If Trump thought his town hall was going to be easy, he didn’t account for Savannah Guthrie
We still don’t know who “won” last night’s dueling town hall events: Donald Trump on NBC, and Joe Biden on ABC. What we do know is that the American public, who missed out on a debate between the candidates because Trump refused to participate virtually after his recent coronavirus diagnosis, were forced to choose which candidate they wanted to watch during the simultaneous events, and that’s a major disservice to the public. Regardless, if Trump thought he was getting an easy way to boost his floundering campaign after ditching the debate, he forgot to account for one thing: Savannah Guthrie.
Amid hard criticism toward NBC for scheduling Trump’s town hall at the same time as Biden’s, Guthrie has been widely praised for her job moderating the Trump event. She was tough, giving the president one of the most intense series of questions he’s had to answer to during his tenure as president.
That's the @SavannahGuthrie I know: the best prepared & relentless in pressing for answers:
"Despite fears that the event would amount to a free promotion for Trump’s campaign, it ended up being one of the toughest grillings he has faced as president" https://t.co/i8r61sG8ku
— Carol Leonnig (@CarolLeonnig) October 16, 2020
Guthrie asked direct, pointed questions about Trump’s health; his handling of the pandemic; his failure to disavow QAnon, the conspiracy campaign; and more. She also fact-checked him in real time, pushing back when his answers contained falsehoods and outright lies.
But the moment that people can’t seem to stop talking about today came when Guthrie was questioning Trump about QAnon, the far-right conspiracy group (you know, the one that’s convinced democrats are running some kind of satanic pedophilia ring and only Trump can stop them?) that deeply supports the president. Numerous times, Trump has retweeted QAnon theories, despite claiming over and over that he knows “nothing” about the group. One of his retweets was for a patently ridiculous theory that Barack Obama and Joe Biden didn’t pull off their operation to kill Osama Bin Laden, but actually used a body double to fake the Al Qaeda leader’s death.
Every SEAL from the UBL Mission is alive while you are reading this. https://t.co/6mvAh37Cep
— Robert J. O'Neill (@mchooyah) October 14, 2020
Asked by Guthrie why he would retweet such a theory, Trump responded, “That was a retweet. That was an opinion of somebody and that was a retweet. I’ll put it out there. People can decide for themselves. I don’t take a position.”
Guthrie pushed back, “You’re the president. You’re not someone’s crazy uncle who can retweet whatever.” Mary Trump, the president’s niece, had thoughts on that.
Actually . . . https://t.co/tdmNIjBP4j
— Mary L Trump (@MaryLTrump) October 16, 2020
Trump continued to defend his position, adding, “No, no, that was a retweet. I do a lot of retweets. And frankly, because the media is so fake and so corrupt, if I didn’t have social media… I wouldn’t be able to get the word out.”
Proving, finally, that she had no time for this bullshit, Guthrie answered, “The word is false,” before moving on.
The unfortunate thing is that, because of the format of the competing town halls, last night is unlikely to have influenced any undecided voters. A final debate is scheduled for Oct. 22. We’ll see if Trump shows up to that one.