The 2020 presidential election is still more than a year away, but that hasn’t kept ratings-starved CNN from announcing that, for some reason, they will hold yet another town hall marathon, set for mid-October in Los Angeles to focusing on what CNN Tonight host Don Lemon said would be “on issues that are important to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community.”
According to an article posted on Thursday by CNN senior political analyst Mark Preston (click “expand”):
CNN is partnering with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation for our next series of presidential town halls on issues that are important to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
[T]he October 10 prime time event, airing live on the eve of National Coming Out Day, will feature the largest-ever audience for a Democratic presidential town hall devoted to LGBTQ issues.
Invitations to participate in the town hall will be extended to Democratic presidential hopefuls who meet the DNC's qualifications for the October 2019 primary debates. Candidates must reach 2% in at least four national polls identified by the DNC to determine eligibility. The polls for this town hall must be released between June 28, 2019 and September 25, 2019.
In addition, candidates must also meet the donor threshold outlined by the DNC for the October debate, in which they must have 130,000 unique donors, including 400 donors each from at least 20 states.
So far, former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren have accepted HRC's invitation to participate in the event.
In a hilarious turn, an HRC Foundation spokesperson stated that “the audience will be comprised of invited guests, LGBTQ stakeholders and members of civic organizations. No public tickets will be available.” So much for openness!
The Jeffrey Zucker-led network somehow believed this was a brilliant move despite the fact that not only was their town hall debate received as an in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign, but tanked in the ratings department. Here's FoxNews.com's Brian Flood with more (click “expand”):
CNN's marathon town hall on climate change failed to lift the struggling network out of third place in the ratings department on Thursday night.
The heavily promoted, seven-hour event ran from 5 p.m. EST until midnight and featured 10 Democratic presidential hopefuls discussing their plans to combat climate change. CNN averaged 1.1 million viewers during the event, compared to 1.7 million for liberal rival MSNBC while Fox News averaged 2.5 million viewers over the same time period with regular programming.
CNN also finished last during the primetime hours of 8-11 p.m. EST. Fox News averaged 3.2 million viewers, followed by MSNBC’s average of 2.2 million while CNN settled for an average audience of 1.4 million primetime viewers.
In case the candidates might accidentally get a difficult questlon, they will only take queries "from the audience and CNN journalists on specific LGBTQ concerns, as well as their plans to promote equality and civility,” Preston noted.
“This town hall comes at a critical time in our fight to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in this nation," stated Alphonso David, who was recently named president of the HRC organization.
David claimed that “in 30 states, LGBTQ people remain at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services because of who we are.”
Also, “35 states have yet to ban the dangerous and debunked practice of 'conversion therapy,' which is harming our young people.”
David next claimed:
Although the federal government should be protecting all residents, the Trump-Pence Administration is directly attacking our community by banning transgender troops from serving our country openly.
[The government] is undermining health-care services for people living with HIV and seeking to erase LGBTQ people from protections under law.
Preston also referred to a Gallup poll conducted in May that showed 53 percent of Americans believe new laws are needed to protect the LGBTQ community's civil rights, while 46 percent do not. Those numbers have stayed steady since the Gallup last asked the question in 2017.
Of course, the HRC describes the occasion as “a way of celebrating the power of coming out and promoting a safe world for LGBTQ individuals to live truthfully and openly.”
But writing over at the Washington Examiner, our friend Brad Polumbo wrote that, as a gay man himself, he's not looking forward to this at all, seeing as how “[t]his announcement made me roll my eyes, and frankly, left me a bit nauseous” since “[t]he last thing we need is a 7-hour pander-fest sponsored by a partisan group, chock full of virtue-signaling and utterly devoid of any meaningful debate.”
As for the description of what the town halls will cover, Polumbo pointed out that, like any group, the gay community isn't monolithic:
And the very premise of this debate, Lemon's assertion that it will “focus on issues important to LGBTQ people,” is condescending and reductive. It implies that gay and transgender people have identical priorities, or that all gay and all transgender people think alike, when in reality they have a wide variety of political beliefs and priorities. Gay people are not single-issue voters, and frankly, many of us couldn't be less interested in CNN's pandering.
If CNN was interested in a meaningful discussion on these issues, they’d host an event featuring Republicans and Democrats, or left-wing HRC activists and members of conservative groups. Apparently, ratings and a partisan dunk-fest are more important to the network than hosting an actually interesting debate.