Last night, President Trump went on ABC News with George Stephanopoulos to do a town hall event. They sat down and supposedly random questioners asked their inquiries while Bill Clinton’s former press guru moderated. As you can imagine, that was a recipe for rank bias.
Almost all the questions ended up coming from highly partisan, Democrat operatives. Some of them were even self-ascribed socialists. That’s how ridiculous it got at times.
That led Laura Ingraham to take to her show to criticize the event.
Fox News is calling the ABC Town Hall an “ambush” pic.twitter.com/dGMtCkxct8
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) September 16, 2020
With all due respect to Laura, this was not an ambush. An ambush is something you unknowingly walk into, not expecting what is about to happen. Did anyone think this ABC News town hall would go any differently? When it was first announced, it was pretty universally shouted that this was a bad idea.
And look, people who hate Trump will rush to say this is all his fault and try to use it as a dunk against him, but that’s not how campaigns work. Trump is not answering phones and setting up town halls with George Stephanopoulos. Trump is the President of the United States. He’s trusting his press team to not put him in positions like this.
That begs the question of why this was ever put on the calendar in the first place? When Trump did his interview with Dave Portnoy, I said this at the time:
As a larger political issue, this interview was gold for Trump. He sounded more collected and relatable than he has in a long time. Trump should take a page out of Obama’s playbook and do more of these types of interviews with non-combative figures. He doesn’t need to go on ABC News and get grilled by partisan hacks. That does nothing to help him at all and he doesn’t owe them anything.
Oddly enough, my mention of ABC News there was just random. I could have inserted any of the broadcast networks there and the point would have remained. Yet, Trump did end up on ABC News, and his reward is yet another negative news cycle and giving the left out of context clips to run with.
Honestly, I don’t get the thought process. You can make this same criticism when it came to encouraging Trump to sit down with Bob Woodward. Why would anyone think that’s a good idea? Woodward is an absolute hack who has been out to get the President from the word go. Those are the kinds of interviews you laugh in their face of and say no to. Same for this town hall.
Is Joe Biden doing town halls with Dana Perino on Fox News? Of course he’s not. Heck, he’s not even willing to do a town hall with ABC News, but that’s smart. You don’t need to put a candidate who’s already not known as a good communicator in unscripted situations into a situation like that. As I noted, Trump with Portnoy was perfect. There are plenty of those avenues to mine. There are tons of outlets that would love an exclusive interview or to host a town hall that will actually do a fair job of it. Heck, go on Joe Rogan’s show without Biden. But giving Stephanopoulos the time of day is playing into the hands of a guy who doesn’t deserve one second with the President.
That’s my opinion on how he should handle the media, and it’s, of course, debatable. Some may say this was a good look for Trump and that’s fine. But it certainly wasn’t an “ambush.” Trump’s team had to know what they were getting into.
Whatever advisor keeps setting this stuff up needs to be shown the door, in my view. This race is too close and the stakes are too high. Media bias is real. Make these outlets sweat from the corner. They shouldn’t get a spot in the ring after the way they’ve behaved the last four years.
(Please follow me on Twitter! @bonchieredstate)