Friday, May 12, 2023


I watched extended excerpts of the "town hall" they recently hosted, in which they placed Donald Trump on a stage with a moderator.  I'd wondered why Trump would agree to such a thing, as he's instinctively averse to any environment that doesn't further his brand.  Why sit up on a stage and be grilled about his relentless, reflexive lies?  Right there, a moderator who called him out, who wouldn't let him continue to claim...against all evidence...that the last presidential election was "rigged."  

The answer: the moderator does not matter.  What matters is the audience.

Think back to the first debate between Trump and Clinton.  Hillary, who was and always will be The Smartest Girl In the Room, was expecting it to be a debate.  Formal, fusty, a delivering of talking points and canned zingers.  She's good at that.

But Trump brought the hype, filled the crowd with his loud.  He's not interested in primetime.  He's going for daytime. Jerry Springer.  Maury Povich.  

Donald John Trump couldn't care less if you've got a good point.  He knows that doesn't matter.  What he wanted...and what he got...was audience response.  He made sure that the crowd in attendance at that first debate with Hillary was packed with his partisans, who howled and laughed and applauded on cue.  It was unprecedented, and Hillary was blindsided.  To folks watching at home, it didn't matter what he said.  It mattered how it sounded.  It sounded like he was winning.  

The CNN "town hall" took place in front of a similar audience, one that Trump packed with MAGA Republicans.  Having the crowd behind him as he pitched out his points meant that efforts to stop him were meaningless.  Better yet, for him, it meant that the moderator could become the "heel," her efforts at correction shouted down as Trump confidently lied about the last election and parroted Russian propaganda.

It was a dominance display, and in that, it served his purposes.