A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
Access is great, but…
President Trump is opening up to the press again, holding lots of Q&A’s, giving lots of interviews! It’s a good thing, right? Yes, in some ways, but there’s a downside.
Access IS valuable. But Trump distorts the truth so often that he cheapens the interview format, the Q&A format, etc. As I said on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources,” I wish this weren’t the case… I wish the fact-checkers could take a day off… but just look at his USA Today op-ed the other day. Or his most recent rally. The more he talks, the more misinformation he spreads.
Lemme put it another way: If Trump was more careful and made fewer mistakes, then access to him would be more valuable, because more people would trust him and his words would carry more weight.
Still, having his lies on the record is valuable, because journalists can dissect and debunk ‘em. Even better: When skilled interviewers can take apart his talking points in real time. Enter Lesley Stahl…
Trump on “60”
During the broadcast, these two tweets appeared in my Twitter timeline back to back:
Laura McGann: “Lesley Stahl is on fire.” Colby Hall: “Stahl is getting steam rolled.”
So what’d you think of Sunday night’s interview? There are a wide range of opinions out there. Here are Variety and THR’s insta-reviews. Stahl said afterward, “He enjoyed the sparring. He said so. And I could tell he enjoyed it.”
“Who says that?”
I appreciated Stahl’s very first question in the segment, “Do you still think that climate change is a hoax?” Trump hasn’t been asked about this issue enough. His answer showed just how uninformed he is.
“I think SOMETHING’S happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again. I don’t think it’s a hoax, I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s manmade…”
She let him go on, then said “I wish you could go to Greenland, watch these huge chunks of ice just falling into the ocean, raising the sea levels.” He interjected with the we-don’t-know argument again. Reminder: His own government says most of the current warming trend “is extremely likely” to be the result of human activity.
Later, he employed one of his favorite rhetorical devices, “they say:”
TRUMP: They say that we had hurricanes that were far worse than what we just had with Michael.”
STAHL: Who says that? “They say”?
TRUMP: People say. People say that in the–
STAHL: Yeah, but what about the scientists who say it’s worse than ever?
TRUMP: You’d have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda, Lesley.
…So he think it’s a scientific conspiracy?
How much interrupting is too much?
Some viewers thought Stahl didn’t interject/fact-check enough. Others thought she interrupted too often. CNN’s Chris Cuomo, responding to a critic of Stahl’s, said she is top notch, and “to check all the dissembling you would need to interrupt POTUS constantly. And she would never get another interview. Some push back is better than none.”
There was a curious amount of “baby” talk in the interview. Trump said “I’m not a baby” at two different points. He’s hardly ever used that line publicly before. And he said Manhattan real estate bosses are “babies” compared to vicious DC types…
When asked by a colleague why Trump said yes to the interview now, after turning down “60 Minutes” for almost two years, Stahl said, “I think he’s trying to win the midterm election for the Republicans. And I think he believes, and IKNOW his people believe, the more he’s out there, publicly, the stronger the chances are for the Republicans…”
FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE
– Next up on the TV tour: Trump will be on Trish Regan’s Fox Business show on Tuesday night… Regan’s promotion to the 8 p.m. hour takes effect on Monday…
– “On Friday, NBC News reported, and tweeted, that President Donald Trump praised Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee as ‘incredible.’ But on Sunday, NBC had to correct that tweet since, as it turns out, Trump was actually praising Union General (and future U.S. President) Ulysses S. Grant in the clip…” (Mediaite)
– Trump called out NBC via Twitter in the morning, then thanked the network for the correction later in the day… (Twitter)
Media week ahead
– Monday: The president and the first lady will visit areas impacted by Hurricane Michael…
– Satya Nadella, Kevin Systrom, Jony Ive, Susan Wojcicki, Jack Dorsey, Sundar Pichai, and many more will be speaking at the WIRED25 Summit… WIRED will be live-streaming it…
– Tuesday: Netflix earnings day…
– Thursday: CNN will hold a live town hall with Beto O’Rourke in McAllen, Texas…
– Friday: Via Brian Lowry: “Halloween,” a 40-years-later sequel with Jamie Lee Curtis that ignores all the ones in between, opens in theaters…
– Friday: “Making a Murderer Part 2” premieres on Netflix…
“Roseanne” without Roseanne
Is there really life after “Roseanne?” “The Conners” premieres on ABC on Tuesday night… The first episode explains Roseanne Barr’s absence, and reviewers were sworn to secrecy… And so far, the reviews have been mixed. Deadline’s Dominic Patten says the show is “fundamentally just another multi-cam” now. But EW’s Kristen Baldwin says it does “a good job replicating Roseanne without Roseanne.” The bottom line from THR’s Daniel Fienberg: “No Roseanne? No problem.” We’ll see…
New Perspectives section on CNN Business
Quick plug for the home team here: Our newly named CNN Business site is launching a new section for POV and opinion pieces, Perspectives, on Monday morning… Contributors at launch include Melinda Gates, Tina Tchen, Ian Bremmer… and Bill Carter! He has a commentary about the waning political power of shows like “SNL.”
“We are now at a point,” he says, “where television comedy, no matter how potent, is unlikely to pull even a few of the true believers out from the ring of wagons encircling their separate camps.” Here’s his full piece…
– Speaking of: Here’s Frank Pallotta’s recap of the “SNL” spoof of Trump with Kanye…