Dana Loesch described on The Federalist Radio Hour podcast what happened behind the scenes of Wednesday’s CNN’s televised town hall event titled, “Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action.” Loesch, representing the National Rifle Association as their national spokesperson, said she wasn’t informed until hours before of the event’s format or that students would be asking questions.
“I had nothing in advance. I didn’t know how the setup was going to be. I didn’t know it was going to be in a giant arena where it was 360 all the way around. I had no clue,” she said. “But I wanted to go and represent the people that I was representing, and also because I’m a parent too…I have kids and my oldest child is just a couple of years younger than these students.”
The audience had already filled the arena and the event had started two hours before the cameras were even turned on, Loesch said.
They had music that was playing. They had montages that they were flashing across the screen. They had a number of speakers from the school and from the community. They had the sheriff go up and speak. He mentioned special interest groups, referring to the membership of the NRA.
Then they brought the politicians out…and that was the first hour. After all of this was already happening, after emotions were already running high, and after CNN put everyone together and cranked up, really trying to wind people up even more.
I had no questions in advance. It was even weird the way they had us walk out because it was like entering like you were a boxer or like WWE. You were walking up to the stage and they had music playing. You had to walk in aisles with all these people screaming and you had to walk toward the stage. That’s how you entered.
As Loesch and her security detail walked toward the stage, audience members shouted at her phrases like, “murderer,” “child killer,” and “burn her.” Jake Tapper, CNN’s chief washington correspondent and anchor of “The Lead,” was the event moderator.
“I know Jake, and it might strike a nerve, me saying this, but I think he lost control,” Loesch said.
I don’t know if he lost control or if that was CNN’s intention, because [CNN President] Jeff Zucker was there. When we were backstage getting ready to go out, Jeff Zucker came in. He doesn’t just show up for nothing. This is not a day at the ballpark. It was weird.
There was no control. It just went on forever and ever. At some point, you’re just desensitized, because where is the moderation? This is where a moderator drives this. You’re a moderator, you have to make sure people are being heard and it’s not just people standing up and giving speeches and screaming at somebody.
Loesch said she felt like she was walking into a setup after hearing several students address questions to her before she was even on stage. When a student asked Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson a question that was intended for Loesch, Tapper immediately jumped in, exposing the event’s script had gone awry.
“Senator Nelson, you don’t have to answer that question,” Tapper said. “Let’s move on to the next question.”
Loesch said she had hoped to have a conversation about solution and proposals.
“I’m never opposed to talking about firearms or firearms law, no matter when a tragedy occurs…but it just seems to be the wrong formula for a genuine discussion,” she said. “I’m not going to back down. I love children and I want to protect them, which is why I want to make sure that they have the same protection that those politicians have on stage. That’s why.”