CNN came under criticism from the right and the left for the questions posed to Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenCast of ‘Parks and Rec’ reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response Biden tells CNN town hall that he has benefited from white privilege MORE at a town hall Thursday night, with many arguing he wasn’t challenged in the same way President TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president’s policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is ‘unwise’ Cast of ‘Parks and Rec’ reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response MORE was at a similar event this week hosted by ABC News.
The “drive-in town hall” event, which took place just outside Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Pa., was moderated by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper.
To kick off questions, Cooper said: “Mr. vice president, President Trump has said that he downplayed the coronavirus because he didn’t want to cause panic. If you were president, could you see a scenario where you downplayed critical information so as not to cause panic?”
At another point, Cooper asked: “Mr. vice president, Bob Woodward asked President Trump about white privilege and whether or not he benefited from it. And the president said, ‘No, I don’t feel that way at all’ and sort of mocked Bob Woodward. Do you see ways you have benefited from white privilege?”
If ABC’s event with President Trump was an icy grilling, CNN’s drive-in conversation with Joe Biden yesterday was more like an affable reunion of old acquaintances. ICYMI, here’s a look at the key moments from last night’s town hall https://t.co/pilylarwYD pic.twitter.com/JHpM8w7psu
— POLITICO (@politico) September 18, 2020
When Politico accuses CNN of a softball Interview, you know there’s a problem.
This man might become POTUS, yet still, too many reporters think their role is to help make that happen instead of asking hard Qs.
The media is broken. https://t.co/VOUUJ0KR8D
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) September 18, 2020
You again really see the @JamesFallows Why Americans Hate The Media dynamic on display at this Biden town hall.
Pro journalist wants Biden to respond to something weird the Attorney General said.
Citizen questioner wants Biden to explain his health care plan.
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) September 18, 2020
Biden is doing very well, yes. But this is not exactly getting him ready to face tough questions from a Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceCNN to host first ‘drive-in town hall’ with Biden on Thursday The Memo: Warning signs flash for Trump on debates Sunny Hostin slams ‘misogynistic, racist, homophobic’ Joe Rogan after his offer to moderate debate MORE or Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperBiden’s team says he views election against Trump as ‘Park Avenue vs. Scranton’ The spin on Woodward’s tapes reveals the hypocrisy of Democrats Trump campaign defends first all-indoor rally in months MORE (should he decide to do so).
— Jeff Greenfield (@greenfield64) September 18, 2020
So far the questions at CNN’s drive-in #BidenTownHall sound as if they were written by Biden’s campaign: “Tell us how bad Trump is”. Reversal of the president’s ABC townhall
— Miranda Devine (@mirandadevine) September 18, 2020
President Trump also mocked CNN, a network he has consistently criticized.
“He’s up there tonight getting softball questions from Anderson Cooper. They don’t ask me questions like that,” Trump told his supporters at a Wisconsin rally that was being held at the same time as the Biden event.
Even the audience portion of the town hall drew criticism. Of the 16 questions asked by audience members, only three were from Republicans, with the rest coming from Democrats.
TV ratings for Thursday night’s town hall will be available Friday afternoon.
Biden and Trump are set to square off for the first presidential debate on Sept. 29 in Cleveland, where Fox News anchor Chris Wallace will serve as moderator.