You know that Trump must feel desperate when he goes outside his bubble of sycophantic right wing interviewers that fawn over him. He agreed to a town hall hosted by ABC News two days ago that featured ordinary people asking him questions and he was clearly rattled by their directness. One questioner even shut him down when he interrupted her while she was asking it. The problem for Trump is that it is easy for him to insult reporters and political opponents when they challenge him. His fans love it. But he cannot do that with ordinary people though he must have been sorely tempted to do so. The event went so badly that one of his biggest sycophants Laura Ingraham of Fox News called it an ‘ambush’ by ABC.
In a rare excursion outside the friendly media bubble of Fox News on Tuesday night, Donald Trump took questions directly from uncommitted American voters at a televised “town hall” type event, in an experiment his campaign might not be in a hurry to repeat.
Under sometimes aggressive questioning from ordinary members of the voting public about healthcare, immigration and the coronavirus, Trump at times twisted in the spotlight, narrowing his eyes at a question about the “race problem in America” and trying to interrupt another voter’s question about health insurance.
But the voter shut the president down. “Please stop and let me finish my question, sir,” said the questioner, Ellesia Blaque, a professor from Philadelphia who explained that as a Black woman with a pre-existing health condition, “I’m minimized and not taken seriously.”
Trump looked away sourly, but did not try to interrupt again.
Political analysts could not look away in the aftermath of what some regarded as a train-wreck performance for Trump, while Trump himself claimed the next day on Twitter that he had won “great reviews”.
“Would love to know who in the White House thought that Trump doing this town hall was a good idea,” tweeted the columnist Karen Tumulty.
What I found very revealing was when Trump said that “a lot of people think the masks are not good”. He always uses the phrase “Some people say …”, “A lot of people say …”, and “I hear that …” When he wants to make a claim that has absolutely no basis in fact. It is, as poker players say, a ‘tell’ that he is making stuff up. When George Stephanopoulos asked him who said that, Trump replied “Waiters”. Yes, even though he has access to the best medical advice, he gets it from the people who serve him his food. Also the fact that ‘waiters’ are the first class of ordinary people that come to his mind is telling about the life he has led.
Seth Meyers had a good analysis of what went down, highlighting all the lies and the most egregious one, that he has been repeatedly promising a health care plan for years without delivering. When this was pointed out by Stephanopoulos, Trump said he already has one ready, which was another obvious lie. What is he waiting for?