Fox-turned-Sinclair host Eric Bolling recently interviewed President Donald Trump at the White House with ludicrously soft questions and allowed him to repeatedly lie about presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s policy positions and Biden’s recent press conference.
The 12-minute interview -- that effectively served as a campaign ad -- was posted online and streamed at Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned or -operated stations’ websites around the country. It will also likely air, in full or in part, on dozens of Sinclair stations as well. Bolling -- who has a history of giving Trump softball interviews -- asked him these questions:
- “You have a heart. I don't think people see the heart that Donald Trump has. I hope I'm not ruining your street cred, but when you watch all the TV news, when you watch what's going on with the rioting, and then the coronavirus death tolls, and then ... these anchors point the fingers at you, how does Donald Trump the person feel?”
- “I was there in 2016 when I saw the polls doing kind of what they're doing right now, sir. ... I keep going into the internals on those polls. And this is someone no one does, certainly no one does on television. But I was doing it in 2016, I even spoke to you about it. I said, if you look into the internals, these people are polling wildly skewed toward Democrats. So if you ask more Democrats who's going to win, of course you're going to look bad. I think the same thing is happening, but these media outlets are the polling sources. Is there a fair poll out there?"
- “A lot of people ask me, what is Trump going to do in a second term regarding this civil unrest that’s going on right now, defund the police. Tell us the difference between Donald Trump second term and Joe Biden first term when it comes to the police.”
- “What happens, you know, you're pushing for federal sentencing, penalties, for pulling down statues to be increased, to be very tough on them. What happens when a governor or a mayor says we're ignoring the federal statutes, we're going to let you pull down those statues?"
- “Mr. President, before I let you go, everything seems to be political now. We talk about masks. ... Will you consider wearing a mask, and if not, how come?"
- “One final thought, Sean Hannity asked you about your second term and the left was upset with it. They said he wasn't sure what his second term is all about. Let's do it, let's do a retake on that. What is Donald Trump's second term, what's the main focus for that?"
Obviously there are problems with Bolling’s questions beyond their framing that give Trump an easy time. Bolling’s first question suggests it’s unfair that Trump is being blamed for the massive coronavirus death toll in the United States, even though he and his administration botched the federal government’s response in numerous ways. Bolling’s question about face masks ignores the huge role Trump has played in politicizing their use. And Bolling’s rescue of Trump’s failure to articulate his second-term vision when asked by Fox News’ Sean Hannity was farcical in its suggestion that “the left was upset with it.” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), certainly no left-wing politician, was so upset at Trump’s performance that he lashed out at Fox over it.
CNN reporter Daniel Dale, who reviewed the interview yesterday evening when it was first posted online, noted that Trump also lied about Biden during the interview. Trump falsely claimed that Biden was reading his June 30 press conference answers off a teleprompter, implying that he knew the questions in advance. The Daily Beast has reported that Biden’s campaign did not pre-screen questions from reporters. Answering one of Bolling’s questions, Trump also falsely claimed Biden “wants to defund and abolish the police.” Weeks ago, Biden’s campaign explained that he “does not believe that police should be defunded.” Of course, these lies went uncorrected by Bolling.
Bolling has interviewed multiple members of the Trump administration in just the past month: Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, acting Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli, Vice President Mike Pence, and White House officials Peter Navarro and Ja’Ron Smith.
Trump gave a nod of approval to Bolling soon after his latest interview began: “Sinclair is terrific, I have to say,” he said. Perhaps Trump had noticed the pattern of Sinclair’s national correspondents covering for him and pushing his false claims to TV stations nationwide, or its hiring of former Fox personalities (including Bolling) who departed amid sexual harassment claims. In any case, Sinclair is rivaling Fox as the conservative outlet of choice for the Trump administration to get its talking points and lies disseminated throughout America.