Another media attack on Trump fails
NBC attempted to set a trap for Donald Trump during the town hall, ambushing the president with interrogation-like questions and then interrupting him as he tried to speak. As usual, it backfired.
NeverTrumps believe that Savannah Guthrie did an excellent job in her role as moderator of the Trump town hall. Trump-supporters, with good reason, could see that it was the exact opposite. But what is important is the view of the large number of undecided viewers. The response of the public does not appear to support the Trump-haters' reading of events.
Actually, it was pretty bad, raising questions as to how or why it could happen.
Did the Trump campaign pay NBC executives to choreograph this town hall, or are they really that incompetent? Guthrie was coached by NBC executives. They knew exactly how she would behave. They did not take into consideration the negative reaction to Chris Wallace's performance during the first debate and how that affected public regard for them, because Getting Trump was too important. But Guthrie did not come across well, and it's going to backfire on them. It is almost unbelievable that these highly paid executives could be so incompetent.
The president knew in advance what he would be confronted with. The Deep State Media have a limited number of questions in their quiver. One mandatory question is about his willingness to denounce white supremacy. Guthrie stated, "You were asked point blank to denounce white supremacy. In the moment, you didn't. You asked me follow-up questions. Two specifically." The president mentioned that his advisers had told him this would be brought up. If there is another "debate," it will certainly be brought up again. Through repetition, it will convince a number of people that he has not denounced it. The fact that there are numerous recordings of his denunciations is irrelevant. Has Guthrie or Wallace denounced white supremacy? If they have not done so publicly, can it be assumed that they are white supremacists?
There are legitimate arguments that can be made about this administration’s policies. They can be argued in a civil fashion by well informed critics. Although this was not Guthrie's role as a moderator, she spent much of the hour presenting arguments against Trump. She was neither civil nor informed, and she constantly cut in whenever the president tried to answer. How would Kamala Harris have handled the interruptions?
A large number of commentators think the president is not very intelligent. Yet Trump consistently makes fools of them, and they do not seem to catch on. Guthrie believes she is so much more intelligent than Trump and that he is an illegitimate president. Therefore, there is no need to be respectful. The vast majority of people saw her come across as a harpy. If she was dealing with an average citizen, her behavior would be considered inappropriate. Her disrespect for the president was inexcusable.
One peculiar exchange involved QAnon. Guthrie appeared to be more agitated when discussing this. She questioned, "Let me ask you about QAnon." The president responded, "I know nothing about QAnon." When Guthrie told him, "I just told you," the president replied, "What you tell does not necessarily make it fact."
Wallace and Guthrie's interrogation of the president played into Trump's hands by reinforcing the view that the media are biased. The president's opponents believe that Guthrie did a good job and are patting themselves on the back. And with their particular interest in knocking out Trump, she did what they wanted.
But audiences know about a thing called "fairness," and they saw none of it in the Guthrie show. That the press wasn't fair to Trump in 2016 was a commonly cited reason by ordinary voters for sympathizing with Trump. (In literature, a good writer always makes the reader sympathize with, and often feel sorry for, the protagonist at the start.) Many voted for Trump for just this reason.
The Trump-haters are delusional in thinking they won anything with this unfair and sorry performance.
John Dietrich is a freelance writer and the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy (Algora Publishing). He has a Master of Arts degree in international relations from St. Mary’s University. He is retired from the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. He is featured on the BBC's program "Things We Forgot to Remember:" Morgenthau Plan and Post-War Germany.
Image credit: Bloomberg Quick Take: Now / NBC News screen shot via shareable YouTube.