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This Is the Only Acceptable Way to Interview a Trump Representative

Major media outlets often have a hard time interviewing Donald Trump’s spokespeople.

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As we’ve seen time and again, it’s those Trump representatives’ job to defend him, no matter what awful things he does or what patently ridiculous things come out of his mouth. That’s why Kellyanne Conway tries to redefine words on the fly, and why Sarah Huckabee Sanders will twist context and just blatantly lie to a roomful of reporters nearly every day.

And for the most part, reporters have had trouble countering this total disregard for the truth. If they challenge him and his spokespeople, Trump tweets about how biased, fake, and unfair they are, and enough people will believe him that it only reinforces the Fox News-watching public’s distrust of those journalists. In turn, those journalists and outlets then tend to back off of calling out Trump’s lies, for fear of appearing biased, when all they’d really be doing is stating facts.

Basically, it goes: Trump lies; reporters say he’s lying; Trump says the media is attacking him; the public is primed to believe Trump’s next round of lies over the journalists covering them; journalists get perpetually less aggressive in calling those lies out; Trump wins in redefining our reality.

In a new episode of Al Jazeera’s UpFront, Mehdi Hasan demonstrates what most of us wish all reporters would do when interviewing a representative of the Trump administration. Talking to Steven Rogers, an adviser on Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, Hasan challenges his blanket support of the president using—get this—facts. He just asks Rogers to state the facts that would back up various Trump claims, then debunks them with actual facts and their sources.

Donald Trump said there were riots in sanctuary cities inCalifornia. He said U.S. Steel announced plans to build six to seven new steel facilities. These sorts of claims—which Trump doesn’t usually just say once, but repeats and turns into major talking points—are easily fact-checked, and when Hasan did fact-check them and present the reality, with quotes from primary sources like the spokesman for the California Police Chief’s Association or U.S. Steel, Rogers had nowhere to go.

He tried to get personal, as Trump would, and call bias. He said his support of Trump is valid but that Hasan just “didn’t hear what [he] wanted to hear.” But Hasan just wanted to hear the truth, and refused to concede that point.

The short clip above is beautiful, but if you have time, give the whole interview a watch. The clip is basically the lightning round of a 13-minute segment where Hasan refuses to let a single lie—from Maxine Waters inspiring “terrorism” to the immigration “invasion”—go unchallenged.

If you’re in the market for a new political podcast, you can also check out Hasan’s Deconstructed.

(image: YouTube)

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Author

Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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