President Trump has plenty of reasons to be suspicious of liberal reporters who don’t even try to hide the fact that they despise him and would like nothing more than to bring him down.
Which brings us to someone named Olivia Nuzzi who writes for New York magazine. If they gave out Pulitzers for snarky questions, she surely would get one.
At the president's daily nationally televised coronavirus briefing on Monday, Nuzzi got in the last question of the day.
"If an American President loses more Americans over the course of six weeks than died in the entirety of the Vietnam War, does he deserve to be re-elected?"
Did she think he’d say “Gee Olivia, that’s a great question. I never thought of it that way. I guess I did ‘lose more Americans’ in just a few weeks than ‘died in the entirety of the Vietnam War.’ I guess I am complicit in so many needless deaths that I don’t deserve to be re-elected. Thanks so much asking me about that.”
Or was she hoping he’d say, “Yeah, a lot of people died on my watch … and no, I don’t take responsibility … so yes, I do think I should be re-elected.”
She says she wasn’t trying to be provocative, that it was a legitimate question. I don't believe her.
I’ve been a TV journalist for a long time. I know how the game is played. Reporters – especially liberal reporters in the Age of Trump -- like showing off for their friends in the media. Look at me, Olivia Nuzzi was saying, see how tough I was on the president we all hate.
And she was probably hoping the president would blow his top and call her “fake news” and a lot worse. That would get a lot of play on cable TV and raise her profile – and maybe get her a job offer from CNN, MSNBC or the New York Times.
Her question was the coronavirus version of “When did you stop beating your wife.” Any answer is the wrong answer.
Ari Fleischer, a press secretary in the George W. Bush administration, took to Twitter and said what a lot of us were thinking:
“It’s clown questions like this that can make the briefing a waste of time. The only point of that question was to provoke. Not learn anything new. Not provide information to viewers. The point was to get under Trump’s skin. Good to see potus rose above and didn’t take the bait.”
He did rise above it. The same Donald Trump who has lashed out at reporters because they asked him questions he didn’t like, stayed calm and didn’t take the bait.
Instead of belittling her, he simply said that experts thought there’d be a lot more deaths but that never came to pass. And he gave credit to his team.
It was a very un-Trump like response given the incendiary nature of the question.
But he might have added that we’re talking about a pandemic, one that started in China and spread to the rest of the world. How exactly, he might have asked Olivia Nuzzi, did I “lose” all those lives?
As for why so many Americans hate the press: Olivia Nuzzi’s “clown question” in the Rose Garden the other evening is one big reason.