Cooper discussed the challenges of covering a Trump in an interview with the NYT.
He said there was a "steep learning curve in figuring out how to deal with a candidate who is completely willing to lie."
Cooper also defended CNN's town hall with Trump, calling him a "front-runner" in the Republican presidential primary.
As we head into the 2024 election, journalists are once again talking about how to cover former President Donald Trump — one of the most controversial figures on the campaign trail.
"There was a steep learning curve in figuring out how to deal with a candidate who is completely willing to lie and lies repeatedly and often," Cooper told the NYT.
He added, "There's a shamelessness in that and only so much you can do about it from a reporting standpoint."
In May, CNN held a town hall with Trump that drew in over 3.3 million people. The former president's performance, which was filled with a litany of half-truths and full-out lies, horrified CNN's own staffers. The network fielded criticism for giving Trump too much air time, and CNN's CEO, Chris Licht, was fired in June, just a month later.
Cooper, however, still stands by CNN's decision. "I defended the concept of hearing from the person who's the front-runner in the Republican Party. I still believe that person can be challenged in an interview," he told the NYT. According to FiveThirtyEight's polling averages, Trump is handily leading national polls for the GOP presidential primary next year.
Cooper also suggested that he didn't have a particularly strong relationship with Licht, saying "I don't have much confidence that I actually know what he was thinking."
Aside from the challenges posed by Trump, Cooper also reflected on broader developments in the media landscape. While we're in a moment in which partisan content has become increasingly popular — and profitable — Cooper doesn't necessarily see earlier years as a model for the industry.
"It's also easy to look back at Cronkite and Eric Sevareid — people will say, "This golden age when you could trust those people," he told the NYT. "But the newsrooms were all white and straight, and the subjects covered were very limited. It is easy to look at another time and think it was so much better."
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