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CNN Says Future Town Halls Will Include Live Audiences, Contrary to Online Posts

Quick Take

CNN was criticized by some for hosting a town hall with Donald Trump and a live audience that expressed strong support for the former president. Online posts now wrongly claim CNN will have “no more live audiences at town halls.” CNN said the claim is “fabricated” and plans a live audience at a town hall with Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley in June.

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CNN hosted a live town hall with former President Donald Trump in New Hampshire on May 10, the cable network’s first televised town hall for a 2024 presidential candidate.  

Critics of the town hall say CNN allowed Trump to make too many false and misleading claims without enough correction. CNN also faced backlash for how the audience behaved during the broadcast. 

The audience — made up of Republicans and undeclared voters expected to vote in the New Hampshire Republican primary — gave Trump a standing ovation when he appeared on stage and cheered during his repetition of false claims. 

Following the backlash, social media posts began to spread the false claim that CNN said it won’t have live audiences at future town halls.

“CNN just announced there will be no more live audiences at town halls. So how is it a town hall with no audience? Trump broke CNN,” said a tweet shared on May 11. 

“CNN announces there will be no more live audiences at their town halls….so I guess they decided that they can’t have their sheep cheering for what Trump says, and also, isn’t a live audience the definition of a town hall,” a post on Facebook said.

“CNN announces today there will be no more live audiences at town halls. The [orange emoji] Man broke CNN,” said another Facebook post. 

But the claim is not true.

Responding to the social media posts, CNN spokesperson Sydney Baldwin told USA Today, “This is completely fabricated.”

CNN has announced it will host the next town hall in front of a live audience in Iowa on June 4 with former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who is also seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. 

The audience will be made up of “Iowa Republicans and Iowa voters, who say they will pre-register to participate in the Republican caucuses by the deadline set by the Republican Party of Iowa; and pledge to appear in person at the caucuses,” according to CNN.  

At a CNN meeting on May 11, the station’s CEO, Chris Licht, said that he stands by the decision to have Trump’s town hall in front of a crowd that favored the former president, the Association Press reported.

“While we all may have been uncomfortable hearing people clapping, that was also an important part of the story, because the people in that audience represent a large swath of America,” Licht said.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.


READ: Transcript of CNN’s town hall with former President Donald Trump.” CNN. 11 May 2023. 

CNN Republican Town Hall with Donald Trump.” CNN Audio. 11 May 2023. 

Bauder, David and Alexandra Olson. “CNN’s town hall quickly turned chaotic, displaying the tightrope facing journalists covering Trump.” Associated Press. 11 May 2023.  

Farley, Robert, et al. “FactChecking Trump’s CNN Town Hall.” FactCheck.org. 11 May 2023. 

Darcy, Oliver. “Analysis: CNN faces harsh criticism after Trump unleashed a firehose of lies during its live town hall.” CNN. 11 May 2023. 

CNN to Host Republican Presidential Town Hall with former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.” CNN. 24 May 2023. 

Frank, BrieAnna. “No audience change announced for CNN town halls after Trump event | Fact check.” USA Today. 17 May 2023.