President Donald Trump sat for an interview that aired over the weekend with “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace, one of the most skilled – and best – interviewers in the news business. It did not go well for the President.
Wallace repeatedly fact-checked Trump’s falsehoods in real time – although it didn’t stop Trump from insisting he was right. (He was not right.) It was one of the best (and most revealing) interviews of Trump since he began running for office way back in the summer of 2015. I went through it and picked out the lines you need to see.
1. “If we didn’t test, you wouldn’t be able to show that chart. If we tested half as much, those numbers would be down.”
The chart Wallace showed was how coronavirus cases have surged. Also, testing doesn’t create cases. It identifies them! And away we go!
2. “I say flames, we’ll put out the flames. And we’ll put out in some cases just burning embers. We also have burning embers. We have embers and we do have flames. Florida became more flame like, but it’s – it’s going to be under control.”
Tortured metaphor alert!
3. “But when you talk about mortality rates, I think it’s the opposite. I think we have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.”
We don’t. We have the seventh highest coronavirus mortality rate in the world, according to Johns Hopkins. Which Wallace told Trump. Trump is using numbers from the European CDC, according to Wallace.
4. “Look, I take responsibility always for everything because it’s ultimately my job, too.”
“I don’t take responsibility at all.” – Donald Trump, March 13
5. “We find – if we did half the testing – with all of that being said, I’m glad we did it.”
Again, the President seems to believe that by testing we are creating more cases of Covid-19. No. We are simply identifying all of the cases already out there.
6. “Many of those cases are young people that would heal in a day. They have the sniffles, and we put it down as a test.”
Trump is displaying a basic lack of knowledge about coronavirus here. The issue is not necessarily the young people don’t have severe symptoms – or any symptoms at all. It’s who they can infect. Anyone who has followed the virus even casually knows that.
7. “Cases are up – many of those cases shouldn’t even be cases. Cases are up because we have the best testing in the world and we have the most testing.”
NO NO NO. First of all, they should be cases because even if you are asymptomatic you can transmit the disease to others. And just to be clear: Yes, testing has increased. But it has increased at nowhere close to the rate of infections. (Wallace cited statistics that said testing was up 37% and cases were up 194%.)
8. “No country has ever done what we’ve done in terms of testing. We are the envy of the world.”
The United States has, by far, the most coronavirus cases and deaths. Americans are currently not allowed to enter Europe. So, yeah, “envy of the world.”
9. “And I’m glad we do [testing], but it really skews the numbers.”
“They would like to have the people come off. I’d rather have the people stay [on the ship]. But I’d go with them. I told them to make the final decision. I would rather — because I like the numbers being where they are. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.” – Trump, on March 9, regarding Americans on the Grand Princess cruise ship docked off of California.
10. “It came from China. They should’ve never let it escape.”
Trump, again, seems not to grasp this is a highly transmissible disease. China clearly was less than transparent about Covid-19 when it emerged, but the idea that they definitely could have fully stopped its spread seems to overlook what we know about the virus’ infection rate.
11. “We find cases and many of those cases heal automatically.”
I am not totally sure what he means here. But I am totally sure it’s not true.
12. “We’re finding – in a way, we’re creating trouble.”
What Trump means is that by increasing testing, it is producing more people with coronavirus. And we are not creating trouble! We are identifying where trouble already existed. Why is that hard to grasp?
13. “Everybody thought this summer it would go away and it would come back in the fall. Well, when the summer came, they used to say the heat – the heat was good for it and it really knocks it out, remember? “
I do remember – and the person who said the heat would knock it out was Trump. Most experts suggested that the summer months might lessen the spread (like the flu) but cautioned that we didn’t know enough about the virus to make any determinations like that.
14. “He’s a little bit of an alarmist. That’s OK. A little bit of an alarmist.”
This is Trump on Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Now feels like a good time to note that there are more than 3.7 million coronavirus cases in the country and 140,000 people have died because of the virus.
15. “I guess everybody makes mistakes.”
FACT CHECK: True!
16. “I’ll be right eventually. I will be right eventually. You know I said, ‘It’s going to disappear.’ I’ll say it again.”
This is how Trump responded to Wallace playing a clip of the President back in January saying this of the coronavirus: “It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” Also, saying “I’ll be right eventually” on an infectious disease eventually running its course is like me predicting there will be a 2020 election. Like, I will be right about that. But also, so what?
17. “Because I’ve been right probably more than anybody else.”
18. “No I want people to have a certain freedom, and I don’t believe in that. No, and I don’t agree with the statement that if everybody wear(s) a mask everything disappears. Hey, Dr. Fauci said don’t wear a mask. Our Surgeon General – terrific guy – said don’t wear a mask.”
There’s so much wrong here. I’ll just pick out one: Trump said that Surgeon General Jerome Adams said don’t wear a mask. Which was true months ago, back when we knew way less about the virus and how it transmits. Here’s Adams on Fox News Monday morning: “I’m pleading with your viewers, I’m begging you, please understand that we are not trying to take away your freedoms when we say wear a face covering.”
19. “Everybody who is saying don’t wear a mask – all of sudden everybody’s got to wear a mask, and as you know masks cause problems, too. With that being said, I’m a believer in masks. I think masks are good.”
Yes, masks can be problematic for people with pre-existing breathing issues. But for the vast majority of Americans, they are our best tool to fight the spread of the coronavirus. “We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield last week. “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”
20. “But I leave it up to the governors. Many of the governors are changing. They’re more mask into – they like the concept of masks, but some of them don’t agree.”
It’s not about being “more” into masks. it’s about public health. And the overwhelming evidence that masks help slow the spread of Covid-19.
21. “It’s hot. It’s about, well, sort-of almost record breaking stuff.”
Trump and Wallace did the interview outside – and it was in the upper 90s in DC over the weekend. Also, even when it comes to the weather, Trump likes to set records.
22. “I wanted you to sweat a little bit.”
23. “And Biden wants to defund the police.”
He doesn’t. (Which Wallace noted immediately when Trump made this false claim.)
24. “Many whites are killed also. You have to say that.”
This is Trump’s response to Wallace’s question about how the death of George Floyd has affected the Black community. Yes, really.
25. “I mean, many, many whites are killed. I hate the sad – but this is going on for decades.”
Yup, he said it again. Related: I also “hate the sad.”
26. “This thing is many pages long. End prosecution of illegal border-crossers. Support deathly – and these are the worse things, sanctuary cities.”
This is an amazing moment. After Wallace told Trump that Biden had never said he supported defunding the police (see No. 23), Trump asked his staff to get the document produced by the “Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force” that contained a series of policy recommendations. Which they did. And Trump was unable to find where it says Biden supports defunding the police. Because it doesn’t say that in the document. You can read the whole thing here.
27. “When people – when people proudly have their Confederate flags, they’re not talking about racism. They love their flag, it represents the South, they like the South.”
What Trump seems not to grasp is that for a lot of other people, the Confederate flag represents slavery and oppression.
28. “People right now like the South. I’d say it’s freedom of, of, of many things, but it’s freedom of speech.”
“I’d say it’s freedom of, of, of many things.” – The President of the United States
29. “Excuse me, excuse me. I don’t care what the military says. I do – I’m supposed to make the decision.”
Wallace noted that the military said they were just fine with renaming bases that are named after Confederate generals. To which Trump, the self-professed biggest supporter of the military ever, said he doesn’t care what the military says. So, OK.
30. “We won two World Wars, nobody even knows General Bragg. We won two World Wars.”
[slowly looks around the room]
31. “We’re going to name it after the Reverend Al Sharpton? What are you going to name it, Chris, tell me what you’re going to name it?”
No one has mentioned naming a military base after Al Sharpton. I wonder why Trump picked the name of an African American Democrat out of the blue? Weird!
32. “I don’t believe in polls because I see the fakest polls I’ve ever seen, but that poll is a 64% thing, which actually surprised me.”
OK, so Trump thinks polls are fake. Except one that shows that a majority of people don’t want to change the names of military bases named after Confederate generals. That one is a good poll. Not at all fake. (Side note: I couldn’t find a poll that showed 64% of people opposing the renaming of bases. This ABC News-Ipsos poll showed 56% in opposition.)
33. “We won World Wars out of these military bases. No, I’m not going to go changing them, I’m not going to go changing them.”
Trump seems to equate winning wars with the names of bases. I am pretty sure that if Fort Bragg was called “Fort Pink” it wouldn’t have changed the outcomes of World War I or World War II.
34. “I watch, I read, look at the stuff.”
I, too, “look at the stuff.”
35. “Look at the professors. Look at what’s going on in the colleges. If a conservative goes on a college – and look, we have as many as them. Excuse me, I think to the best of my knowledge, we’re sitting at the White House and the Oval Office is right behind me. We have as many as them.”
Trump starts off this answer talking about cancel culture. Then he somehow segues into the fact that he is President? Or something?
36. “First of all, I’m not losing, because those are fake polls.”
37. “I have a poll where we’re leading in every swing state.”
Really? That seems like the sort of thing the President’s campaign might want to release, right? Assuming it exists?
38. “And I don’t believe that your – first of all, the Fox polls, whoever does your Fox polls, they’re among the worst. They got it all wrong in 2016. They’ve been wrong on every poll I’ve ever seen.”
Fox News polling gets an “A/B” according to 538’s pollster grades.
39. “Biden can’t put two sentences together. They wheel him out. He goes up – he repeats – they ask him questions. He reads a teleprompter and then he goes back into his basement.”
In which the President suggest his general election opponent is either mentally incompetent or being controlled by forces Biden is not aware of. His evidence? Oh, he doesn’t have any.
40. “I don’t want to say that. I’d say he’s not competent to be President.”
Wallace directly asked whether Trump believed Biden was senile. Trump dodged.
41. “Joe doesn’t know he’s alive, OK? He doesn’t know he’s alive.”
OK, so Trump isn’t willing to call Biden “senile” but he is fine saying Biden “doesn’t know he’s alive?” Also, what exactly does that even mean?
42. “I built the greatest economy ever built anywhere in the world; not only of this country, anywhere in the world.”
[narrator voice] He did not.
43. “Look, I built the greatest economy in history, I’m now doing it again.”
44. “I called Michigan, I want to have a big rally in Michigan. Do you know we’re not allowed to have a rally in Michigan? Do you know we’re not allowed to have a rally in Minnesota? Do you know we’re not allowed to have a rally in Nevada? We’re not allowed to have rallies.”
Trump’s argument here is that Democratic governors are refusing to allow him to hold large gatherings because they want to hurt him politically. That these governors are abiding by public health guidelines that warn against large-group gatherings – particularly indoors – seems not to factor into Trump’s thinking.
45. “It’s all misrepresentation. Because, yes, the first few questions are easy, but I’ll bet you couldn’t even answer the last five questions. I’ll bet you couldn’t, they get very hard, the last five questions.”
Wallace tells Trump he took the same cognitive test that the President bragged he had “aced” and that it wasn’t difficult. To which Trump insists that it actually is very hard and Wallace probably couldn’t even get the last few questions right. Very normal stuff! Modern-day presidential, even!
46. “Religion will be gone, OK?”
I bet you didn’t know Joe Biden would eliminate religion if he wins in November, did you?
47. “We’re signing a health care plan within two weeks, a full and complete health care plan that the Supreme Court decision on DACA gave me the right to do.”
This will be news to, well, everyone.
48. “I have a mother who was like a saint.”
“Dorothy Mantooth is a saint!.” – Wes Mantooth
49. “I’m not a big fan of ‘Fox,’ I’ll be honest with you. They’ve changed a lot since Roger Ailes.”
Prediction: Trump starts his own TV network when he leaves office.
50. “I love that it’s close to 100 degrees out today.”
Said no one. Ever.
51. “He’s shot, he’s mentally shot.”
Trump, again, suggest Biden is not mentally up to the job of being president. Evidence? Oh, he offered none.
52. “I’m not a good loser. I don’t like to lose. I don’t lose too often. I don’t like to lose.”
53. ” I have to see. Look, you – I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.”
This is Trump’s response to Wallace’s direct question as to whether he will “accept the election” win or lose. If this answer doesn’t make you worry about the fall (and winter), you aren’t paying attention.
54. “I think I was very unfairly treated. From before I even won I was under investigation by a bunch of thieves, crooks. It was an illegal investigation.”
Wallace’s question? ” Whether it’s in 2021 or 2025, how will you regard your years as President of the United States?” The level of victimhood in Trump is staggering.
55. “I’ve been very unfairly treated, and I don’t say that as paranoid. I’ve been very – everybody says it.”
Yeah, this feels like a good place to end.