By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 11, 2023 |
By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 11, 2023 |
I’ve been following Kaitlan Collins since her time as the White House correspondent for Tucker Carlson’s online outlet, The Daily Caller, where she wrote some appalling stories. She caught my attention because, despite working for that outlet, she asked then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer a few tough questions. CNN also took notice and the more pugilistic Jeff Zucker was quick to hire her away.
I thought it was a good hire because it meant there was at least one conservative journalist holding Trump accountable at the time. Collins is from Alabama and attended the University of Alabama. She is a fan of Alabama football, and her parents are likely conservatives. While in college, she tweeted some ignorant things for which she has since apologized. However, she was tough on the Trump Admin. Later, while working for CNN, she was temporarily barred from the White House for daring to ask Trump questions during a photo op. She was disliked by Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Kayleigh McEnany, the latter of whom referred to her as an “activist.” Regardless of her private politics or her first job, she was a good journalist.
She also made a memorable appearance in 2018 where she essentially stated, “Young women do not want to f**k their bosses.”
A message from @kaitlancollins to grown men: The young women that work for you do not want to date you. They do not want to be your soulmate. They do not want to get ice cream with you. They do not want to be your partner. I shouldn’t have to tell you this. pic.twitter.com/C3WiQGIhAH— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) January 24, 2018
She excelled as the White House correspondent, which ultimately led to her securing a position on CNN’s revamped morning show, outlasting Don Lemon. Meanwhile, CNN should not have allowed Donald Trump to do a Town Hall in front of a loudly supportive Trump audience last night, but if they had to do it (and they didn’t), Collins was probably the right choice to host — she’s not a known liberal, but she has a history of being tough on Trump. Unfortunately, she was put in a no-win situation. Trump called her nasty, and she was run over and humiliated, although not more so than several seasoned mainstream journalists who interviewed Trump in 2016, failing to fact-check him or ask follow-up questions, and essentially getting steamrolled.
Collins is now poised to become the new face of CNN. She is reportedly going to be offered the 9 p.m. slot that CNN hasn’t been able to fill successfully since Chris Cuomo was fired. Collins is the person Chris Licht is betting on. In Puck’s write-up yesterday, Dylan Byers reported, “At the very least, her performance tonight will set the tone for a new Collins era at CNN, which, barring any f*ck-ups, will extend at least through the 2024 presidential election.”
The f**k-up last night was colossal, although it was more CNN’s fault than the fault of Collins. Nevertheless, she got beat up by those on the left who thought she was rolling over for Trump because of her early association with The Daily Caller, and she got walloped on the right by MAGA trolls who thought she had an agenda and that she was out to take Trump down.
Based on Brian Stelter’s reporting — and despite the ferocious backlash to Collins’ moderation last night — it looks like Licht was impressed.
"You do not have to like the former president's answers, but you can't say that we didn't get them," Licht tells staffers, many of whom are angry about the town hall. "Kaitlan pressed him again and again and made news. Made a LOT of news." And "that is our job."— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) May 11, 2023
Covering Trump is "tricky and messy," Licht says, and it will "continue to be messy and tricky, but it's our job." He confidently says "America was served very well by what we did last night." Many CNN employees strongly disagree.— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) May 11, 2023
There are a number of people calling for Chris Licht’s resignation this morning. They’re not likely to get it, because Warner Brothers CEO David Zaslav seems to believe in him despite the network’s falling ratings. Licht and Zaslav believe they can claw back some of Trump’s audience without alienating their dwindling existing viewers. They think there is an audience in the center. They are wrong, and I suspect Collins will ultimately go down with the ship. Zaslav may like Licht now, but this is also the guy who canceled Batgirl. He is ultimately beholden to the bottom line. At some point, the powers that be will have to recognize that Licht’s experiment is not working, but given how little credibility cable news has left, it will probably be too late.