so there’s not a pressing electoral decision to be made by anyone alive in this country,” Wallace continued. “But for reasons actually articulated by the top of that company, a person named David Zaslav, Trump was platformed and published by CNN.”
Zaslav, the CEO of CNN’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, defended the network’s decision to air the town hall by invoking classic “both sides” logic. “The U.S. has a divided government. We need to hear both voices,” he told CNBC last week. “Republicans are on the air on CNN, Democrats are on the air. All voices should be heard on CNN.”
Wallace continued to blast CNN leadership for allowing Trump to use their airwaves to push a “cacophony of lies” before stating that the “company's part of the story too,” alluding to Lemon’s departure.
“CNN recently very publicly parted ways with anchor Don Lemon,” she noted. “It came in the aftermath of a comment he made on his broadcast that was viewed by his managers as misogynistic.”
Among the many reasons behind the veteran anchor’s unceremonious termination last month, Lemon’s on-air remarks about GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s “prime,” and the weeks of negative publicity it brought the network, played a substantial role in CNN’s decision.
“Those very same managers are the people who aired Trump’s misogynistic attacks last night on E. Jean Carroll that could invite further defamation suits,” Wallace concluded.