Savannah Guthrie Is Being Praised for Her Skillful Interview with Donald Trump
The Today show co-host moderated a controversial town hall with the president on NBC.
NBC News's decision to host a town hall with President Donald Trump may have drawn backlash, but during the event on Thursday evening, Today show co-host Savannah Guthrie won praise for how she moderated the conversation with the president.
During the town hall, Guthrie skillfully pressed the president on issues such as his stance on face masks amid the pandemic, his tax records, and the rightwing conspiracy theory QAnon. A key moment centered on Guthrie asking Trump to explain a QAnon tweet he shared with a false claim that Joe Biden had a navy Seal team killed.
“That was a retweet, I’ll put it out there. People can decide for themselves,” Trump said.
"I don’t get that," Guthrie replied. "You’re the president, not someone’s crazy uncle."
"You're the President! You're not someone's crazy uncle who can retweet whatever." Savannah Guthrie used her skills as a former litigator to interrogate President Trump during NBC's town hall. https://t.co/F2bO9wjWJS pic.twitter.com/i8semU7q3G
— CNN (@CNN) October 16, 2020
Guthrie's performance at the town hall was widely praised, with Slate calling it Trump's "toughest grilling in years." Vox called it "the Trump interview we've been wanting for years," while the Washington Post gave Guthrie credit for repeatedly challenging the president’s evasions.
Following the event, the Trump campaign released a statement, reading, "President Trump soundly defeated NBC’s Savannah Guthrie in her role as debate opponent and Joe Biden surrogate. President Trump masterfully handled Guthrie’s attacks and interacted warmly and effectively with the voters in the room."
Trump campaign statement: "President Trump soundly defeated NBC’s Savannah Guthrie in her role as debate opponent and Joe Biden surrogate. President Trump masterfully handled Guthrie’s attacks and interacted warmly and effectively with the voters in the room. "
— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) October 16, 2020
On social media, however, people seemed to disagree. People commended Guthrie's handling of the interview, pointing out how skillfully she called out Trump.
Reporter @SavannahGuthrie did a great job last night, and this interaction about QAnon shows what more aggressive questioning of #Trump reveals. Here, he makes no apologies for tweeting conspiracy ideas -- even coming from groups he claims to know nothing about. https://t.co/q2SuJPRwnv
— Laurie Garrett (@Laurie_Garrett) October 16, 2020
— Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) October 16, 2020
.@SavannahGuthrie: “I don’t get that. You’re the President. You’re not like someone’s crazy uncle who can just retweet whatever!” Savannah was a marvelous moderator. But he IS “like someone’s crazy uncle.” And the sooner that’s acknowledged the better.
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) October 16, 2020
That's the @SavannahGuthrie I know: the best prepared & relentless in pressing for answers:
"Despite fears that the event would amount to a free promotion for Trump’s campaign, it ended up being one of the toughest grillings he has faced as president" https://t.co/i8r61sG8ku
— Carol Leonnig (@CarolLeonnig) October 16, 2020
The event was scheduled after the second presidential debate, which was supposed to be October 15, was changed to a virtual debate after Trump contracted COVID-19. Trump, however, refused to participate, and ABC scheduled a town hall with Democratic opponent Joe Biden (who had agreed to the virtual debate format). Trump announced a separate town hall for the same night with NBC, sparking an open letter protesting the event, from Hollywood players like Ava DuVernay and the This Is Us cast.