On Monday night, Fox News broadcast the first part of an interview between Donald Trump and Laura Ingraham. The primetime host is one of the president’s chief boosters, having spoken on his behalf at the Republican convention in 2016.
But things did not go entirely smoothly.
Echoing the fallout from recent one-on-ones with Chris Wallace of Fox and Jonathan Swan of Axios, much tougher interrogators, Trump’s rambling, confused, conspiracy-tinged answers swiftly dominated the news agenda. Even by his own standards, the interview contained some bizarre and outrageous statements.
Part two is due on Tuesday night. But according to the influential Politico Playbook newsletter, “very many people in the White House who would like Trump to win re-election are against the sit-down TV interviews the president has been doing.”
Here are five reasons why:
1. Biden and the shadow people
Amid an extended riff about the Democratic nominee being a “weak person” unable to deal with protests over racism and police brutality in many US cities, Trump said: “I don’t even like to mention Biden, because he’s not controlling anything. They control him.”
Ingraham gave Trump a chance to develop the thought: “Who do you think is pulling Biden’s strings? Is it former Obama officials?”
Trump didn’t think that.
‘People that you’ve never heard of,” he said. “People that are in the dark shadows. People that –”
Ingraham interjected: “What does that mean? That sounds like conspiracy theory. Dark shadows, what is that?”
“No,” said Trump. “People that you haven’t heard of. They’re people that are on the streets. They’re people that are controlling the streets.”
Joe Biden boards a plane in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, on Monday. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images
2. Shapes on a plane
The president wasn’t finished.
“We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend,” he said, “and in the plane it was almost completely loaded with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear and this and that. They’re on a plane.”
Ingraham asked: “Where was this?”
“I’ll tell you some time,” Trump said, “but it’s under investigation right now, but they came from a certain city, and this person was coming to the Republican national convention, and there were like seven people on the plane like this person, and then a lot of people were on the plane to do big damage. They were coming for –”
Ingraham asked if he meant these people on a plane were coming to Washington.
“Yes,” Trump said. “This is all happening.”
It may have happened on Facebook. In the real world, less so. Ingraham moved on.
3. Police shootings are like golf
“The police are under siege,” Trump said, as conversation turned to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the killings of other African Americans and protests over such deaths.
“They can do 10,000 great acts, which is what they do, and one bad apple – or a choker – you know, a choker. They choke. Shooting the guy [Blake] – shooting the guy in the back many times. I mean, couldn’t you have done something different? Couldn’t you have wrestled him? You know, I mean, in the meantime, he might have been going for a weapon, and, you know, there’s a whole big thing there, but they choke. Just like in a golf tournament, they miss a 3ft putt.”
Ingraham seemed alarmed.
“You’re not comparing to golf,” she said, “because, of course, that’s what the media would say.”
“No,” said Trump. “I’m saying people choke.”
“People panic,” Ingraham said. “Yes.”
Trump likens police brutality to golfer missing ‘a 3ft putt’ – video
4. ‘A sea of incompetent people’
“Let’s say for the sake of argument,” Ingraham said, in fact posing a question backed by solid polling data, “you have a deficit among female voters who may in some cases [think] you’re too aggressive, your tone or your tweets. What do you say to them directly about what you’ll do in a second term?”
“I have to be aggressive,” Trump said, “because I’m like standing here in a sea of incompetent people, stupid people and violent people – very violent people.”
Ingraham suggest that “kind of language” might be to blame for problems with attracting women’s support.
“Well,” Trump said, “Where are we? We’re in the White House, I see. See? OK. So I’m standing here in a sea of people, and we need law and order in this country and women see that with me. You’re never going to have law and order with Biden.”
5. Rudy Giuliani is past it
Ingraham invited Trump to attack Democrats who run New York, over crime and the coronavirus. He did so gladly, lashing out at Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Rudy Giuliani talks to journalists in Washington in July. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
But in yearning for the days when he was just another race-baiting Manhattan billionaire backing a mayor who cracked down hard on crime, he perhaps nodded to those who say that mayor, who somehow became Trump’s personal attorney and fixer, may now have seen better days.
“You need a young version of Rudy Giuliani,” Trump said. “He was a great mayor. He did a great job. I think people are really beginning to – I saw it the other night. He was at the event [the Republican convention, where Giuliani spoke]. People were – ‘Rudy, we love you, Rudy.’ They’re desperate for a younger version.
“We should probably put Rudy back now, he’s doing great. But you need a young version or a younger version of Rudy Giuliani. You need a tough, smart guy.”
Trump also said he had “a very good shot” of winning New York in the presidential election. Most New Yorkers disagree.
Originally published: 2020-09-01 11:25:17