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Explained: Why President Donald Trump walked out of a ’60 Minutes’ interview

The testy exchange, the full coverage of which has been made available on the CBS website, comes less than 10 days before the November 3 election, in which opinion polls are predicting a win for Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: October 29, 2020 8:44:43 am
President Donald Trump speaks during an interview conducted by Lesley Stahl in the White House, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. (CBSNews/60 MINUTES via AP)

US President Trump last Tuesday stormed out of an interview with veteran journalist Leslie Stahl for the popular American television programme ’60 Minutes’. On Sunday, the CBS network aired the entire segment, but a short clip that shows the US President abruptly ending the recording and walking away has been viewed over 6.6 million times.

In the clip, Trump is seen visibly irritated with Stahl’s line of questioning, and the testy exchange ended with the president cutting short the interview.

Donald Trump vs ’60 Minutes’

Last Tuesday, Trump agreed to sit down for an interview with Stahl, a reporter for the CBS network’s widely popular ‘60 Minutes’ show since 1991, and who has done televised interviews with Trump since his election in 2016. Trump’s interview was to be followed by one with Vice-President Mike Pence, also to be taken by Stahl, and the two recordings were to be released on Sunday along with same-format interviews of Democratic nominees Joe Biden and Kamala Harris taken by another reporter.

When Trump and Stahl began the interview, the mood was conciliatory, but things heated up as the journalist brought up topics such as the country’s coronavirus response, healthcare and racial strife. Then, after about 45 minutes of filming, Trump said, “Well, I think we have enough. I think we have enough of an interview here. OK? That’s enough. Let’s go. Let’s go,” and cut short the next “walk and talk” section of the interview that was planned with Stahl outside the White House building.

Stahl then directly proceeded to interview Vice-President Pence; this recording proceeded without interruption.

After leaving the interview, Trump took to Twitter, saying, “I am pleased to inform you that, for the sake of accuracy in reporting, I am considering posting my interview with Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes, PRIOR TO AIRTIME! This will be done so that everybody can get a glimpse of what a FAKE and BIASED interview is all about…”

“…Everyone should compare this terrible Electoral Intrusion with the recent interviews of Sleepy Joe Biden!” Trump continued, referring to his Democratic rival. Trump even went on to post a 6-second clip of Stahl on Twitter, and said, “Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes not wearing a mask in the White House after her interview with me. Much more to come.”

The official video released by CBS News, however, contradicts the President’s claim, and shows Stahl wearing a mask when she met him.

Then on Thursday, Trump carried out his threat, and posted a video of the interview that he had taped to his blog and Facebook channel. “Watch her constant interruptions & anger. Compare my full, flowing and ‘magnificently brilliant’ answers to their ‘Q’s’,” the Facebook video description says.

The CBS network reacted by issuing a statement that called Trump’s decision to release the video “unprecedented”, and defended Stahl, calling her “one of the premier correspondents in America”.

The testy exchange, the full coverage of which has been made available on the CBS website, comes less than 10 days before the November 3 election, in which opinion polls are predicting a win for Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden.

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