Anderson Cooper tells viewers they have ‘every right’ to never watch CNN again over Trump town hall

Following the controversial and highly criticised CNN town hall featuring Donald Trump, one of the network’s top hosts, Anderson Cooper, addressed the backlash and attempt to justify the event.

The town hall featured Mr Trump in a moderated discussion with CNN host Kaitlan Collins, during which he made numerous false statements, advanced conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, and promised to pardon Capitol rioters charged with crimes for their participation in the insurrection attempt two years ago.

Cooper opened his show, Anderson Cooper 360, by addressing the town hall and the negative reaction it generated.

He acknowledged that many viewers expressed “deep anger and disappointment” following the event.

“Many of you are upset that someone who attempted to destroy our democracy was invited to sit on the stage in front of a crowd of Republican voters to answer questions and predictably continued to spew lie after lie after lie. And I get it. It was disturbing,” he said during the broadcast.

He acknowledged all of the objectionable statements Mr Trump made during the town hall — including how he insulted E Jean Carroll, who he was found guilty of defaming and sexually assaulting, called Ms Collins “nasty” and labeled the Black police officer who fatally shot Capitol rioter Ashli Babbitt a “thug” — and said he understood the pushback against CNN giving Mr Trump a platform to speak.

“Now, many of you think CNN shouldn’t have given him any platform to speak. And I understand the anger about that, giving him the audience the time. I get that,” he said.

Mr Cooper said that viewers “have every right to be outraged today and angry” and understood if they “never watch this network again.”

He also warned that the town hall’s audience — independents and Republicans — accounted for approximately half the US population and showed that Mr Trump could possibly win a second term, as he is “running hard.”

Mr Cooper then challenged viewers, warning them that staying in echo chambers will not stop Mr Trump from trying to take power once again.

“Do you think staying in your silo and only listening to people you agree with is going to make that person go away? If we all only listen to those we agree with, it may actually do the opposite. If lives are allowed to go unchecked, as imperfect as our ability to check them is on a stage in real time, those lies continue and those lies spread,” he said.

He concluded the segment by reminding viewers they can do something to prevent Mr Trump from winning in 2024.

“If you’re angry or upset, I understand, but you have the power to do something about it. You can actually get involved. You can make a difference,” he said. “Whatever side of the aisle you’re on after last night none of us can say, I didn’t know what’s out there. I didn’t know what’s coming.”