President Donald Trump on Sunday spoke with Fox News anchor Maria Bartiromo — his first TV interview since the election. The conversation was riddled with lies and conspiracy theories.
Bartiromo opened the interview with a question about election fraud, telling Trump, “The facts are on your side.” Trump responded, falsey saying, “This election was a fraud; it was a rigged election.” The Fox anchor then reflected the president’s anger, saying, “This is disgusting and we cannot allow America’s election to be corrupted.”
The interview highlighted that Trump is “unable or unwilling to accept reality,” CNN’s Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter said on “Reliable Sources” Sunday.
Trump spewed misinformation throughout the conversation.
False allegations of voting issues
“We had glitches where they moved thousands of votes from my account to Biden’s account,” Trump falsely told Bartiromo as he continued to bash mail-in voting and incorrectly claimed “dead people were applying to get a ballot.”
In addition to Trump’s unwillingness to acknowledge Joe Biden won the election, Bartiromo’s unchallenged acceptance of Trump’s false narrative also presents a danger to American democracy, said CNN’s Senior Media Reporter Oliver Darcy on “Reliable Sources.”
“News organizations — and I think Fox claims to be one — have a responsibility,” Darcy said. “The president of the United States is trying to overturn the election. …Frankly, there is not much daylight between Maria and [Infowars conspiracy theorist] Alex Jones.”
Bartiromo’s journalism career goes back more than 25 years. She created a name for herself when she launched CNBC’s morning show “Squawk Box” and anchored “The Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo” and “On the Money with Maria Bartiromo.” In 1995, she made history as the first reporter to broadcast live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
But much of the media world has shifted its perspective on her after she went to Fox News.
“Maria Bartiromo, once a feared and acclaimed journalist, best known for working the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, forcing CEOs to tell the truth, now sits behind a desk and invites the president to lie and lie and lie,” Stelter said.
Trump’s disinformation campaign about the election is less a cohesive strategy and more about throwing spaghetti at the wall in the hope that something sticks, said Jonathan Rauch, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution said,
“What he’s running right now is a classic Russian-style disinformation campaign,” Rauch said.
He added that Trump’s intention is to “flood the zone” and “confuse people” by pushing out conspiracy theories, lies and half-truths.
The fact that his conspiracy theories have gained so much traction shows that Trump’s strategy has been effective at gaining support from Republicans — if not for overturning the election result. When it comes to Trump’s skills in this area, Rauch said, “I think he’s better than Putin.”
Rauch added that President-elect Joe Biden has done a good job of “not rising to the bait of every single conspiracy that’s thrown out there.”
‘I came up with vaccines’
Nearly an hour into the interview, Trump finally discussed the coronavirus pandemic that continues to spiral out of control.
Although America continues to hit new records for coronavirus infections, Trump claimed that the United States is more in control of the pandemic than other nations, a fact belied by America’s higher infection rate than many countries.
“We’re doing better than the rest of the world,” Trump told Bartiromo, speaking about the way the coronavirus has been handled in the United States.
As of Sunday, there are more than 13 million Covid-19 cases in the United States and more than 266,000 people in the United States have died from Covid-19 complications.
Trump also took credit for drug companies’ vaccine trials, which have resulted in far-better-than-expected efficacy rates. The Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” funded some pharmaceutical companies’ research, development and eventual distribution of the vaccine, but some companies with successful vaccine trials — such as Pfizer (PFE) — did not participate in the administration’s program.
“I came up with vaccines that people didn’t think we’d have for five years,” Trump said. In fact, pharmaceutical companies — including Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Novavax — created the vaccines.
Sunday’s interview came after a long streak of silence for Trump. People who work closely with the president have avoided answering questions about the election, avoiding questions about the president’s efforts to overturn the election.