During a CNN appearance on Sunday, CBS News contributor Bob Schieffer asserted that President Donald Trump "actually sounded presidential" because he did not go off script during his speech to Muslim leaders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
"Today, you saw a very different President Trump," Schieffer said following the speech. "He actually sounded presidential. You may agree or disagree with what he said, but he sounded like a president. He laid out his vision. He called for help for those in the Muslim world. He was a much different kind of presentation."
"This went over very well. Mainly because he stayed on script," he added. "No tweets today, but a dignified speech."
Schieffer went on to suggest that Trump "helped himself today" with regard to the investigation into Russia's hacking of the U.S. election.
"He didn't sound like the guy at the end of the bar popping off," Schieffer explained. "He sounded like someone who actually thought about what he was going to say before he said it," ignoring the fact that the speech was written in advance by adviser Stephen Miller (though uncharacteristically much less offensive than his usual anti-Muslim rhetoric) and fed into the teleprompter.
CNN host John Berman noted that Schieffer's comments could be viewed as "normalizing the president."
"You're saying that because he met this very low bar for not sounding foolish, he was in fact presidential," Berman said.
"I'm not trying to normalize him in any way," Schieffer replied. "I'm trying to do what reporters do. And that's report and try to emphasize what I think was important."
The Washington Post points out that Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia is unlikely to undo the damage he's done by demonize the Muslim world.
He's a kleptocrat who gave state secrets to a hostile foreign power, but he's also a white man reading a teleprompter, so... "presidential"
— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) May 21, 2017