President Donald Trump gave an “impromptu” interview to the New York Times on Thursday and it’s as incoherent and self-aggrandizing as you might expect.
At the Grill Room at Trump’s golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida, the president and Times reporter Michael S. Schmidt talk about the tax bill, Russia, Hillary Clinton and North Korea.
A few key quotes:
“I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A. I know the details of health care better than most, better than most.”
“I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.”
“I like very much President Xi. He treated me better than anybody’s ever been treated in the history of China.”
Many people were confused and troubled by Trump’s comments, which is the appropriate reaction. But there was also back and forth on Twitter about how Schmidt interviewed Trump.
You can see him try to keep the president on topic, but not challenge him on facts — and there was a lot to challenge. Some were upset that Trump wasn’t grilled about his basic understanding of tax policy, health care, and that whole North Korea situation.
I understand the strategic decision not to get into the weeds with Trump, but just one time I want a reporter to ask him what a copay is
— Dylan Scott (@dylanlscott) December 29, 2017
Literally all a journalist covering 45 needs to do right now to be a hero is ask him point-blank how he thinks taxes work
— Andi Zeisler (@andizeisler) December 29, 2017
Others defended the “just let him talk” tactic, arguing Trump could have shut the interview down or walked away if he felt threatened.
1. For those complaining about Schmidt’s interview with Trump, what people need to understand is when you’re with POTUS in a situation that is unusual or unexpected, yes, you can grill him but he will simply get up and walk away. It is better to ask questions and let him speak.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) December 29, 2017
Trump talking unfiltered has historically been vastly more revealing than jousting matches where he shuts down. The most revealing and significant things he’s said in the last year were in these kinds of interviews.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) December 29, 2017
Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star argued it’s not so black and white — but the media should be a little tougher when it comes to not letting Trump say things that are obviously not true.
You don’t have to be angry about it or mean about it. Just politely interject and ask for evidence here and there, or politely tell him he’s wrong on this and that point. I think we’re well past the point where his unfiltered, uncorrected ramble-boasts have much value.
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) December 29, 2017
Regardless, the interview is worth a read, if only to be reminded and terrified of how little Trump seems to understand policies that will affect more than 300 million Americans, and people across the globe.