CSotD: Trump moves well, but too late

Chris Riddell (The Guardian) lays down the reality facing Donald Trump, though it also explains in part why Republicans will no doubt put in an extra effort to find flaws in mail-in ballots in order to exclude them.


Which brings to mind this David Horsey (Seattle Times) cartoon from the hanging chad debacle in 2000, in which Katherine Harris, Florida’s Secretary of State, had a conflict of interest or two but didn’t let them keep her from doing her job of overseeing the recount.

The fight over Florida’s vote ended with the Supreme Court ruling that Harris’s count was close enough, though that isn’t quite how they phrased it.

But that, in turn, brings to mind that Donald Trump openly announced that his haste to get Amy Coney Barrett confirmed was to ensure himself a friendly balance should the 2020 election end up before the Supreme Court.

At this point, it’s a hypothetical which she therefore doesn’t have to comment on, but, then again, she won’t have to be brought up to speed on the process, since she was a researcher for Bush’s legal team in that case, a team that included future justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh.

Which explains why Democrats are downplaying the polls and reminding people that Hillary Clinton was also leading in the polls up to Election Day.

In boxing, a tie goes to the champion, and it’s accepted that the challenger is best served by scoring a knock-out rather than piling up points and leaving the decision to the judges.

Different judges, same principle.


Kevin Siers (Charlotte Observer) riffs on the debate, which featured the bizarre spectacle of Trump accusing Biden of things he clearly, obviously does himself and to which Biden is only, at best, loosely tied.

For example, Trump is knee-deep in Chinese money, between his daughter’s fashion sales and his own recently-disclosed bank account there. His explanation of the bank account is that the deal never happened, but obviously he paid taxes on something, and, meanwhile, simply insisting that Biden is making money in China, without explaining how or when, is an empty accusation.

While, as Ann Telnaes (Washington Post) points out, going after the candidate’s son seems like a bizarre strategy from someone whose own adult children seem to have never held any jobs that weren’t based on being the children of Donald J. Trump.

L’il Donnie Jr. is even touting himself as a presidential candidate in 2024, and has not bothered to explain why he is qualified on any basis but genetics.

George W was often described as someone born on third base who thought he’d hit a triple, but this crew gives themselves credit for home runs without ever having left the dugout.


All that said, this Flying McCoys (AMS) expresses conservative resentment and doubt around the press and the Trump presidency.

It’s a combination of a normal, slightly paranoid reading of the press in which nobody feels their side is being portrayed accurately and a genuine, deliberate promotion of Lugenpresse as political strategy.

I’ve been interviewed, and I’ve picked up the morning paper as if it were ticking, not knowing how my words would be interpreted or misinterpreted. And I’ve seen associates make significant, inexcusable errors, embarrassing our publication if not themselves. (My own interviews were all spotless, of course.)

Which is to say that I’m not insensitive to the fact that reporters sometimes get it wrong, though more often through incompetence than malice.

But Donald Trump is also a master at blowing up interviews.

I think 60 Minutes failed the test last night and not only let Donald Trump lead them around by the nose, but then edited the two segments in such different ways as to make a bollix of the whole thing.

Leslie Stahl was confrontational, Norah O’Donnell was prosecutorial.

Either approach is acceptable, but it felt as if, the Trump interview having ended in recrimination, CBS News was determined to establish its fairness, including larding the program with multiple promotional ads touting their own competence.

But the real contrast was that Stahl’s interview seemed to run uninterrupted, while O’Donnell’s had constant fact checks. It was like a serious version of Monty Python’s Argument Clinic sketch:

Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.

Trump would make an outlandish claim and Stahl would simply say it wasn’t true. She may have been correct, but she did nothing to prove it.

By contrast, when Biden made a statement, O’Donnell’s interview would pause while she threw up a chart showing he’d gotten the numbers wrong.

Biden’s errors mostly seemed to come from his glibly quoting figures he didn’t have firmly in hand, something neither Barack Obama nor Jimmy Carter would do, but not unusual for mortal men.

Trump’s statements, by contrast, were his usual combination of smoke screens and bullshit, which, after nearly four years and more than 20,000 misstatements of fact, roll off the viewers’ back as perfectly normal.

I would suggest that either Trump’s interview should also have been interrupted with fact checks or O’Donnell should have let Biden’s errors go with an occasional contradiction. Either way, it needed to be consistent.

As it was, the effort to appear “fair” meant letting Trump’s interview go unchecked while holding Biden to a strict standard.

I doubt any minds or votes were changed — it’s awfully late in the game and they probably should have done this a month ago — but this was not good journalism.


Trump played them. Matt Wuerker (Politico) captures both his other-worldly reality bubble and the self-satisfied smile, and I have no doubt that Dear Leader watched the program last night and was convinced that he’d nailed it, in part because he had and in part because he’d think so anyway.

We’ll have to leave it to historians to figure out whether it was a cunning plan all along or just the result of the right narcissist stumbling onto the right moment.

And what the hell difference, if any, it made.



4 thoughts on “CSotD: Trump moves well, but too late

  1. Planet Trump has long occupied a different reality to ourselves. On 29 March he returned to planet Earth and said if we had 100 000 deaths he’d have done a fantastic job. Guess what? He couldn’t be bothered so long s the stock markets are doing fine.

  2. My impression of the 60 Minutes interview was different. I thought Trump showed himself to be exceptionally thin-skinned, childish and cowardly, running away at the first sign of push-back. Of course I was predisposed to see him that way anyway, but I don’t know how anybody could watch that and not wonder if he behaves the same when talking with NATO, China or Russia. The President of the U.S. should be able to handle tough questions; that’s Item One on the list of minimum qualifications. He couldn’t. He ran.

    I agree that Norah O’Donnell was more prosecutorial but thought Biden handled it fine, with equanimity and some good humor. Kinda like a president should be able to.

    At this point, every Trump appearance just seems to be unspooling more and more rope with which he’s hanging himself, which is fine by me.

  3. Let’s face it; Trump became President with 46% of the popular vote. That means the majority of America wanted someone else in the White House. In four years, he has done NOTHING to change that. He hasn’t even tried. I’d say Trump’s recent performances have been WAY too little and WAY too late. He’s only got a week left to overcome four years of bad behavior. Not gonna happen.

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