Greta Thunberg: CNN’s Coronavirus Global Town Hall Panelist Stirs Controversy

Greta Thunberg CNN town hall

Getty Swedish climate and environmental activist Greta Thunberg is seen in a video conversation on April 22, 2020.

CNN announced on Wednesday that activist Greta Thunberg will participate in the network’s Global Town Hall: Coronavirus Facts and Fears special on Thursday night. However, news that the 17-year-old will join hosts Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta to discuss COVID-19 caused mixed reactions on Twitter.

Thunberg, a climate change activist from Sweden who was named TIME magazine’s Person of the Year over fellow nominee President Donald Trump, is listed as CNN’s “special guest” alongside former acting director of the CDC Richard Besser and former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

CNN did not announce specifics about what the Global Town Hall will cover on Thursday night. The special is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on May 14.

CNN’s announcement caused Thunberg’s name to become a top trend on Twitter, which is not a new situation for the environmental activist. After she was nominated as TIME’s Person of the Year, Trump expressed his disappointment about the then 16-year-old on Twitter.

“So ridiculous,” Trump tweeted. “Greta must work on her Anger Management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”

Thunberg swiftly responded to Trump on Twitter by changing her profile to read: “A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.”

Former First lady Michelle Obama came to Thunberg’s defense. She tweeted, “.@GretaThunberg, don’t let anyone dim your light. Like the girls I’ve met in Vietnam and all over the world, you have so much to offer us all. Ignore the doubters and know that millions of people are cheering you on.”

CNN Including Thunberg in the Town Hall Caused a Stir on Twitter

A LIVE CNN GLOBAL TOWN HALL: CORONAVIRUS: FACTS AND FEARSJoin Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta for a CNN Global Town Hall with special guests Richard Besser, Kathleen Sebelius and Greta Thunberg airing Thursday at 8:00 ET | 5:00 PT.2020-05-13T10:50:58Z

CNN has promoted Thunberg as a “special guest” at its Global Town Hall rather than an expert, but the decision to include her caused a stir on Twitter. Right-wing political pundit Ben Shapiro panned the idea of having Thunberg speak on the topic of coronavirus. He tweeted, “Is there anyone at CNN with any level of self-awareness? Featuring Greta Thunberg on a COVID-19 expert panel is just beyond words. I actually cannot believe they are this insane/stupid.”

After naming her TIME’s Person of the Year, that magazine’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal wrote that Thunberg “has become the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet—and the avatar of a broader generational shift in our culture that is playing out everywhere from the campuses of Hong Kong to the halls of Congress in Washington.”

Reactions on Twitter were mixed:

Thunberg Is Working With UNICEF & Human Act to Protect Childen’s Welfare During Coronavirus

Greta Thunberg

Getty Thunberg off the coast of southwest England, on August 14, 2019.

On May 2, the activist took the $100,000 prize money she received from Human Act, a worldwide development organization, and donated it to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). In response, Human Act matched her donation in order to kick start a campaign safeguarding children’s rights amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m asking everyone to step up and join me in support of UNICEF’s vital work to save children’s lives, to protect health and continue education,” Thunberg said. “Like the climate crisis, the coronavirus pandemic is a child-rights crisis. It will affect all children, now and in the long-term, but vulnerable groups will be impacted the most.”

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