21st May 2024

Donald Trump’s floundering performance during Thursday’s NBC town hall left many feeling there was only one winner from the event – Trump’s interviewer, Savannah Guthrie.

Guthrie, a co-host of NBC’s Today morning show, repeatedly got the better of Trump as she pressed the president on his debts, his actions on coronavirus, and the dangerous rightwing conspiracy theory QAnon.

Trump was at times clearly uncomfortable, and his campaign attacked Guthrie less than an hour after the event finished, suggesting Guthrie had filled the role of “Joe Biden surrogate”.

The criticism from the Trump campaign only served to prove that this was a nightmare scenario for the president.

In Guthrie, Trump met someone who not only fact-checked him in real time, but at times pushed back on his usually unchallenged rhetoric.

The tone was set early, when Trump claimed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had found that “85% of people who wear a mask catch [coronavirus]”.

Guthrie corrected the president, explaining that is not what the survey said – it found that of a group of 150 Covid-19 patients, 85% said they had worn a mask.

A standout moment came when Guthrie challenged Trump over QAnon, an online conspiracy theory that the FBI believes is a potential domestic terror threat.

Asked by Guthrie if he would denounce the QAnon theory and “just say it’s crazy and not true”, Trump responded: “I don’t know about QAnon.”

Guthrie stuck to the topic and suggested to Trump that he did actually know about the conspiracy theory, which has been widely covered in the press and has found support among many of Trump’s backers.

“What I do hear about it, they are very strongly against pedophilia,” Trump said.

The exchange created one of the headlines of the night, as Trump seemingly offered a tacit defense of QAnon, whose adherents believe that a cabal of Satan-worshipping Democrats, Hollywood celebrities and billionaires runs the world while engaging in pedophilia.

Believers and promoters of QAnon are a regular presence in crowds at Trump rallies, and Trump and other Republicans have been reluctant to criticize the movement.

Just this week Trump shared a post from a QAnon Twitter account which claimed that Joe Biden had had a navy Seal team killed. Guthrie asked Trump why he had done so.

“That was a retweet! People can decide for themselves!” Trump said.

Guthrie responded: “I don’t get that. You’re the president, not someone’s crazy uncle.”

Credit: theguardian.com

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