We already knew that Donald Trump’s interview on 60 Minutes was one that went a bit off the rails. That’s because, in a bit of spite, the White House released its video version of it in advance of Sunday’s broadcast.
What the segment itself showed is one of the sources of the president’s irritation: Correspondent Lesley Stahl’s tendency to challenge Trump on things that he has said — only to have him deny that he actually said them.
In contrast to the raw footage from the interview, 60 Minutes had the advantage of mixing in clips to show the video proof.
For instance, the show ran a clip of Trump at a rally saying, “Suburban women, will you please like me? Please, please. I saved your damn neighborhood, okay?”
Asked about the comment, Trump griped, “I didn’t say that. You know, that’s so misleading. I say jokingly, ‘Suburban women, you should love me because I’m giving you security.’”
There also was the moment when Stahl noted how many people at Trump’s rallies were not wearing masks or socially distanced in the midst of a pandemic, with 60 Minutes adding footage from the events.
After insisting attendees were wearing masks, Trump responded, “You’re so negative. These are the biggest rallies we have ever had. You just come in here with that negative attitude. You just come in here with that negative attitude.” He also was plenty miffed when she said that he used to have bigger rallies.
And there was the moment when Stahl asked Trump about encouraging his supporters to chant “lock her up” when he references Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, the target of a foiled kidnapping plot by an armed militia group.
Stahl said to the president, “You are very powerful, and the people who love you, love you with passion. And if you go after somebody the way you’ve been going after her, they take it to heart.”
“I haven’t gone after her,” Trump insisted.
But the show ran a clip of a Trump rally where supporters chanted, “Lock her up!” and he responded, “Lock ’em all up.”
As we all know, Trump was irritated enough that he cut this interview short, a moment that 60 Minutes aired as well, and one that will live in the show’s history.
The takeaway from the segment is largely a reminder that Trump’s raging against the media is not a bug but a central feature of his campaign message.
This certainly is not the first time we’ve seen Trump have run ins with the media, but it’s not 2016, or 2018, or early 2020, but nine days from the election. 60 Minutes is one of the last remaining opportunities for Trump to reach a wider national audience, short of a large scale advertising buy. He seized the moment, but any policy message was overshadowed by his defensiveness toward Stahl.
The president may indeed have a point, that Joe Biden does get easier questions. But the advantages of having the bully pulpit during a presidential campaign, one that Trump has exploited, also come with the drawbacks of having to defend your tenure in office.
As we saw in the 60 Minutes segment, that includes the lack of a healthcare plan, one that Trump insisted was in the works or was already finished.
Oddly enough, after Trump walked out of the room, in came Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. She handed Stahl a thick binder that was said to be the administration’s healthcare plan. The binder wasn’t blank, as some on social media have speculated. Yet, as Stahl said, “It was heavy. Filled with executive orders, congressional initiatives, but no comprehensive health plan.”
Norah O’Donnell interviewed Biden, and asked him about Trump’s attacks on Hunter Biden and the New York Post publication of unverified emails allegedly from the younger Biden’s laptop. But as Stahl told Trump in his interview, “This is 60 Minutes. And we can’t put on things we can’t verify.”
O’Donnell instead framed the question to Biden as one about the possibility that it was Russian disinformation.
“From what I’ve read and know the intelligence community warned the president that Giuliani was being fed disinformation from the Russians,” Biden said. “And we also know that– Putin is trying very hard to spread disinformation about Joe Biden. And so when you put the combination of Russia, Giuliani– the president, together– it’s just what it is. It’s a smear campaign because he has nothing he wants to talk about.”
The show also did some fact checking on some of Biden’s claims, including one about the trade deficit with China and another on just how much money will be raised via his tax plan.
O’Donnell also asked Biden about his age, as he would be the oldest president ever elected and the Trump campaign has made an issue of it.
“Donald Trump says you have dementia and it’s getting worse,” O’Donnell said.
Biden responded, “Hey, the same guy who thought that the 911 attack was a 7-Eleven attack. He’s talking about dementia? All I can say to the American people is watch me, is see what I’ve done, is see what I’m going to do. Look at me. Compare our physical and mental acuity. I’m happy to have that comparison.”