CNN anchor Chris Cuomo compared the National Rifle Association to "big tobacco" and called their advertisements "propaganda" at the start of a CNN town hall on gun violence in the United States on Wednesday.
"We also invited the National Rifle Association, the NRA, to be a part of tonight's conversation. They declined. They sent a totally disingenuous statement that they're open to honest discussion, but not this spectacle. That's what you call this, a spectacle? I guess they want to do their talking with propaganda ads and millions in lobbying. Besides, let's be honest, the gun lobby is not going to be the answer, and that shouldn't be expected any more than we expected big tobacco to help us expose the ills of smoking. The reality is, people like you are the answer, and there can be no sides when it comes to wanting to be safer, better protected," Cuomo said.
CNN hosted a similar town hall after the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February 2018.
During the town hall, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch was heckled and called a "monster," even as she said the Parkland shooter should never have been able to access a firearm. In an interview with the Free Beacon ahead of Wednesday night's town hall, Loesch said she was "not optimistic" the network would be able to facilitate a "good-faith discussion" about gun rights and mass shootings.
Loesch has complained the 2018 townhall reflected a "WWE event," after the stadium filled crowd booed her and Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) for opposing a ban on all semi-automatic rifles.
CNN's Wednesday's town hall was held in the wake of this past weekend's shootings in El Paso and Dayton.