Tara Palmeri/Puck with GOP political consultant Matthew Bartlett:

What was your takeaway from the whole debate?

There were plenty of people in that room that were ardent supporters of President Trump, and no matter what he said, they were ready to jump out of their seats and applaud. But there were also people that sat there quietly disgusted or bewildered. In a TV setting, you hear the applause, but you don’t see the disgust. So Trump did not have the entire room on his side, make no mistake, even if it certainly came across that way on TV.

When I turned on my phone after the event, the text messages came flying in. You saw the coverage afterwards. People thought it was more of a rally than a town hall—maybe at one point even a debate between Kaitlan Collins and Donald Trump. But in that room, I remember walking out and people in the front row were like, He’s talking some crazy stuff, and I think a lot of these lawsuits are adding up. There was heavy skepticism. He kind of lost the audience at some point when he was rambling about January 6th and the back and forth around the tweets. And then there were some people that were like, This is vintage Trump. I’m so happy to see him stick it to CNN right in their face. So it was a mix.

Unfortunately, I think that when people hear applause on TV, they just assume that the entire room was on his side, but that just wasn’t the case. I saw Joe Scarborough today make some comments about the room; there were people in that room that were like Joe Scarborough—that are ardent Republicans who really have broken away from the party because of Trump. So that was present. You just may not have heard it.


Oliver Darcy/CNN:

  • The town hall drove the news cycle on Thursday. “Last night provided a clearer view of where Trump stands on the key issues that America is grappling with right now,” Kaitlan Collins said on Thursday night.
  • Several Republican senators pushed back against Trump’s remarks. (CNN)
  • And E. Jean Carroll threatened to sue Trump again after the disparaging remarks he made about her. (NYT)
  • The town hall drew 3.3 million viewers, “making CNN the most-watched cable news network of the evening,” Sara Fischer reports. (Axios)
  • “But network executives faced a tsunami of criticism for giving the Republican candidate a platform to spread lies,” Stephen Battaglio reports. (LAT)
  • “Inside CNN, the mood was dark”: Paul Farhi and Jeremy Barr report on the internal anger over the event, with one network staffer telling the duo, “I’ve been a CNN journalist for many years. I’ve always been so proud to say that. I’ve never, ever been ashamed of CNN until tonight.” (WaPo)
  • “The ordeal also further damaged the CNN CEO’s standing among rank-and-file at the network,” Max Tani reports. (Semafor)
  • Politico Playbook: “ABOUT LAST NIGHT — To call it a s**tshow would be generous.” (POLITICO)
  • Matt Drudge’s take: “CNN OUTFOXES FOX!” (DRUDGE)
  • “Well, that was a disaster, a politically historic one,” Peggy Noonan writes. “It situated Donald Trump as the central figure of the 2024 presidential cycle … It will have an impact on the campaign’s trajectory. When it was over I thought, of CNN: Once again they’ve made Trump real.” (WSJ)

Jay Rosen /MSNBC on the CNN debacle:

New York Times:

Vulnerable Republicans Caught in the Middle in Debt Limit Fight

House G.O.P. lawmakers in competitive seats who could be crucial to averting a catastrophic default are being fawned over by Democrats one minute and pummeled the next.

The shout-out — and Mr. Lawler’s decision to attend the event in the first place — underscored the unusual dance playing out just weeks before the nation is at risk of defaulting on its obligations for the first time, with the economy hanging in the balance. White House officials simultaneously are hoping to rally a bloc of moderate Republicans to vote with Democrats to raise the limit — while also gaining a political advantage for the 2024 election by painting them as extremists.

That messaging has infuriated some Biden-district Republicans.

Everything infuriates Republicans. You can’t base your life on avoiding it.


Steve Benen/NBC:

To see debt ceiling crises as normal is to miss modern history

It’s imperative that observers stop seeing the Republicans’ debt ceiling crises as normal and start seeing them as scandalous.

To be sure, I can think of a great many instances in which I’ve made a comment on the air that I wish I’d worded better, and my point is not to slam the host or the guest, who might’ve used different phrasing if given a second chance at it. But the broader point is worth understanding in more detail.

First, when Kernen rejected the idea that the debt ceiling was addressed “cleanly” three times under Trump, I suppose there might be some debate over the meaning of the word “clean.” In 2017, 2018, and 2019, Congress approved debt ceiling increases by simply attaching the increases to other bills — a standard move lawmakers have employed for generations.

By most measures, I think this process can fairly be described as “clean”: There were no threats, no hostage tactics, and no demands for ransoms. Congress didn’t add any conditions to the process. Lawmakers did seek or receive any rewards or concessions. The debt limit wasn’t raised by way of stand-alone bills, but there also weren’t any hints of crises — because there were no demands or meaningful strings attached.

Shawn McCreesh/New York magazine:

When Fox News Turns On Its Own

Tucker Carlson’s allies can’t believe this is happening to them.

A fog of war has descended over Fox News and the star it nurtured, then spit out. He’s hunkered down with his producer Justin Wells, who was dismissed the same day as Carlson, April 24. Last week, the pair persuaded two more Fox colleagues to come help them do … whatever it is they are now doing.

Meanwhile, back on the 20th floor of Fox’s midtown headquarters, the many young people who worked for Carlson and Wells must now fend for themselves. “There are lots of tears and fears on the team right now,” says one. “We feel like we’re out there by ourselves, just trying to survive really.” No one at Fox has explained to them why their bosses were actually pushed.

Lacking information, they’ve all become a bit paranoid. Who’s pulling the strings here? Who has been un-redacting Carlson’s creepy text messages for the Daily Beast and the New York Times? How does Fox’s nemesis, the left-wing watchdog Media Matters for America, keep obtaining hot-mic clips from their show? Could it all be part of some plan hatched from within Fox to smear Carlson and kick him while he’s down?


Amanda Carpenter/The Bulwark:

CNN’s Trump Town Hall: All Spectacle, No Sunlight

It’s 2016 all over again.

CNN gifted a twice-impeached former president who incited a riot at the U.S. Capitol a primetime media event. Moderator Kaitlan Collins did an impressive job, but the horror is in the set-up. The event’s audience was stacked with Republican primary voters already inclined to support him, as evidenced by the fact that they repeatedly clapped, laughed, and cheered for him while he reaffirmed his most outrageous lies. None of this was urgent, even from a political perspective. The first primary is seven months away.

Susan Rinkunas/Jezebel:

Ohio Is Spending $20 Million to Thwart a Statewide Vote on Abortion

Protesters flooded the Statehouse rotunda as Republicans moved to make it harder for an abortion rights ballot measure to pass in November.

Abortion rights supporters in Ohio need to collect 413,000 signatures by July 5 to put their measure codifying abortion access in the state constitution on the November ballot. (The initiative would also enshrine the right to make decisions about contraception, fertility treatment, and miscarriage care.) But on Wednesday, Republicans passed a resolution to hold an August special election on whether to make it harder to amend the state constitution.

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