Three years after Donald Trump stampeded through the presidential primary on a wave of free media, Democrats still harbor fear that the news industry, and CNN in particular, hasn’t learned its lessons.
That criticism grew more pronounced last week after CNN announced it would hold a town hall with former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Schultz, unlike several elected Democratic officials, is undecided about running for president, has little evident support in public polls, and is attempting to promote his current book. But he has been awarded a platform that many actually announced candidates have yet to be given, leaving Democrats with the impression that a candidate’s celebrity is, once again, being prioritized over other campaign elements, including grassroots energy or small-dollar support.
“CNN is free to make their own editorial decisions in 2020, just as they made the editorial decision in 2016 to spend hours broadcasting Donald Trump’s empty podium,” an adviser to a 2020 candidate quipped, requesting to speak candidly on background to The Daily Beast.