CNN’s Kasie Hunt Ends Interview With Trump Spokeswoman After She Rails Against Debate Moderators; Network Defends Jake Tapper And Dana Bash — Update

UPDATED with CNN comment: CNN This Morning anchor Kasie Hunt cut off an interview with a Trump spokesperson Monday after she continually used a segment on debate prep to attack Hunt’s colleagues, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash.

During the interview, Trump campaign national press secretary Karoline Leavitt said that the former president “is knowingly going in to a hostile environment on this very network, on CNN, with debate moderators who have made their opinions about him very well known over the past eight years and their biased coverage of him.”

More from Deadline

Hunt then said that Tapper and Bash “have acquitted themselves as professionals as they have covered campaigns and interviewed candidates from all sides of the aisle.” She then noted that “if you talk to analysts or previous debates … if you are attacking the moderators, you are usually losing.”

She then tried to return to the topic of Trump’s debate prep, but Leavitt continued to attack Tapper. She said that “it takes about five minutes to Google Jake Tapper, Donald Trump to see that Jake Tapper has consistently…” Hunt then warned that “we’re going to stop this interview if you are going to keep attacking my colleagues. We’re going to stop this interview if you continue to attack my colleagues.” Leavitt then went on, “I am stating facts that your colleagues have stated in the past.”

Hunt then ended the segment. She wrote on X/Twitter, “You come on my show, you respect my colleagues. Period. I don’t care what side of the aisle you stand on, as my track record clearly shows.”

Trump and his allies have gone after Thursday’s debate moderators in speeches and interviews, with the former president referring to Tapper as “fake Tapper.” The working-the-refs in advance of Thursday’s debate is not a surprise: Trump has bashed the moderators in previous election cycles.

Later today, a network spokesperson issued a statement defending Bash and Tapper, calling them “well respected veteran journalists who have covered politics for more than five decades combined. They have extensive experience moderating major political debates, including CNN’s Republican Presidential Primary Debate this cycle. There are no two people better equipped to co-moderate a substantial and fact-based discussion and we look forward to the debate on June 27 in Atlanta.”

The difference is that this time around, the Trump campaign agreed to the debate and the conditions directly with CNN.

CNN is hosting the debate at its studios in Atlanta, but it is offering its feed to other networks for simulcast. All major broadcast and cable news networks plan to do so.

Leavitt wrote on X/Twitter, “You cut off my microphone for bringing up the debate moderator’s history of anti-Trump lies. This proved our point that President Trump will not be treated fairly on Thursday. Yet he is still willing to go into this 3-1 fight to bring his winning message to the American people, and he will win.”

More recently, the Trump campaign has been trying to build up expectations for Joe Biden in the debate, having often portrayed the president as feeble and senile. That’s why the latest grousing about the moderators is laying the groundwork for Trump to argue that a better-than-expected Biden performance was not fair given the moderators.

Best of Deadline

Sign up for Deadline's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.