CNN's Laura Coates Draws High Praise for ‘Breathtaking’ Coverage of Trump Trial Fire


Shortly after it was announced that the entire jury had been empaneled in Donald Trump’s hush-money trial on Friday, CNN anchor Laura Coates was interviewing a legal expert about what the jurors could expect in the weekslong case.

Little did she know that moments later she would have to dramatically cut that conversation short in order to pivot to a man setting himself on fire outside the lower Manhattan courthouse where the ex-president’s trial is taking place.

Coates’ quick journalistic impulses and composure while live-reporting a self-immolation and the attempts of first responders to extinguish the flames has drawn widespread praise from journalists and media observers, including conservatives who typically have nothing but disdain for CNN.

Reporting outside the courthouse on Friday, Coates jumped right into action when she saw the flames across the street from the network’s camera setup. After first believing she was witnessing an active shooter, the primetime host and legal analyst soon grasped the shocking scene and began describing it in detail.

“We have a man who has set fire to himself, a man has emblazoned himself outside of the courthouse just now,” Coates declared. “Our cameras are turning, right now, a man has now lit himself on fire outside of the courthouse in Manhattan where we are waiting as history’s being made. A full jury panel has gone. We are watching a man who is fully emblazoned in the front of the courthouse today, we are watching multiple fires breaking out around his body and person.”

With the network’s cameras soon turning away from horror and turning to Coates and her colleague Evan Perez, she continued to explain the “chaos” taking place right in front of her.

“We have seen an arm that has been visible that has been engulfed in total flames,” she said at one point, adding: “People are climbing over barricades to try to separate the public to put out the flame on this man. He has lit himself on fire in front of the courthouse right now.”

Conveying the tragic nature of the shocking incident unfolding before her, Coates said she could “smell the burning of some sort of flesh, of some sort of agent to put out that fire.” She also noted that the “fire is still burning” as law enforcement continued to try to save the man’s life.

“I cannot overstate the emotional response of watching a human being engulfed in flames… what an emotional and unbelievably disturbing moment here in Manhattan,” Coates said after the fire was extinguished and the man, identified as 37-year-old Max Azzarello, was loaded into an ambulance.

Coates’ ability to both convey the horrors of the self-immolation and still deliver a detailed report on live TV was universally lauded online, with many calling on her to receive an Emmy for her coverage.

“Laura Coates. A textbook illustration of see it, say it. The urgency that captures the severity of the moment,” FOX 25 Houston anchor Anthony Antoine tweeted. “That’s how it’s done.”

Calling the CNN coverage “unreal,” sportscaster Chris Williamson added that the “play by play delivery of the chaos from Laura Coates is breathtaking.”

Several other journalists described Coates’ reporting as a “masterclass,” with podcaster Adeea Rogers asserting that her handling of the situation “is the difference between true and actual journalism and just being a media personality.”

The Root’s Shanelle Genai, meanwhile, called on CNN to “give Laura Coates a RAISE NOW” since her “demeanor, her play-by-play, her senses” was “on READY and ON GO.”

Natasha S. Alford of The Grio described the CNN star as “INCREDIBLE” while commending her “total focus and calm in the face of a horrific scene.”

Others also observed that Coates “did exactly what a journalist is supposed to do in a crisis” and “reported what she saw and experienced in real-time without projecting emotion,” claiming it “is hitting some people strangely because we’re not used to seeing it.”

Even some in the MAGA mediasphere had to give Coates her props.

“JUST IN: CNN anchor Laura Coates does a phenomenal job of providing ‘play-by-play’ coverage as a man sets himself on fire outside of Trump’s trial in New York City,” right-wing influencer Colin Rugg posted on X.

Within an hour of delivering a play-by-play of a man setting himself on fire, meanwhile, Coates had put back on her legal analysis cap and was talking about the next steps in the Trump hush-money case.

As for the self-immolator who caused the chaotic scene, Azzarello appears to have set himself on fire as some sort of warning against an “apocalyptic fascist world coup.” An unhinged online manifesto attributed to Azzarello claims he lit himself up as an “extreme act of protest” and to “draw attention to an urgent and important discovery.”

The document, however, is a confused rant about cryptocurrency, global government and New York University, with Azzarello telling readers they are victims of a Ponzi scheme and a “totalitarian con.” Just before setting himself ablaze, Azzarello handed out pamphlets touching on these themes, including saying “NYU is a mob front.”

As of publication, Azzarello was still alive but in extremely critical condition.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.