Audio: When a #NeverTrumper interviews Trump

Did … no one on Trump’s staff bother checking Charlie Sykes’s archives about Trump before booking this interview? The guy hasn’t been shy about his views. This piece went live on Sykes’s website just last night, for cripes sake:

Last week, we called on Wisconsin’s conservatives to be “a firewall of rationality in the madness that is the current GOP campaign.” Voters here are well positioned to do exactly that. They are savvy, well-informed, and deeply engaged. And they are not buying the vulgar buffoonery that Trump is selling. In the critical WOW counties around Milwaukee – Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington – Trump is viewed positively by just 25% and negatively by 64% of GOP voters…

I am only one of the hosts here who has broken with the national talkers who drank deep from the toxic cup of Trumpism. Wisconsin boasts an unusually robust talk radio infrastructure – one that includes my colleague on WTMJ, Jeff Wagner, WISN’s Mark Belling, Jay Weber, and Dan O’Donnell, as well as Green Bay’s Jerry Bader. There are no Hannity-like Trump fan boys here…

[C]onservatives in Wisconsin take ideas seriously, which may explain the relatively wide embrace of #Nevertrump here.

Maybe Trump’s decision to appear on Sykes’s is part of a charm offensive to woo his biggest detractors in conservative media in the name of party unity. (Next stop, the Glenn Beck Show?) Or maybe not: Sykes, who’s scrupulously polite but tough throughout, asks Trump flat out at around 13:30 whether Trump knows that he’s a #NeverTrumper. Er, no, says Trump. But give him credit for handling it well. Without missing a beat, he compliments Sykes on his intelligence and tries to find common ground with him. You’d never guess from this that he’s a guy prone to throwing “Trumpertantrums” on social media over reporters who ask him questions he doesn’t like. I assume Sykes will be getting the full Twitter insult-comic treatment sometime this morning or afternoon.

If you’re pressed for time, listen to the last four minutes or so when Sykes presses Trump for an apology to Heidi Cruz and Trump asks when he’s going to get an apology for the independent Super PAC ad that targeted his wife in Utah. Cruz wasn’t responsible for that ad — he’d have had to break the law to coordinate on it, in a state he was going to win by 50 points anyway — but it’s key to Trump’s media strategy that his attacks be framed as self-defense. You can’t fault a man for being a little too aggressive if all he’s doing is protecting himself.

I don’t watch Fox News anymore so regular viewers will have to tell me: When was the last time Trump had an interview this difficult on FNC?

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David Strom 9:21 PM on February 02, 2023