Donald Trump answered questions at a “town hall” in Philadelphia on Tuesday evening, a rare appearance before non-adoring voters in which he “lied as often as he breathed”, reported Seth Meyers on Wednesday’s Late Night.
“I’m not sure I see the value in hosting an event like this,” Meyers said. “We know what he’s going to say – he’s going to repeat the same deranged lies we’ve heard a million times.”
“In order to fact-check a Trump town hall, reporters have to talk like they’re describing the side effects at the end of a drug commercial,” he added.
Fact-checkers were indeed required, although some of Trump’s answers defied basic sense; for example, when asked by one voter why, if he believed it was the president’s responsibility to protect America, Trump downplayed the coronavirus — a fact confirmed by several taped interviews with journalist Bob Woodward released last week — Trump responded: “I didn’t downplay it, I actually — in many ways, I actually up-played it in terms of action. So that was called action, not with the mouth but in actual fact.”
“Well, it’s like they always say: actions are stronger than mouth,” Meyers deadpanned, adding that Trump’s garbled answer “sounds like a poorly translated bus ad you’d see in a foreign country”. It’s also a lie: in an interview with Woodward on 19 March, Trump said he “wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down.”
Trump’s town hall statements thus aren’t surprising, Meyers concluded, as “these interviews with Trump always go the same way: he spews too many lies to count, and then factcheckers scramble to debunk everything. He’s a serial con artist and pathological liar – or, to put it in Trumpese, he up-plays the non-truths not with the mouth but in actual fact.”
Stephen Colbert also recapped Trump’s town hall, in which he faced questions from undecided voters. “Wow, undecided? I assume the night started with each of them being roused from a coma,” the Late Show host joked.
At one point in the evening, Trump told host George Stephanopoulos, without evidence, that the virus would “go away without a vaccine … And you’ll develop, like, a herd mentality”.
“Ok, I think he meant ‘herd immunity’,” Colbert corrected, “which is a large group of people developing immunity by sharing the disease freely, resulting in massive loss of life.
“‘Herd mentality’ is a bunch of people in red caps at an indoor rally during a pandemic” – Colbert showed a photo of Trump’s rally in Nevada last weekend, which violated the state’s Covid restrictions – “resulting in massive loss of life.”
While Biden courted Hispanic voters in Florida by playing the 2017 smash hit Despacito on his phone (for context: the candidate was introduced at the event by its singer, Luis Fonsi), Trump played “for a demographic he’s been struggling with: people who don’t want to die from coronavirus”, Trevor Noah reported on the Daily Show. “And it seems like he might be just a little rusty taking questions from a less than adoring audience.”
For example, Trump tried to argue that masks aren’t an effective prevention measure because some people don’t like them; asked to specify which people, he rambled through an answer about restaurant waiters. Noah called bullshit – “First of all, the people in the window at McDonald’s are not called waiters. Secondly, why is the president of a country with one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the world still giving people room to doubt masks?”
Trump also attempted to blame Biden and congressional Democrats for not instituting a national mask mandate, despite opposing one himself, as president. “Between this and blaming riots on Joe Biden, either Trump is delusional, or he’s slowly trying to Jedi mind trick America into thinking Biden has been president this whole time,” Noah explained.
Which means that while many have said “Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing, and because of that, a lot of people are going to die”, Noah concluded, “that’s not true. A lot of people are going to die because Trump does know what he’s doing.”
And on Full Frontal, Samantha Bee investigated several consequential, but less widely known, Senate races which could flip the chamber in Democrats’ favor. For example, in South Carolina, Jaime Harrison is edging close to Trump stalwart Lindsey Graham in part by working to mobilize upwards of 400,000 unregistered voters of color. “His friends say he makes a red velvet cake so good, apparently, he could sell it,” Bee joked, adding: “Unlike my ‘red Velveeta’ cake, which is actually the first time a Chopped judge has ever hit a contestant.”
Bee also touched on the heated Senate race in Maine, where longtime incumbent and reliably disappointing swing vote Susan Collins – one of the key senators to approve Brett Kavanaugh to the supreme court two years ago – has fallen behind in polls to Democratic challenger Sara Gideon, who has charged Collins with hypocrisy and political expediency.
“Collins’ turn as a political pariah has been a long time coming,” Bee said. “Over and over she’s teased us with the hint that she might be the only Republican with a conscience, only to vote in line with the rest of the GOP. It’s like Lucy promising to hold the football for Charlie Brown, and then when he runs to kick it, Lucy puts an alleged sexual predator on the supreme court.”