A Journalist once banned by one White House Event for asking awkward questions about Vladimir Putin hosts an event featuring a criminally vulnerable man who lied about the result of the 2020 presidential election at a town hall that was broadcast on the cable news channel he is responsible for publishing fake news made.
On Wednesday night, the couple broadcast from a New Hampshire liberal arts college, where Mr Trump took questions from Collins and an audience of 400 Republican and Centrist voters during prime time on CNN.
Collins is best known for her previous role as CNNWhite House Correspondent. She delivered breaking news from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in an authoritative, confident tone throughout the Trump presidency and quickly became a household name on the silver screen and political authority.
Collins was born in Alabama to a family she had previously described as “apolitical.” She graduated from Alabama University in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and shortly thereafter moved into the industry.
After working at the entertainment desk for two years The daily callerthe outlet founded by Tucker Carlson in 2010, Collins became the site’s White House Correspondent after also covering the outlet’s 2016 election.
“The day [Mr Trump] “The inauguration was my first day in the White House and it was obviously an adventure that started that day,” she said in an interview with With style Magazine. “We had no idea what lay ahead.”
In 2017, she joined CNN’s policy team and became its White House correspondent – a role in which she clashed with then-President Trump and his press secretaries on numerous occasions.
In one such incident in 2018, she was actually barred from a White House press event for allegedly asking “inappropriate” questions about issues like the Russian president Wladimir Putin during Mr Trump’s meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
“They said, ‘You’re banned from the press release at the Rose Garden today,'” Collins told CNN at the time. “They said the questions I asked were inappropriate for this venue. And they said I screamed.”
Her style of questioning often did not go down well with the Trump White House, which unofficially declared war on CNN during the 2016 campaign and Mr Trump’s tenure in the White House, and she was once described by the press secretary at the time Kayleigh McEnany as an “activist”.
But for all her “inappropriate” questions and her affiliation with CNN, Collins appears to have escaped the former president’s scathing online attacks that many of her peers have faced – suggesting she is far better placed than others to to take a stand at City Hall.
It’s even believed that she was offered the role in large part thanks to her experience interviewing the former president.
“He wants to intimidate and bully [the press] So you don’t ask him what he doesn’t want to be asked about. You must remember to focus on the question and get an answer. “Being banned by him really prepared me for that,” she said With style on previous interviews with Mr. Trump.
Most recently, in September 2022, Collins changed hosts CNN this morning with Don Lemon and Poppy Harlow as part of a major overhaul of the network’s schedule by new CEO Chris Licht.
The transition was anything but smooth. Lemon shared Ways with CNN in April amid an outcry over sexist comments on the show, but not before he reportedly yelled at Collins and burst into tears off show.
There may be other big changes ahead for Collins, Dyland Byers said just hours before New Hampshire City Hall Puck News reported that Licht plans to offer Collins a new contract to host the station’s 9pm prime time.
The move could be announced as early as next week as CNN continues its pivot toward a more centrist stance.
“Kaitlan’s offer is not conditional on her performance at City Hall tonight, but given the Trump X Factor, these 90 minutes have the potential to change, accelerate or stall the arc of her career,” Byers said. “At the very least, her performance tonight will set the tone for a new Collins era at CNN that, barring any glitches, will last at least until the 2024 presidential election.”
There is always pressure on town hall presenters to keep track as there are many moving parts to such a format. In this case, the person answering the questions – Mr Trump – has just been found guilty of sexual abuse and faces a host of other legal issues and investigations ranging from alleged financial irregularities and election interference to his role in the events around around the riot in the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
An aspiring journalist, Collins has faced controversy and challenging situations during her time at CNN. However, the town hall on Wednesday – which generated a significant backlash about whether it’s appropriate to give Mr. Trump a platform — was perhaps her biggest test yet and something of a potential crossroads for the broadcaster, her career, and Mr. Trump’s prospects in the Oval Office.
Speaking of the pressure she was under leading up to the broadcast, a Washington insider said, “Kaitlan has great talent, she should do a good job.”
On Wednesday night, Collins had the impossible task of defending himself against a tsunami of untruths while Mr Trump rolled over her fact checks and objections, refusing to answer some questions directly while the audience cheered and laughed with him.
In a particularly contentious moment about why he wouldn’t return classified material to the government, he called her a “bad person.”
Undeterred, she continued to press him on the matter and rounded off City Hall in a more questioning manner than she had started, asking about Mr Trump’s interference in the 2020 Georgia election and whether he would accept the result of the 2024 election would.
There have been previous moments of Twitter users howling at Collins’ lack of opposition, including a completely false statement by Trump about abortions at nine months of pregnancy or even postpartum.
Collins has had strong moments, once vigorously challenging Mr Trump: “The election was not rigged, Mr President. You can’t say that all night long.”
Much of the criticism centered less on Collins’ performance and more on the use of a format that made real-time fact-checking extremely difficult, and on the overly friendly audience. The general decision to give Mr Trump airtime to spread disinformation was the main cause of the anger.
It remains to be seen how or if Wednesday’s transfer will affect Collins professionally. Reporters who know her from her time in Washington tweeted her support and praised her journalism skills, and as Byers wrote, her prospects do not depend on her performance.
Justin Baragona of The daily beast reported that a CNN on-air personality told him: “It’s so bad. Despite the criticism, I was cautiously optimistic. It’s terrible. It’s a Trump commercial. We’re going to be smashed.”
Podcaster and author Wajahat Ali tweeted: “Kaitlan Collins was placed in an impossible situation by CNN leadership. She did well considering the circumstances. But doomed to fail. Shameful stuff from Licht and Zaslav.”
Earlier, in response to Mr Trump’s comment as a “bad person”, Ali wrote: “Congratulations Chris Licht and the leadership of CNN. Bravo. What a way to treat your employees.”
Matthew Gertz of Media Matters for America wrote: “The venue for CNN’s Trump Town Hall will be ‘filled with about 400 voters who are Republicans or Republican-leaning independents.’ I’ve never seen a broadcaster go to so much trouble to boo their own host live on their own airwaves.”