NEW YORK Savannah Guthrie has done more than just flaunt her skills as a journalist at NBC News City Hall with President Donald Trump. She changed the subject for her bosses.
NBC was in shock as Thursday’s event approached, under much criticism for scheduling it alongside ABC mayoralty with Democratic opponent Joe Biden. NBC has been accused of rewarding Trump for rejecting the debate commissions’ plan to virtually hold the second debate.
This was quickly forgotten when the President sat across from Guthrie, who asked him specifically about the date of his last positive COVID-19 test (he said he could not remember), s’ he had pneumonia (didn’t say) and his personal finances.
The Georgetown Law School graduate had clearly done her homework, seemingly prepared for every answer. When the President recited a statistic from a study on the effectiveness of masks in the spread of COVID-19, Guthrie also read it and countered it.
As the host of Today, Guthrie understands the importance of time and knows how to keep an interview subject from filibustering. This background also teaches how to crystallize what an audience thinks in a clear way, as evidenced by its most cited moment.
She was in disbelief when, after asking why Trump retweeted a false conspiracy theory that US special forces didn’t really kill Osama bin Laden, he said he just broadcast it to let people decide by themselves.
I don’t understand that, said Guthrie. You are the president. You’re not like your crazy uncle of someone who can retweet anything.
Likewise, Guthrie described the theory promoted online by QAnon that Democrats are running a satanic pedophile ring and that Trump was the savior supposed to stop them, and asked why he hadn’t denounced him. Trump said he didn’t know.
I just told you, she said.
Just because she says something doesn’t mean it’s true, the president retorted.
There is no satanic pedophile cult, she says. Don’t you know that?
Trump is by far the most difficult public figure to interview, said Axios reporter Jonathan Swan, who along with Fox News Chris Wallace and now Guthrie has received the most praise of any TV reporter for taking him to the scene. this electoral cycle.
The biggest challenge with President Trump is that it’s never a linear conversation, Swan said. It’s like riding a bronco. The elaboration of the questions doesn’t really matter because it answers topics.
It takes enormous homework, both to know the facts and to anticipate Trump’s reaction, he said. Even then, it’s possible to become so engrossed in fact-checking that it disrupts the flow of the conversation, he said.
When Guthrie asked Trump about his personal finances and taxes, the president tried to cut off the conversation by saying what he had since 2016, that he couldn’t talk about it because he was under audit. Guthrie said there is no law preventing a person being audited from discussing their taxes and insisted: Who do you owe $ 421 million? she asked.
She jumped on it when, during a discussion of White House events where masks were not worn, the president mentioned how he was touched by people at a reception for relatives of slain service members in service.
Do you think a grieving military family gave you COVID, she asked.
She took an unusual amount of time for one-on-one questions, as the format called for questions from the audience to dominate the event. She also followed questions from the public: When Trump spoke about healthcare and maintaining protection against pre-existing conditions, Guthrie pointed out that his administration was trying in court to eliminate that.
A glance online provided an illustration of Guthries’ effectiveness. Words such as condescension, harassment, argumentation and intimidation have been used on social media by supporters of the president. Memes have appeared with Guthries’ face resembling a vampire or a devil.
Why is someone taking Savannah Guthrie seriously? Tory talk show host Buck Sexton tweeted. She was clownish and strident last night. Simply awful.
Ahead of an appearance in Florida on Friday, Trump opened up about his experience with little Guthrie potatoes.
If you can’t handle Savannah, you can’t handle Putin, President Xi, and Kim Jong Un, he said.
Tim Murtaugh, spokesperson for the Trumps campaign, said even though the commission-sponsored debate was called off on Thursday, it still took place. He said Guthrie played the role of debate opponent and Biden substitute.
Yet in declaring Guthrie one of the winners of Thursday Nights of Politics on TV, the Vox website said his quick line of questions, pushbacks and fact-checks likely made the White House wish that she had just started the debate.
In addition to giving NBC News executives a reprieve from online critics’ call for a boycott, Guthrie has helped restore the honor of the Today show. His former partner, Matt Lauer, was widely criticized in 2016 for his questioning in back-to-back interviews with Trump and Hillary Clinton.
NBC News said it would not make Guthrie or network executives available to talk about Friday’s performance.
More than anyone else, Axios Swan understands the important issues surrounding the Trump interview.
There is no doubt, because the scrutiny of every interview he does is so intense that you can do tremendous damage to yourself if you are not well prepared, he said.
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