Nicolle Wallace asked Karl to discuss how it felt as a person to be verbally abused by first a nominee for president, then the president himself. It isn't pretty.
April 10, 2020

Jonathan Karl, ABC's White House correspondent, told a story about Donald Trump that illustrated in chilling terms just how many orders of magnitude removed from humanity Trump is. No one, at this stage, should need such illustrations, but if anyone was still wondering the level of narcissism this nation has installed in its top executive branch position, this anecdote will do it for them.

Karl joined Nicolle Wallace on Deadline White House, and she tried to pull back the professional curtain on how it feels on a personal level for a reporter to be attacked by the person they're interviewing.

WALLACE: He called you really something nasty this week, a horrible person or one of the worst. Don't get me like, "It's my job, it doesn't bother me." Do you sweat? Do you feel like, "Oh god, I became the story?" What does it feel like when he insults you to your face?

KARL: Over the past week we've had a couple of blowups. He said, "Don't be a cutie pie." He's called me a wise guy, he's called me a third rate reporter, and then he wagged his finger at me and pronounced that I would never make it. That was just in the course of a week.

WALLACE: What is wrong with him?

KARL: So I write about a particularly explosive incident in the book from the 2015 campaign where he walked out on an interview with me, and after he was away from the cameras, he was backstage at a rally again, he started screaming at me in a way that I had really never been -- I had never felt such anger, certainly not from a news figure who I was covering. He called me a bleeping nasty guy and was -- I mean, over the top. He went out and he gave the speech and then he came back to finish the interview, and Nicolle, he acted like NOTHING had happened. I was still shaken from this experience. I continued on the interview, because I felt it was my job to do the interview, and I believe that intently, it's not about me and him. We don't want to become the story. If I become the story, I have FAILED. It is not about me. So I was really worried about this. The interview had just started. He walked out about three minutes into this interview that was supposed to be a long interview, and he screams at me and then he comes back like nothing has happened. At the end of that interview he says to me, "Do you want to get a picture taken with me?"

WALLACE: Oh, my god.

KARL: I'm thinking, "NO!" I mean, that's the last thing I want to do. I was still like furious about what had happened. But okay, fine, I'll take a picture. The picture's in the book....The picture has Trump grinning ear to ear, just like the happiest expression on his face, and I look like I am just dying to get out of there, not smiling, upset.

No apology, no self-awareness, no concept that his behavior was wildly unprofessional or reflected a glaring social transgression on his part. Adding to the surreal abusiveness was Trump's preening offer to take a picture with Karl. "Shall we memorialize this moment? Where first I stomped on your face, stormed off, came back when I felt better, and expected you to let me finish the interview?"

The world is his boxing ring, and the people in it, merely punching bags.

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