“It’s not a matter of high stakes. It’s a matter of high drama. So, Trump is smart. I mean, he’s going to get a big audience. CNN will quadruple its usual delivery,” O’Reilly told “On Balance” host Leland Vittert.
Trump is expected to join CNN’s live town hall forum Wednesday at St. Anselm’s College in Goffstown, New Hampshire. This will mark Trump’s first town hall-style event since launching his 2024 campaign.
Kaitlan Collins will moderate as the former president takes questions from voters planning to participate in the 2024 GOP primary.
“Trump gets to say what he wants because the audience in the town hall are Republicans or those leaning to the right. So, he’s got no threat,” O’Reilly said.
The town hall seems to be rare for both Trump and CNN, who have famously feuded in the past.
CNN is trying to move past the era of former leader Jeff Zucker as their ratings have plummeted. According to Nielsen data, CNN ratings have fallen from 2.5 million nightly primetime viewers in 2021 to 568,000 nightly primetime viewers in March of this year.
“Jeff Zucker ruined the network, there’s no doubt he did. I mean, there’s only so much ‘hate Trump’ stuff you can do and then when Trump disappears, who are you going to hate,” O’Reilly said. “So, Zucker got axed and now they’re trying to rebuild it. CNN is smart going this way.”
O’Reilly says the potential verdict in a rape case Trump faces could put CNN in a difficult position, but he doesn’t expect it to sway Trump supporters.
“This civil case in New York City against Trump by E. Jean Carroll could be in play, because closing arguments were today. The verdict could come in tomorrow or Wednesday. That puts CNN in very difficult position,” O’Reilly said, later adding: “The Trump people don’t care.”
Still, O’Reilly believes the verdict could set a tone for the town hall where Trump could “be on the defensive.”
“No one knows how he’ll react,” O’Reilly continued.
The town hall is scheduled to air at 8 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday.