How ABC’s Trump Interview Shows the Modern Media is Ill-Equipped to Deal with Pathological Liars
Nearly everything about this presidential campaign is upside-down. Democrats are waving American flags and acting tough on Russia. Republicans suddenly no longer think plagiarizing major speeches from Michelle Obama, or dramatically raising the federal minimum wage, are a problem at all.
For me, a long-time vocal critic of the mainstream media’s obvious liberal bias, this “Alice in Wonderland” universe (where I am convinced there are actually two liberal Democrats still running) is particularly bizarre because I now suddenly see some evidence of what is effectively a “Pro-Republican” favoritism. However, what is really, at times, happening is that a guy who currently calls himself a Republican is benefiting from how poorly equipped the modern news media is to deal with someone like him.
The person I am referring to, of course, is Donald Trump. The attributes he possesses which make him like a greased pig to the news media are that he is a ratings-magnet who lies so prodigiously and continuously that it is simply not possible for them to corral him in the very short amount of time allotted.
There may be no better example of this phenomenon than ABC’s much-hyped interview with Trump by George Stephanopoulos, which aired on Sunday. While Hillary Clinton was caught in several significant lies in her Fox News interview broadcast the same day, Trump may have broken some sort of record for the sheer quantity of clear deceptions.
Stephanopoulos, surely somewhat handcuffed because of his extremely close ties to the Clintons (perhaps this was why Trump decided to do the interview?), started off by declaring Trump the ratings victor of the convention acceptance speeches. The fact that we are now apparently making this officially a “thing” (though George, knowingly his subject well, was surely using it to ingratiate himself with Trump) is depressing enough, but that was nothing compared to what Trump unleashed in the ensuing fifteen minutes, or so.
Here is a comprehensive list of the demonstrable lies/deceptions with which Trump largely got away, usually with no more than token resistance:
Four times Trump claimed, “I have a great temperament.” He also has amazing hair and very large hands.
“I’m leading her in the polls.” While some polls have him (likely very temporarily) ahead, he was by no objective measure “leading” the race when the interview was conducted.
“I’ve run a flawless campaign.” Seriously? Is that why the popular GOP governor of the most must-win state on the map refused to even attend Trump’s convention in his own home state and the guy who finished second in the primaries famously refused to endorse him in his speech?
“She (Hillary) couldn’t beat Bernie.” When Stephanopoulos pushed back on this absurdity (Hillary won by more than she “lost” to Trump in the ratings battle), the math-challenged Trump added, “barely.”
Three times Trump claimed, “I have no relationship with Putin.” Here, Stephanopoulos did about the best he could, citing three straight years where Trump publicly bragged that they did have a relationship. However, when Trump let out with a very Bill Clinton-esque “I don’t know what it means by having a relationship,” he was able to slither away.
Stephanopoulos then appeared unprepared to go in for the kill when Trump referenced having done 60 Minutes together with Putin, but “not together, together.” Trump had very clearly implied during a GOP debate last year that he had met Putin during that taping, which, despite not making any sense at all (“60 Minutes” isn’t a live show done from one location), the media at the time gave Trump a pass because, after all, who the hell would lie about something like that?!
Even more bizarrely, Trump claimed in 2014 to have spoken with Putin, but told ABC, with also no blowback, that he has never had any communication with him.
Stephanopoulos also completely let Trump off the hook when after being asked about the GOP platform being softened, but his own staff, on the issue of Ukraine. Trump claimed, ridiculously, and on multiple occasions (a giveaway that Trump is lying), “I was not involved in that, honestly.”
When Trump tried to play tough guy and boasted about Putin that “he’s not going to go into Ukraine, you can mark it down,” Stephanopoulos did at least mention that Russia is indeed already there. When Trump meekly blamed Obama for cover, he was once again able to escape what should have been a damaging exchange (here’s an excellent analysis of that issue from conservative blog Hot Air).
When the subject then turned to Trump’s financials, he crowed, “I have very little debt to anyone… I’m so liquid I don’t need debt.” A surely exhausted Stephanopoulos never bothered to mention that Trump has routinely admitted to being a master of using large amounts of debt, or to ask him why, if he is really so liquid, his campaign was, until very recently, basically broke.
Among Trump’s incredibly lame excuses for breaking his prior promise (one Stephanopoulos didn’t even mention) to release his tax returns, was that he can’t even reveal his old taxes because “they’re all linked.” I really would have loved to hear Trump respond to the rather obvious follow-up question, “How can older tax returns be linked to years and events which hadn’t even happened yet?”
One of the best ways to tell Trump is hiding something big (or really small?) in his taxes is the absurdity of his various rationales for breaking his promise, made when he probably never thought he would be the nominee, to do so. The most obviously ludicrous is the theory he offered that, “I think he (Mitt Romney in 2012) lost because of a couple of really minor items on a tax return.” This idea is so off the wall that, even though it is technically an opinion, it is, at least in this context, actually an obvious lie. No one, not even Trump, can name what “items” he is referring to and Romney held his strongest standing in the polls after having fully make public his extensive tax records.
Even though his campaign definitively declared last week that Trump would not be releasing his taxes, their candidate still contradicted that to ABC, saying, “When I’m finished with the audit I’ll do it.” This is clearly yet another lie and simply a way for him to claim that he hasn’t broken his tax return promise. He’s simply going to use the invalid audit excuse (even Richard Nixon didn’t try that!) until the very end and hope the mainstream, like the “conservative” media did during the primaries, lets him get away with it.
Later, when asked about former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg blasting him at the Democratic Convention, Trump claimed of the man who was mayor of his city for twelve years, “He doesn’t know me well.” However, Trump once said they were “friends” and has, as his interviewer pointed out, often praised Bloomberg and even played golf with him. I guess it depends on what the definition of “relationship” is.
When asked about why so many Trump companies have products made overseas, Trump greatly exaggerated, “They (the country) make it impossible (to make things in USA).” Impossible? Hardly. Unless of course you care far more about your profit margin than hiring American workers, which is fine, I guess, unless you are running for president on Trump’s platform.
When whining about the upcoming debate schedule conflicting twice with early regular season NFL games, Trump lied, “I got a letter from the NFL saying this is ridiculous.” Stephanopoulos, his BS detector apparently at the shop for repairs, offered no follow-up to this standard Trump tactic of deception, but the NFL itself later made it clear that no such letter had been sent.
After weakly claiming that his hiring of tens of thousands (a probable lie) of workers qualified as a “sacrifice” he had made for his country, Trump responded to resistance to that ridiculousness by saying that he, “Takes care of their education.” There was no follow-up to clarification, but I would be shocked if this was remotely accurate.
Realizing that he was floundering on the “sacrifice” question, Trump then lunged for something which happened so long ago that he was confident that Stephanopoulos would be unarmed for a quick response, bragging that, “I was very responsible, along with a group of people, for getting the Vietnam Memorial built.” My immediate gut reaction that this too was classic Trump bullcrap appears to have been based in reality.
Trump finished by saying of Hillary, “She created ISIS.” I realize when it is now acceptable for major GOP convention speakers to literally tie her to Lucifer that we have lost all perspective of reality when it comes to statements about Clinton, but I’m pretty sure she missed the meeting when ISIS was created. My understanding is that the email making the announcement must have gotten lost in her private server.
While it may seem that I am blaming Stephanopoulos for this fiasco, I am really not. Today’s modern media, built to appeal to superficial customers with incredibly short attention spans, simply lacks the time, resources, or expertise to properly vet a gaffe machine like Donald Trump.
Of course, that is exactly how and why he became to the GOP nominee to begin with.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.