Former U.S. Capitol Officer, Now CNN Analyst, Rips Network for Hosting Trump Town Hall: ‘It’s About Ratings and Money’

Michael Fanone was dragged down the stairs and tased by the Jan. 6 mob

Michael Fanone and Donald Trump (Getty Images)
Michael Fanone and Donald Trump (Getty Images)

Michael Fanone, one of the police officers who rioters attacked on Jan. 6, 2021, is calling out CNN for hosting a town hall event Wednesday for former President Donald Trump. 

In a nearly 1,200-word op-ed, Fanone — a former U.S. Capitol officer and now CNN analyst — slammed the news outlet for giving Trump a platform even in the midst of Trump facing indictment for his connection to the Jan. 6 riots. Fanone was injured  by the mob during the attack.

“I woke up last week to a text from my mother,” Fanone wrote in the op-ed for Rolling Stone, which was published earlier Wednesday. “Its contents hit me like a sucker punch. “CNN is hosting a town hall with Trump; Kaitlin Collins is moderating. WTF!!!”

For Fanone the issue is personal. Not only was Fanone one of the authorities who tried to protect the U.S. Capitol, but Trump is accused of inciting the violence that took place at the U.S. Capitol and has been attached as the person who fueled rioters’ mission. 

On the same day as the attack, Trump supporters gathered at a “Save America” rally that was put together to challenge the transfer of power to President Joe Biden after he won the 2020 Presidential Election. During the event, Trump encouraged them to take a stand against Congress, where politicians were certifying Biden’s success. The attack happened just moments after Trump received applause from supporters for his speech. Trump claimed that the election was rigged in Biden’s favor.

“Those lies persuaded thousands of his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, violently attacking uniformed police officers and terrorizing members of Congress and their staff,” Fanone went on, sharing how he had a “first-hand” experience with the mob. “As a result of my efforts that day I was severely beaten, struck numerous times with a taser, and suffered a heart attack as well as a traumatic brain injury. One police officer died, and several others took their own lives in the wake of that barbaric day.”

Fanone’s article comes after CNN announced its town hall event featuring Trump, who is the leading contestant in the 2024 GOP presidential primary arena. During the town hall, Trump was set to take questions and was likely to provide attendees with commentary related to his presidential run. To Fanone, he feels giving Trump a national stage “like a normal candidate who didn’t get people killed in the process of trying to end the democracy he’s attempting to once again run” would only normalize Trump’s behavior and actions for American citizens and politicians. 

“It is not just that Trump’s lies and political rhetoric sparked an uprising at our nation’s Capitol. Trump, as U.S. president, lied in an effort to defraud the American people and overturn a free and fair election in an attempt to remain in power,” Fanone wrote. “In doing so he betrayed every aspect of his oath to represent us as Americans. We no longer need to imagine what Trump is capable of. He has shown us that he is an authoritarian who will use any means at his disposal, including violence, to remain in power.”

Fanone went on to point out CNN and its new executives’ decision. CNN’s previous CEO Jeff Zucker was replaced by Chris Licht in 2022. Since his installment, the network has gone through a slew of internal reworking, including the firing of longtime anchor Don Lemon. 

“In the past, CNN has recognized the dangers of allowing election deniers a public platform and would not allow them on-air. Under new ‘leadership,’ that policy has been discarded as evidenced by CNN’s decision to allow the chief election denier, former President Donald J. Trump, a prominent time slot in its evening lineup,” Fanone wrote.

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav took the side of CNN — which lives under the Warner Bros. Discovery’s company banner — saying its decision to host Trump was made to serve impartiality.

“The U.S. has a divided government. We need to hear both voices,” Zaslav said to CNBC’s “Squawk Box” while discussing the move to host the event featuring Trump.“Republicans are on the air on CNN, Democrats are on the air… When we do politics, we need to represent both sides. I think it’s important for America.”

However, Fanone questioned the news platform integrity, saying their decision was
“about ratings and money.”

“I’ve heard the network’s attempts to justify this clear reversal,” Fanone wrote. “The ‘He’s the frontrunner in the Republican primary’ argument. Somehow the network’s ‘ethical’ responsibility changed from preventing election deniers a platform regardless of the topic, to giving those same individuals a huge platform to disseminate their lies. I don’t believe for one second that this is about journalistic integrity.”

The town aired Wednesday at 5 p.m. PT.