5 August 2020

Mr Trump, respectfully… WTF?

The Back Page

Axios reporter Jonathan Swan has exposed the comical irrationality of US President Donald Trump’s pandemic narrative in a one-on-one interview that should not be missed.

The interview, shot by HBO, runs a bit like a political comedy sketch and would be quite funny if the situation were not so tragically real.

With over 159,000 Americans dead from COVID-19, it’s refreshing to see a respectful reporter cutting through and challenging Mr Trump’s often delusional interpretation of the medical facts.

When Mr Trump’s arguments don’t make any sense whatsoever, Mr Swan points that out by interrupting and providing a range of quizzical facial expressions that have since been catalogued on Twitter.

“The point is, the point is, because we are so much better at testing than any other country in the world, we show more cases,” says Mr Trump during the interview.

“The figure I look at is death and death is going up now. It’s a thousand a day,” replies Mr Swan.

“Take a look at these charts,” says Mr Trump.

“I’d love to,” says Swan.

“Well, right here, the USA is lowest in numerous categories. We’re lower than the world,” says Mr Trump.

“Lower than the world?” asks Mr Swan.

“We’re lower than Europe. Look.,” says Mr Trump, passing over a piece of paper.

“In what?” asks Mr Swan.

“Take a look. Right here. Here is case death,” clarifies Mr Trump.

“Oh, you’re doing death as a proportion of cases,” says Mr Swan. “I’m talking about death as a proportion of population. That’s where the US is really bad. Much worse than South Korea, Germany etc.”

“You can’t, you can’t do that. You have to…” says Mr Trump.

“Why can’t I do that?” asks Mr Swan.

Mr Swan never concedes or backs down during the interview, and should probably win some kind of media award for managing to maintain a polite and friendly demeanour throughout.

Mr Swan is the son of our very own Dr Norman Swan, the prominent ABC health reporter, but he somehow avoids the temptation to pull out his phone and put his Dad on speaker during the interview.

The whole Swan family is getting in on the action, with Politico reporter Betsy Woodruff Swan (Jonathan Swan’s wife) adding some commentary on Twitter…

It may help to pretend it’s something out of Armando Iannucci:

Here’s the full video. We advise watching in parts to avoid awkwardness overload.

If you hear something stupid, say something stupid… send your interview techniques and tips to [email protected]

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