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New York Times' Trump Interview: Cotton Candy Fluff

The New York Times interview with Trump was more cotton candy puffery than hard-hitting journalism.
New York Times' Trump Interview: Cotton Candy Fluff
This cotton candy has more substance than the New York Times Trump interview. Image from: Roco Julie (CC BY-SA 2.0

The New York Times released the transcript for its interview with Donald Trump yesterday. Now that we can see the full text, rather than just quips in tweets, we can see that the New York Times wasn't as hard-hitting and non-compromising as we first thought.

The NYT staff all but surrounded Trump in cotton candy.

One problem could have been too many journalists from too many interests, so we didn't get a cohesive result. I suspect though that a cohesive response from Trump wouldn't have happened, regardless.

The only time Trump became animated in the interview was when he chastised the journalists present for actually doing their job. Oh, and when he was bragging about his business acumen, his businesses, and all of his beautiful properties.

As for demonstrating that Trump has a good grasp on what's going on, you can also see in one particular exchange how grossly uninformed Trump is.

MICHAEL BARBARO, political reporter: Mr. President-elect, can I press you a little further on what structures you would put in place to keep the presidency and the company separate and to avoid things that, for example, were reported in The Times in the past 24 hours about meeting with leaders of Brexit about wind farms …

TRUMP: About meeting with who?

BARBARO: Leaders of Brexit about wind farms that might interfere with the views of your golf course and how to keep, what structures, can you talk about that meeting, by the way?

TRUMP: Was I involved with the wind farms recently? Or, not that I know of. I mean, I have a problem with wind …

BARBARO: But you brought it up in the meeting, didn’t you?

TRUMP: Which meeting? I don’t know. I might have.

BARBARO: With leaders of Brexit.

MANY VOICES: With Farage.

TRUMP: Oh, I see. I might have brought it up.

He didn't even know to associate Farage with Brexit. He met with the man recently, and he didn't know know that Farage was heavily associated with Brexit.

And then look at the next statement, about windmills.

First of all, we don’t make the windmills in the United States. They’re made in Germany and Japan. They’re made out of massive amounts of steel, which goes into the atmosphere, whether it’s in our country or not, it goes into the atmosphere.

The windmills go into the atmosphere. A man who builds huge steel skyscrapers is concerned because the steel in the windmills going into the atmosphere...is a bad thing?

Why did no one challenge Trump on this and other nonsensical answers? Isn't that a journalists' job?

The biggest problem in the entire interview, though, was NY Times' Arthur Sulzberger. He was acting more like a Chief of Staff than Priebus. In particular, when Trump brought up his infrastructure plan—which we know will be nothing but an attempt to privatize our transportation system—Sulzberger interjected a comment that deserves condemnation.

TRUMP: I don’t even think it’s a big part of it. It’s going to be a big number but I think I am doing things that are more important than infrastructure, but infrastructure is still a part of it, and we’re talking about a very large-scale infrastructure bill. And that’s not a very Republican thing — I didn’t even know that, frankly.

SULZBERGER: It worked for Franklin Roosevelt.

No, Sulzberger, not like Franklin Roosevelt. FDR created jobs programs that worked on infrastructure, but the emphasis was on jobs, not infrastructure. His programs certainly weren't focused on finding ways for rich corporations to make obscene profits on creating toll-paying transportation structures.

Then there was this exchange:

JOSEPH KAHN, managing editor: On Syria, would you mind, you said you have a very strong idea about what to do with the Syria conflict, can you describe that for us?

TRUMP: I can only say this: We have to end that craziness that’s going on in Syria. One of the things that was told to me — can I say this off the record, or is everything on the record?

SULZBERGER: No, if you want to …

TRUMP: I don’t want to violate, I don’t want to violate a …

SULZBERGER: If you want to go off the record, we have agreed you can go off the record. Ladies and gentlemen, we are off the record for this moment.

[Trump speaks off the record.]

TRUMP: Now we can go back on.

One of two things happened. Either Trump exposed classified information to the New York Times staff, or the so-called "open interview" was anything but. If it's the former, then that's information we need to know. If Trump is going to expose classified information that readily, we need to know it.

Regardless, allowing Trump to go off the record whenever he wanted in this interview wasn't all that much better than the TV networks letting Trump call all the shots on Monday.

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