Filmed on Tuesday, Trump’s sit-down with Stahl stoked controversy from the start. Rumors flew as he walked out of the hour-long interview after 45 minutes, and he confirmed things had gone badly when he later promised to release a recording of it “so that everybody can get a glimpse of what a FAKE and BIASED interview is all about.” The president followed through and released the footage on Thursday, three days before its scheduled airing.
Before the cameras started rolling, Trump asked Stahl to “just be fair,” adding “you don’t ask Biden tough questions.” But Stahl was adversarial from the outset, hammering him on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and telling him his boasts of economic achievement before the virus hit were “not true.”
Trump lashed out at Stahl for claiming he asked suburban women, “Will you please like me, please?” “That’s so misleading,” Trump responded, “I said jokingly: ‘Suburban women, you should love me because I’m giving you security.’ See, the way you said that is why people think of you and everyone else as fake news.”
As the interview progressed, Stahl repeatedly cut across Trump, as the president grew visibly frustrated. She denied that the release of Hunter Biden’s emails – which apparently reveal foreign corruption in the Biden family – constitute a “scandal,” and denied that the FBI “spied” on Trump’s 2016 campaign, despite mounds of documentary evidence to the contrary.
“I don’t have to discredit you,” Trump sniped at one point. “You’ve discredited yourself.”
Stahl, however, called the Hunter Biden story “discredited,” and, when Trump accused Biden of “going into hiding” to avoid questions on the scandal, she apparently covered for the Democrat, reminding Trump, “He’s preparing for your debate.”
This exchange between Trump and Lesley Stahl is insane. She repeatedly insists the Biden laptops “can’t be verified” so reporters shouldn’t talk about it.
Trump asks her why it can’t be verified.
Her answer: “Because it can’t be verified.” pic.twitter.com/cf9hcSGnrm
— Anders Hagstrom (@Hagstrom_Anders) October 22, 2020
The final straw came after Stahl accused Trump of wanting to “lock up” Gretchen Whitmer, the pro-lockdown governor of Michigan. The president railed at Stahl for her network’s “softball” treatment of Biden, and for her “inappropriate” questioning. Then, with five minutes to go before Vice President Mike Pence was due to join him, he declared he’d had “enough,” and walked out.
Shortly after Trump released the video, CBS News responded, calling the decision “unprecedented,” and saying the network would not be deterred from providing “full, fair and contextual reporting,” and would air the slot as planned this weekend, along with a similar interview with Biden.
— Paula Reid (@PaulaReidCBS) October 22, 2020
Trump and Biden will appear together on Thursday night for the final head-to-head debate before Americans go to the polls on November 3.
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