On August 4, Axios’ interview with President Donald Trump was a major topic of discussion on CNN and MSNBC, and it also earned several headlines for Trump’s disastrous performance.
- The Washington Post: Trump actually doesn’t appear to understand how bad the pandemic is
- The Washington Post: Trump says coronavirus ‘under control as much as you can control it.’ His experts disagree.
- The New York Times: Trump Assesses John Lewis’s Legacy: ‘He Didn’t Come to My Inauguration’
- Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Trump: ‘I don’t know’ how history will remember John Lewis
- CNN: Jonathan Swan reveals the simple secret to exposing Trump's lies: basic follow-up questions
- CNN: Analysis: One big reason it was so enraging to watch Trump's interview with Axios
- The Guardian: Donald Trump flounders in interview over US Covid-19 death toll
- Vogue: The 7 Craziest Things Donald Trump Said in the Axios Interview Everyone's Talking About
- Vox: “They are dying. That’s true. It is what it is.” Trump’s Axios interview was a disaster.
- Business Insider: Trump replied 'you can't do that' when his interviewer pointed out the US's terrible record on COVID-19 deaths per capita
However, the interview was not substantively mentioned on either Fox News or Fox Business until the afternoon -- and even then it was mostly used to push misleading narratives about mail-in voting, as the interview was presented on Fox’s website.
Other than a brief preview for an America’s Newsroom segment about “Trump taking on mail-in voting,” Fox News avoided talking about the Axios interview until the early afternoon when Outnumbered Overtime also used Trump’s comments to attack mail-in voting; Fox's John Roberts and Trump adviser Karl Rove had a similar discussion during the 3 p.m. hour. Meanwhile, CNN and MSNBC discussed the interview throughout the day.
Fox reporter Kristin Fisher very briefly played Trump's “it is what it is” remark about the COVID-19 death toll in the country during the beginning of Dana Perino's show, but the focus of her report was on White House staff defending Trump's handling of the pandemic.
CNN medical analyst and former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “disease detective” Dr. Seema Yasmin highlighted the incredible number of false claims Trump made, but said that “what really pains me though is that we keep having to have this conversation. … We actually get very little remorse, very little sorrow or acknowledgement that this is a public health tragedy on a historical kind of level.” Yasmin argued that while Americans suffer and die from COVID-19 and resulting economic hardship, Trump remains fixated on defending himself with a false reality because, as anchor Kate Bolduan said, he “does not know” how to effectively fight COVID-19, “and very clearly does not want to.”
On MSNBC, senior White House correspondent Shannon Pettypiece reported that Trump’s Axios interview was “part of this pattern by the president of seeming to downplay the severity of this situation, even as his advisers, other people in his administration have really been trying to sound the alarm more on the seriousness of this.” Pettypiece then pulled apart Trump’s claim that the U.S. “is lowest in numerous categories” of COVID-19 deaths compared to other countries, which is simply false in both the total number of coronavirus deaths and as a proportion of the national population. Guest anchor Ayman Mohyeldin added that “preventing those who are sick with the virus from dying does not mean that you have the virus under control, something the president repeatedly said which is factually not correct.”