Savannah Guthrie not only showed off her journalistic steaks at NBC News City Hall with President Donald Trump. She changed the subject about her bosses.
NBC got involved in the event on Thursday, under widespread criticism that it was scheduled at the same time as the ABC City Hall with Democratic opponent Joe Biden. NBC has been accused of rewarding Trump for rejecting the debate committee’s plan to hold the second debate in practice.
This was quickly forgotten when the president sat opposite Guthrie, who asked him specifically when he last tested positive for COVID-1
The graduate of Georgetown Law School had apparently done her homework, seemingly prepared for any answer. When the president recited statistics from a study on the effectiveness of masks in the spread of COVID-19, Guthrie also read it and opposed it.
As a host on Today, Guthrie knows how important time is and how to stop an interview. This background also teaches how to crystallize what the audience thinks in a simple way, as seen in its most quoted moment.
She was disbelieving when, when asked why Trump was retorting a false conspiracy theory that US special forces had not actually killed Osama bin Laden, he said he “just let him in there” to let people decide for themselves.
“I don’t understand,” Guthrie said. “You’re the president.” You’re not like someone’s crazy uncle who can just retouch everything. “
In the same way, Guthrie described the theory popularized online by QAnon that Democrats run a satanic pedophile ring and that Trump is the savior who wants to stop them, and asked why he did not condemn him. Trump said he knew nothing about it.
“I just told you,” she said.
Just because she says something doesn’t mean it’s true, the president said.
“There is no satanic pedophile cult,” she said. “Don’t you know that?”
Trump has “submitted” the toughest public figure for an interview, said Axios reporter Jonathan Swan, who, along with Chris Wallace and now Fox News’s Guthrie, received the most praise from all television journalists for taking him on this election cycle.
“The biggest challenge for President Trump is that this is never a linear conversation,” Swan said. “It’s like driving a bronze. Elaborating the questions doesn’t really matter because he answers topics. “
That requires a lot of homework, both to know the facts and to predict how Trump will respond, he said. Even then, it is possible to be so absorbed in fact-checking that it disrupts the flow of conversations, he said.
When Guthrie asked Trump about his personal finances and taxes, the president tried to interrupt the conversation by saying what had happened since 2016 that he could not talk about it because he had been audited. Guthrie said there was no law preventing anyone from being audited to discuss their taxes, and insisted, “To whom do you owe $ 421 million?” She asked.
She jumped when, during a discussion about events in the White House where no masks were worn, the president mentioned how he had been touched by people at a reception for relatives of military members killed in the line of duty.
“Do you believe that a grieving military family gave you COVID?” She asked.
She spent an unusual amount of time in direct interviews, given that the format required questions from the audience to dominate the event. She also followed the audience’s questions: When Trump spoke about health care and maintaining protection for existing conditions, Guthrie pointed out that his administration was trying in court to eliminate this.
A look online gave an illustration of Guthrie’s effectiveness. Words such as “condescending,” “furious,” “argued,” and “bully” were used on social media by supporters of the president. The memes popped up with Guthrie’s face, made to look like a vampire or a devil.
“Why does anyone take Savannah Guthrie seriously?” Tweets conservative talk show host Buck Sexton. “She was clownish and squeaky last night. Just awful. “
Before appearing in Florida on Friday, Trump called his experience with Guthrie “little potatoes.”
“If you can’t deal with Savannah, you can’t deal with Putin and President Xi and Kim Jong Un,” he said.
But she obviously stayed with him. He re-interviewed the second rally in Macon, Georgia: “Last night she was out of action, I mean, I think. She was not online. ”
Nielsen said Biden City Hall reached 14.1 million people on ABC between 8pm and 9pm on Friday afternoon, and Trump had 13.5 million combined in NBC, CNBC and MSNBC.
A spokesman for Trump’s campaign, Tim Murtow, said that although the commission-sponsored debate was canceled on Thursday, “it happened anyway.” He said Guthrie had played an opponent in the debate and Biden.
Still, announcing Guthrie as one of the winners on political television on Thursday, Vox’s website said its rapid line of questioning, repulsion and fact-checking “probably made the White House want to have just debated.”
In addition to giving NBC News executives a respite from responding to a call from online critics for a boycott, Guthrie helped restore the honor of the Today show. Her former partner, Matt Lauer, received widespread criticism in 2016 for his interrogations during interviews with Trump and Hillary Clinton.
NBC News said it would not make Guthrie or network executives available to speak Friday about the performance.
More than anyone, Axios’ Swan understands the high stakes involved in interviews with Trump.
“There’s no doubt, because the screening of every interview he does is so intense that you can do a lot of damage if you’re not well prepared,” he said.