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ABC's David Muir misses an opportunity as Trump ventures outside the Fox-verse

A new CNN special, "The Pandemic and the President," lays out the timeline of President Trump's response to the coronavirus crisis. Jake Tapper and Brian Stelter discuss one of the factors: Right-wing media rhetoric that downplayed the virus in early March. "There was this gap... where there could have been serious steps taken to protect the American people," Tapper says.

Posted: May 6, 2020 7:01 PM
Updated: May 6, 2020 7:01 PM

A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

When he sat down to interview President Trump, David Muir had an enormous responsibility on his hands. Muir had been granted Trump's first television interview outside the Fox-verse since the coronavirus pandemic upended American life.

The interview came as the US death toll passed 71,000 in the United States. It came as White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said the April jobs report could show an unemployment rate of 20%. And it came as news emerged that the Trump administration was phasing out the coronavirus task force despite evidence the virus is still ravaging the country.

It also came as Trump spent the preceding day unhinged on Twitter. He rage-tweeted about George Conway ("deranged loser" and "moonface"), floated a murder conspiracy theory about Joe Scarborough, denounced the "Fake News Lamestream Media" ("doing everything possible to hurt and disparage our Country"), and took time out of his day to laud the ratings of Fox News host Greg Gutfeld.

Muir's interview was an opportunity to prosecute Trump on these issues and his conduct amid the crisis. It was an opportunity to ask him important Q's and hold his feet to the fire in a way that isn't done on Fox and can't be done in the briefing room. But Muir missed. The interview didn't elicit any big news. Muir didn't challenge Trump in any meaningful way. And worst of all, Muir allowed the President to float brazen misinformation with no pushback to his 10 million+ viewers.

Here's an example: Muir asked Trump whether Americans will have access to testing as they head back to work. Trump said "they should have no problem," an answer Muir simply accepted. Trump then bashed President Obama, claiming that he had inherited "broken tests" from him. Muir didn't push back on the this falsehood, only asking Trump what he had done during his term to stock the shelves. Trump told Muir that he had "a lot of things going on" in his first three years, claiming he had been impeached for a "total hoax."

Apparently Muir didn't find that answer -- or lack of an answer -- worth interrogating in any way. Instead of grilling Trump further on why he didn't prepare for a pandemic or pointing out that the Ukraine scandal wasn't a "total hoax," Muir took the answer and moved on.

To see Trump float brazen misinfo to Muir and watch him accept the answers was... disappointing to say the least. As CNN's Daniel Dale noted, "A thing about Trump is that he tells the same lies over and over. I have no expectations for 'interviewers' from Fox, but it's not that hard for others who get to talk to him to come prepared and willing to respond with facts." Unfortunately, Muir failed to meet the moment.

Trump emerges from the Fox-verse

While Muir's interview left a lot to be desired, it was evidence that Trump is beginning to carefully emerge from the Fox-verse. Last week he spoke to Reuters. On Tuesday, the New York Post published an interview with him. And, of course, Muir sat down with him for the Tuesday evening interview on "World News." It seems to be a clear effort to put the President in front of a swath of the country that does not watch Fox News.

That said, while Trump is doing interviews with non-Fox press, it's notable who he is choosing to do them with. If I had to guess, he'll continue to avoid tough interviewers like George Stephanopoulos or Jake Tapper. It's a smart strategy for the White House. They'll put Trump in front of big network audiences that reach crucial independents, while simultaneously being able to say that they are not only appearing on Fox...

Launches repugnant attack on CBS reporters

Speaking of the New York Post's interview with Trump... Trump lamented to the Murdoch-owned tabloid about CBS News correspondents Paula Reid and Weijia Jiang, saying that they aren't like Donna Reed, the actress who played a '50s housewife on TV. Both Reid and Jiang fired back at Trump on Twitter. "Fact check: True," Reid tweeted. Jiang noted that Trump has told her to be "nice and easy" three of the four last times she has asked him a question.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 295295

Reported Deaths: 6724
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19672230
Hinds18799386
Harrison16710278
Rankin12685264
Jackson12592226
Lee9687160
Madison9457199
Jones7962146
Forrest7208136
Lauderdale6833226
Lowndes6022137
Lamar588080
Lafayette5733113
Washington5218130
Bolivar4609123
Oktibbeha441393
Panola430394
Pearl River4167130
Warren4129114
Pontotoc408869
Marshall403192
Monroe3989126
Union395374
Neshoba3807168
Lincoln3541102
Hancock347374
Leflore3375118
Sunflower318386
Tate302474
Pike300195
Scott293870
Alcorn291861
Itawamba289975
Yazoo289262
Tippah278765
Copiah277857
Coahoma277568
Simpson274878
Prentiss269758
Wayne253841
Marion252678
Leake252471
Covington248879
Grenada247377
Adams234377
George231745
Newton229652
Winston221675
Jasper213445
Tishomingo212365
Attala206569
Chickasaw201151
Holmes182270
Clay179150
Stone172429
Tallahatchie170539
Clarke169371
Calhoun157828
Smith152731
Yalobusha144836
Greene127633
Walthall124140
Noxubee122829
Montgomery122438
Perry121634
Lawrence120321
Carroll118225
Amite111533
Webster110630
Jefferson Davis101731
Tunica99023
Claiborne98429
Benton93324
Humphreys92827
Kemper90223
Quitman77114
Franklin76119
Choctaw69516
Jefferson62527
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 493769

Reported Deaths: 9931
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson710731374
Mobile36139727
Madison32425455
Tuscaloosa24184410
Montgomery22586500
Shelby21968215
Baldwin19758283
Lee14967153
Morgan13667251
Calhoun13300286
Etowah13184319
Marshall11262209
Houston10104261
Elmore9385185
Limestone9363134
Cullman8897181
St. Clair8827223
Lauderdale8607211
DeKalb8459175
Talladega7523163
Walker6524255
Jackson6495102
Autauga627091
Blount6102127
Colbert6004118
Coffee5249102
Dale4642107
Russell404930
Franklin399177
Covington3960106
Chilton3876100
Escambia377672
Tallapoosa3588142
Clarke343650
Chambers3413110
Dallas3403141
Pike293472
Lawrence283484
Marion281995
Winston246867
Bibb245060
Geneva239970
Marengo236455
Pickens224654
Barbour211651
Hale210568
Fayette200756
Butler196866
Henry182441
Cherokee177038
Monroe166139
Randolph163740
Washington156535
Crenshaw144854
Clay144454
Macon142043
Cleburne137839
Lamar132833
Lowndes131151
Wilcox121825
Bullock116936
Conecuh106724
Perry105627
Sumter98531
Coosa88923
Greene88232
Choctaw55123
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