ABC’s Karl: Trump Attacks the Press for the ‘Applause’ — It’s a ‘Performance’

Thursday on MSNBC’s “Deadline,” ABC News’ White House reporter Jonathan Karl said President Donald Trump “is attacking us sometimes because the fan base loves it, it’s the biggest applause lines at his rallies.”

Karl said, “I’ve had these experiences behind the scenes with him where I have seen how he interacts with me as a reporter covering him, the way he courts me, tries to intimidate me, tries to flatter me all sometimes in the same day and then go out and put on this show. These coronavirus briefings show in vivid color the way he has operated, which is somebody who takes on the press, loves to pick the fights but just can’t get enough of us either. It’s a fascinating Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde performance that he puts on.”

He continued, “Over the past week, we’ve had a couple of blowups. He said, don’t be a cutie pie. He’s called me a wise guy, a third rate reporter, and then he wagged his finger at me and pronounced that I would never make it. That was just in the course of a week … I write about a particularly explosive incident in the book from the 2015 campaign where he walked out of an interview with me, and after he was away from the cameras, backstage at a rally again, he started screaming at me in a way that I had really never been. I had never felt such anger, certainly not from a news figure who I was covering. He called me a bleeping nasty guy, and it was I mean, over the top.”

Karl added, “He went out, and he gave the speech, and then he came back to finish the interview. And, Nicolle, he acted like nothing had happened. I was still shaking from this experience. I continued on the interview because I felt like it was my job to do the interview, and I do believe that intently, it’s not me and him. We don’t want to become the story. If I become the story I have failed. It is not about me. So, I was really worried about this. You know, the interview had just started, he walked out, about three minutes into this interview that was supposed to be a long interview and he screams at me and then comes back like nothing had happened. And at the end of that interview, he says to me, ‘Do you want to get a picture taken with me?’ And I’m thinking no. I mean, that’s the last thing I want to do. I was still like furious about what had happened. But okay, fine, I’ll take a picture … The picture has Trump grinning ear to ear, just like the happiest expression on his face, and I look like I am just dying to get out of there, not smiling, upset. But that’s the classic thing. He is attacking us sometimes because the fan base loves it. The biggest applause lines at his rallies are not when he’s going after Democrats, it’s when he’s going after the press. That’s one reason he does it. He does it, I think often, in these briefings because he wants to distract from whatever the underlying question is. I was asking about the problems with testing.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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