At a sold-out, invitation-only event April 18 at the Newseum, CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker and a panel of the network’s top political team marked the opening of the Newseum’s new interactive exhibit, “CNN Politics Campaign 2016: Like, Share, Elect.” Chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper, senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson, senior digital correspondent Chris Moody, and director of social publishing Ashley Codianni weighed in on the current presidential campaign, what it’s been like to cover the candidates, and the increasing impact social media has on voter decisions.
Much of the conversation focused on the continued success of Republican candidate Donald Trump, particularly his use of social media and what some critics call his “over-coverage” by the mainstream media. (In the Newseum exhibit, a “command center” of real-time digital data shows that Trump generally leads the conversation online as well). Asked about Trump’s social media presence, especially on Twitter, Codianni said, “It’s certainly been unrestrained,” but went on to note that “just because you’re active on Twitter doesn’t necessarily mean you’re good at it.”
Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders is gaining traction in the social conversation, and Moody pointed out that Sanders and Trump represent similar ideas to frustrated voters on opposite political spectrums.
“Both of them represent a revolution, burning things down and rebuilding,” he said.
In response to an audience question, Henderson noted that while there’s a perception only “angry white men” back Trump, there’s more than enough anecdotal evidence that his support spans race, class, gender and other demographic categories.
All four panelists agreed on one hypothetical scenario: Should Hillary Clinton gain the Democratic nomination, she would likely have a harder time against Trump than his Republican rival, Ted Cruz.
“Trump is unpredictable,” Moody said. “He has played by his own rules and taken down every other candidate who has played by traditional rules.”
The panel of CNN colleagues had their fun on stage amid the serious talk: Tapper showed off what one tweeter called “a mean Bernie Sanders impression,” while Zucker took a moment to compliment Tapper’s socks. And when Codianni was asked about the influence of Snapchat in this year’s race, Tapper pointed out that she might need to actually explain what Snapchat is — which raised a knowing laugh from more than a few audience members.
“CNN Politics Campaign 2016: Like, Share, Elect” is on display at the Newseum through Jan. 22, 2017, the final day of next year’s Inauguration weekend celebration. Follow the conversation and share your thoughts on Twitter using #LikeShareElect.
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“CNN Politics Campaign 2016: Like, Share, Elect” is presented in partnership with CNN Politics, Facebook, Instagram, Pivit, Zignal Labs and FoxTales.