ABC's David Muir misses an opportunity as Trump ventures outside the Fox-verse

A new CNN special, "The Pandemic and the President," lays out the timeline of President Trump's response to the coronavirus crisis. Jake Tapper and Brian Stelter discuss one of the factors: Right-wing media rhetoric that downplayed the virus in early March. "There was this gap... where there could have been serious steps taken to protect the American people," Tapper says.

Posted: May 6, 2020 8:01 PM
Updated: May 6, 2020 8:01 PM

A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

When he sat down to interview President Trump, David Muir had an enormous responsibility on his hands. Muir had been granted Trump's first television interview outside the Fox-verse since the coronavirus pandemic upended American life.

The interview came as the US death toll passed 71,000 in the United States. It came as White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said the April jobs report could show an unemployment rate of 20%. And it came as news emerged that the Trump administration was phasing out the coronavirus task force despite evidence the virus is still ravaging the country.

It also came as Trump spent the preceding day unhinged on Twitter. He rage-tweeted about George Conway ("deranged loser" and "moonface"), floated a murder conspiracy theory about Joe Scarborough, denounced the "Fake News Lamestream Media" ("doing everything possible to hurt and disparage our Country"), and took time out of his day to laud the ratings of Fox News host Greg Gutfeld.

Muir's interview was an opportunity to prosecute Trump on these issues and his conduct amid the crisis. It was an opportunity to ask him important Q's and hold his feet to the fire in a way that isn't done on Fox and can't be done in the briefing room. But Muir missed. The interview didn't elicit any big news. Muir didn't challenge Trump in any meaningful way. And worst of all, Muir allowed the President to float brazen misinformation with no pushback to his 10 million+ viewers.

Here's an example: Muir asked Trump whether Americans will have access to testing as they head back to work. Trump said "they should have no problem," an answer Muir simply accepted. Trump then bashed President Obama, claiming that he had inherited "broken tests" from him. Muir didn't push back on the this falsehood, only asking Trump what he had done during his term to stock the shelves. Trump told Muir that he had "a lot of things going on" in his first three years, claiming he had been impeached for a "total hoax."

Apparently Muir didn't find that answer -- or lack of an answer -- worth interrogating in any way. Instead of grilling Trump further on why he didn't prepare for a pandemic or pointing out that the Ukraine scandal wasn't a "total hoax," Muir took the answer and moved on.

To see Trump float brazen misinfo to Muir and watch him accept the answers was... disappointing to say the least. As CNN's Daniel Dale noted, "A thing about Trump is that he tells the same lies over and over. I have no expectations for 'interviewers' from Fox, but it's not that hard for others who get to talk to him to come prepared and willing to respond with facts." Unfortunately, Muir failed to meet the moment.

Trump emerges from the Fox-verse

While Muir's interview left a lot to be desired, it was evidence that Trump is beginning to carefully emerge from the Fox-verse. Last week he spoke to Reuters. On Tuesday, the New York Post published an interview with him. And, of course, Muir sat down with him for the Tuesday evening interview on "World News." It seems to be a clear effort to put the President in front of a swath of the country that does not watch Fox News.

That said, while Trump is doing interviews with non-Fox press, it's notable who he is choosing to do them with. If I had to guess, he'll continue to avoid tough interviewers like George Stephanopoulos or Jake Tapper. It's a smart strategy for the White House. They'll put Trump in front of big network audiences that reach crucial independents, while simultaneously being able to say that they are not only appearing on Fox...

Launches repugnant attack on CBS reporters

Speaking of the New York Post's interview with Trump... Trump lamented to the Murdoch-owned tabloid about CBS News correspondents Paula Reid and Weijia Jiang, saying that they aren't like Donna Reed, the actress who played a '50s housewife on TV. Both Reid and Jiang fired back at Trump on Twitter. "Fact check: True," Reid tweeted. Jiang noted that Trump has told her to be "nice and easy" three of the four last times she has asked him a question.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 49063

Reported Deaths: 2732
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11760689
Lake5276246
Elkhart340255
Allen2835133
St. Joseph200169
Cass16429
Hamilton1608101
Hendricks1425100
Johnson1296118
Porter76738
Tippecanoe7359
Clark66844
Madison66764
Bartholomew59145
Vanderburgh5876
LaPorte58326
Howard58058
Kosciusko5624
Marshall5016
Noble48528
LaGrange4779
Jackson4733
Boone45443
Delaware45252
Hancock45236
Shelby43125
Floyd38444
Morgan32731
Monroe30928
Montgomery29720
Grant29626
Clinton2902
Dubois2886
Henry28216
White26610
Decatur25432
Lawrence24825
Dearborn23823
Vigo2388
Warrick22729
Harrison21622
Greene19032
Miami1862
Jennings17712
Putnam1708
DeKalb1634
Scott1628
Daviess14817
Wayne1436
Orange13623
Perry1359
Steuben1302
Franklin1268
Ripley1247
Jasper1232
Wabash1142
Carroll1102
Fayette1037
Newton9910
Gibson982
Whitley975
Starke943
Randolph804
Huntington782
Jefferson762
Wells751
Fulton721
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox640
Clay604
Rush583
Owen501
Adams491
Benton480
Posey450
Sullivan451
Spencer441
Brown421
Blackford392
Crawford320
Fountain322
Tipton311
Switzerland280
Parke240
Martin220
Ohio180
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 60181

Reported Deaths: 2991
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin10879439
Cuyahoga8277383
Hamilton6287206
Lucas2836303
Marion273639
Summit2241207
Pickaway220541
Montgomery220131
Mahoning1861239
Butler167447
Columbiana130960
Stark1156113
Lorain106468
Trumbull99774
Warren89525
Clark7809
Delaware61715
Fairfield60517
Tuscarawas58510
Belmont55522
Medina54332
Lake52920
Licking52012
Miami47531
Portage46159
Wood45251
Ashtabula43744
Clermont4317
Geauga41443
Wayne36552
Richland3515
Allen32841
Mercer2909
Greene2879
Darke25326
Erie25022
Holmes2453
Huron2282
Madison2029
Ottawa16024
Washington14020
Sandusky13814
Crawford1365
Putnam13215
Ross1323
Coshocton1302
Hardin12312
Morrow1181
Auglaize1074
Jefferson922
Union921
Monroe8917
Muskingum891
Hancock831
Preble801
Athens791
Hocking798
Guernsey763
Lawrence740
Williams722
Shelby704
Clinton680
Logan651
Fulton630
Ashland621
Carroll603
Wyandot605
Brown591
Scioto540
Defiance533
Knox531
Fayette480
Highland461
Champaign441
Van Wert420
Perry371
Seneca352
Henry320
Jackson260
Paulding260
Adams241
Pike240
Vinton222
Gallia201
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Noble110
Unassigned00
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