Donald Trump doesn’t have the cojones to conduct a sit-down interview with a real journalist who might have the experience and knowledge to challenge his statements that bear an increasingly distant relationship with reality.
Instead, he prefers to insult reporters and dismissively cut them off during combative White House press briefings and schedule full-length interviews only within the safe confines of the friendly right-wing extremist news networks, like Fox News and OAN.
The president granted his latest opportunity for an extended chat to the third member of the unholy trinity of conservative news outlets, Sinclair TV, appearing on Full Measure, the Sunday morning news showcase for the Sinclair station group and interviewed by five-time Emmy Award winner Sharyl Attkisson, lending an air of journalistic legitimacy to a media stop that was in reality merely unsullied campaign propaganda.
Trump was happy enough with his pretaped appearance on the program that he tweeted out a reminder to his followers to tune in, and predictably got the details of the network it would be appearing on wrong.
“Full Measure with Sheryl Attkisson” interview on @ABC at 10:00 A.M. Sunday. Enjoy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 24, 2020
Since Sinclair is a TV conglomerate that owns broadcast licenses in multiple cities and has affiliate deals with ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW, MyTV, Univision, and Telemundo, the program was actually broadcast on a different network depending on what city one lives in.
Trump used the unchallenging environs of an interview broadcast by right-wing allies to make a series of outrageous claims about the media, his opponents and disgraced former allies, and foreign affairs.
The always reliable Aaron Rupar of Vox was at the ready, excerpting choice clips from the conversation for the convenience of Twitter denizens.
Trump used the interview to push back against the credibility of one of the most respected Ivy League colleges in the nation because of their well-publicized study showing that had the president acted just a week quicker in ordering social distancing to be mandated, 30 thousand lives may have been saved instead of succumbing to the COVID-19 virus.
No doubt, the scars of not being accepted to Columbia University still sting deeply with the president, given the vehemence with which he attacks the institution as ‘liberal” — as if that was a pejorative for a university that values free thought — and “disgraceful.”
"Jeff Sessions was a disaster as Attorney General. He should've never been Attorney General, he's not qualified, he's not mentally qualified to be Attorney General" — wow, what idiot gave Sessions that job in the first place? pic.twitter.com/uNsLhvgpyv
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 24, 2020
Trump’s comment’s on his former Attorney General — and current candidate for the Republican nomination for his old Alabama Senate seat — Jeff Sessions echo the thoughts of any sane American about his own presidency.
Simply replace “Jeff Sessions” with “Donald Trump” and switch “Attorney General” with “President” and you’ll find a statement that’s incredibly difficult to disagree with.
Trump moved on to foreign policy next, with a barely credible and highly contradictory statement about his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Politically, Trump is trying to distance himself from the accusations of Russian interference in helping place him in office, but his own unassailable ego prevents him from imagining that Putin could conceivably not like and respect him, undermining his disclaimers.
TRUMP: "What am I doing? I'm fighting the deep state. I'm fighting the swamp. And I said I was doing it. And I'm exposing the swamp … if it keeps going the way it's going, I have a chance to break the deep state." pic.twitter.com/CCB041k5XO
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 24, 2020
Trump’s paranoia about the so-called “Deep State” allows him to leverage his own distaste for competent civil servants dedicated to the rule of law that he so blithely likes to ignore to feed into the conspiracy theories of his ill-informed base, who lap up his every lie and insinuation.
As the record of indictments, ethics charges and cabinet resignations during his administration demonstrates, Trump isn’t draining, fighting, or exposing “the swamp,” he’s foreclosing on it, claiming it as his own and expanding it for the benefit of himself and his cronies as he fires the independent inspectors general to replace them with his own loyalists who will sweep the scandals under the carpet and likely destroy the evidence to prevent future prosecutions.
All in all, Trump’s interview with Sharyl Attkisson on Full Measure was a productive piece of propaganda promulgation for the president.
As long as you don’t accept a word of what he says as remotely resembling reality, his appearance provides the proper insight into Trump’smedia manipulation techniques.
It would be nice to see the likes of Rachel Maddow or even Fox News’ Chris Wallace have an opportunity to grill this president and throw the actual facts back in his face without deference or compunction. That would be a rumble worthy of a WWE pay-per-view event!
Don’t expect anything like that to happen anytime soon. This president just doesn’t have the cojones to stand up to an interview that challenges him with facts.
Original reporting by Aaron Rupar at Vox.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.