Opinion | Was CNN Right to Air the Trump Town Hall?

More from our inbox:

To the Editor:

In the past week several journalists have weighed in defending CNN’s decision to hold a town hall with Donald Trump. These include Maureen Dowd’s May 14 column (“No Playing Ostrich With Trump”), Anderson Cooper’s commentary on CNN and Bill Sammon, a former managing editor at Fox News, in an Opinion guest essay (“We’re Asking the Wrong Questions About the Trump Town Hall,” nytimes.com, May 13).

They all make the point that the media has an obligation to cover Mr. Trump given his political prominence. But there is a difference between covering Mr. Trump and giving him his own TV special, which is exactly what it was.

It was irrelevant whether Kaitlan Collins asked tough questions — as a matter of fact the tougher the better for Mr. Trump to swat down with his usual non sequitur bluster while the MAGA-packed audience applauded wildly. When Mr. Trump calls you a “nasty person” and the audience applauds, you are simply a foil.

The second point these journalists make is that the media must show us who Mr. Trump is. This is enough to make a cat laugh. It’s been Trump, Trump, Trump for eight years now. What don’t we know?

CNN got a surge in its ratings from the Trump show. It’s all about the money.

Walter Von Ahn
Pottsville, Pa.

To the Editor:

In his guest essay, Bill Sammon persuaded me that the media should vigorously cover Donald Trump rather than banish him from television. But I strongly disagree with his defense of the town hall format.

Should we ban all town halls? Absolutely — at least the televised ones. They are pure theater, goosing the proceedings the way a laugh track enlivens many a mediocre sitcom. Why do we need to watch as people hoot and cheer (or boo and jeer)? How does that advance the cause that Mr. Sammon sensibly advocates?

He blithely dismisses concerns about the audience being packed with Trump supporters, arguing that it was not really true — it’s just that they’re the noisy ones. But this is television, for heaven’s sake! Of course the noisy ones will dominate!

This format creates precisely the circus atmosphere that draws viewers, but hinders the cause of rational political discourse. The media should thoroughly cover the carnival barker, but should not provide the carnival.

Stephen Bubul

To the Editor:

As much as I detest Donald Trump, I think that Bill Sammons’s point was well made. The moderator was excellent. Yes, the town hall did give Donald Trump valuable airtime, and yes, his followers in the audience cheered him on.

But it also showed his overbearing, rude, blustering and lying manner. In not so subtle ways, I believe that it showed the truth about Mr. Trump.

Austin Kenefick
Chicopee, Mass.

The Moral Struggle in American Politics

To the Editor:

Re “Biden and the Struggle for America’s Soul,” by David Brooks (column, April 28):

Mr. Brooks’s column represents some of the finest writing I’ve encountered about the dangers of Trumpism and men of his ilk wielding power in other nations. If we are to have any hope for the future of the American experiment, we must reject the dark nihilism of selfishness and cruelty that are the lodestar of Trumpism.

There is no way this nation can listen to the better angels of our nature unless we have a leader who does so.

Jasmine Marshall Armstrong
Merced, Calif.

To the Editor:

David Brooks describes the moral decision we must make in the next election. This will be a choice “between an essentially moral vision and an essentially amoral one, a contest between decency and its opposite.”

In this context it is tragic that so many Christians have turned their back on New Testament teachings of love and forgiveness and chosen instead the “red in tooth and claw” moral nihilism of Donald Trump and Trumpism.

It is my sincere hope that Christians who have chosen Trumpism in past elections will return to their moral roots of kindness and compassion.

Richard Winchell
St. Charles, Ill.

To the Editor:

I don’t always agree with David Brooks’s politics — just as I don’t always agree with Joe Biden’s — but I thank Mr. Brooks for framing the 2024 election in what I believe to be the right terms.

One may be a Republican or a Democrat, conservative or liberal, but I hope all can reject a narcissistic, bombastic, misogynistic, inveterate liar who has no true principles, only amoral self-interest, as motivation.

Richard B. Schwarz
Bayville, N.Y.

Simple Acts of Humanity to Help the Homeless

To the Editor:

I just finished reading “The Struggle to Save Abdul” (front page, May 14), and I am moved to tears. I live in Bankers Hill, a part of downtown San Diego, and while I am fortunate enough to have a condo here, I share this neighborhood and adjoining Balboa Park with many people experiencing homelessness.

It can feel overwhelming, watching the number of people on the streets rise, worrying for my safety and theirs, and wondering if there’s anything one single person can do to stop the deluge caused by systems so much bigger than any of us.

But reading Eli Saslow’s piece about Abdul Curry made me remember that simple acts of humanity go a long way. I can’t fix the economy, but I can carry warm socks, granola bars and kind words with me as I walk by my neighbors.

It’s far from enough, but as Laine Goettsch’s support of Abdul reminded me, you’ve got to start somewhere.

Lauren Marie Fleming
San Diego

Misinterpreting a Study on Masking

To the Editor:

Re “We Still Need to Know How Well Masking Works,” by Jennifer B. Nuzzo (Opinion guest essay, May 1):

Dr. Nuzzo rightly argues for more public funding to assess whether masking works, but she ignores several crucial challenges.

The recent Cochrane review, which has been misconstrued by much of the media and the public as showing that masks aren’t effective, had problems with how it was conducted and messaged. Most of the studies reviewed in the report examined influenza, not Covid — very different viruses. None of the studies even investigated N95 masks for Covid!

The review’s authors also poorly communicated their conclusions, which said, “We are uncertain whether wearing masks or N95/P2 respirators helps to slow the spread of respiratory viruses based on the studies we assessed.” Indeed, Cochrane recently apologized for the ambiguous wording, admitting that it “was open to misinterpretation, for which we apologize.”

Given the rising politicization of science in public health, researchers must anticipate as much as possible how the public may misinterpret findings. Alas, scientists lack training in doing so, and frequently don’t try to prevent misinterpretation. The Cochrane review mentioned limitations in passing, but failed to highlight them. Enhanced public education about science is also vital.

To improve our ability to combat future epidemics, which will surely occur, we urgently need to address these problems, too.

Robert Klitzman
New York
The writer is a professor of psychiatry and director of the bioethics masters program at Columbia University.

Source: Read Full Article