Hostis Publicus

In A.D. 68, the Roman Senate declared Emperor Nero (SET ITAL) hostis publicus, (END ITAL) or a public enemy. People scraped Nero’s name off monuments, repainted his portraits into the likeness of others and otherwise attempted to delete him from history. We have more documentation of Jesus of Nazareth closer in time to his life than we have of Nero because the Romans attempted to delete Nero from history.

We got a taste of that Wednesday night on social media as progressives, including some in the press, reacted to CNN allowing former President Donald Trump on television for a town hall event. What Trump said was less important than the reaction to him.

Kaitlan Collins, who got her start at Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller as the website’s White House reporter, is now a CNN morning anchor, rumored to be taking over an evening slot on CNN. Ironically, Don Lemon had been in one of those evening slots till CNN put him in the mornings with Collins only for Lemon to self-immolate. Now Collins gets to go prime time, but first got a ritualistic hazing by moderating Trump’s town hall.

The exposure was a no-win situation for Collins. Without appropriate deference to Trump, she was always going to get vilified by Trump’s supporters and much of the Right. Just by being on the same stage as Trump and not shooting him, the Left was always going to excoriate her for “normalizing” him.

The beginning of the town hall had Trump, yet again, claiming the election was rigged. Collins flatly said it was not. The Left insists the former president be fact-checked and rebutted in real time, and even Collins’ rebuttals did not get her applause, but hate, from the Left for not being more combative.

Frankly, I think reporters make a mistake of engaging with Trump on the truth of the election, instead of the logic of the election. Instead of rebutting, why not ask, “Mr. Trump, if the election was stolen, as you have claimed, is that not partly your responsibility because you were the president and in command of the Department of Homeland Security, FBI and Department of Justice?”

“Mr. Trump, did you not put Christopher Wray in at the FBI and William Barr in as attorney general?” “Sir, your endorsed candidates lost in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Arizona. Many of those states were Republican and are now Democrat. If you couldn’t stop the steal in 2020 with Republicans in charge and you as president, how do you expect to stop it in 2024, particularly as you continue to reject early voting?”

Play the logic and get the facts. Play the facts and just get denials.

Again, what Trump said is far less important than the Left’s reaction. Even before the town hall, reporters and news outlets were attacking CNN for allowing a former president and current major party front-runner on their air. One might have thought Rupert Murdoch owned CNN the way progressives attacked. Allowing in an audience that cheered Trump; allowing Collins to not yell at Trump; and allowing Trump on television at all was just too much for the Left. To the Left, he is Nero and must be wiped from history. He is their existential threat, and they will do anything they can to stop him. They are in such uniform opposition to Trump that anyone who treats Trump as a relevant figure who should be listened to is also now a public enemy.

In the town hall, Trump said he was fine with the nation defaulting on its debts. One progressive lamented that would now allow space for such a conversation to happen. That would happen with or without Trump there. What the Left cannot fathom is a lot of people like Trump because as much as the Left hates him and his supporters, those supporters equally hate the Left. CNN has chosen to cover both sides. That should be applauded. If the left is so adamant Trump must be stopped, defeat him in an election; do not censor coverage of him. But people who think they control information will never not use their power to control it.

To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at