With the election coming up this week, it is tradition for 60 Minutes to interview the major presidential and vice presidential candidates. However, President Donald Trump’s interview with 60 Minutes didn’t exactly follow tradition. Typically, the presidential and vice-presidential candidates are each interviewed for a little over 20 minutes, but Trump’s segment ended up being a little shorter. The interview began with CBS journalist and former CBS News White House correspondent Lesley Stahl asking Trump “Are you ready for some tough questions?” and ended with Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s delivery of the Trump administration’s supposed healthcare plan. Trump’s portion of the interview clocked in at around 16 minutes.
The primary topics of the interview were the pandemic, the economy and the media. Trump answered these questions as he has throughout the election cycle–maintaining that the White House response has been effective, the economy is better than ever and the “fake news media” is against him. Stahl also posed questions about the safety of Trump’s rallies, which he defended by saying that the rallies are bigger than ever and that participants are offered masks upon entering. While none of these topics seemed to come out of left field, the interview as a whole was full of Stahl and Trump interrupting each other.
Throughout the interview, Trump expressed frustration about what he perceived as a double standard in the ways he and Former Vice President Joe Biden are interviewed, claiming, “I see Joe Biden, [given] softball after softball. I've seen all of his interviews. He's never been asked a question that's hard.” This frustration eventually led to Trump walking off the set of the interview. During a brief interjection from a producer, Trump ended the interview by saying, “I think we have enough of an interview here, Hope. Okay? That's enough. Let's go.” The planned walk around White House grounds, where Stahl was supposed to continue the interview with Trump, did not occur.
Afterwards, Press Secretary McEnany presented Stahl with a binder containing details of Trump’s healthcare plan. During the interview, Stahl had raised questions about the healthcare plan, and Trump seemed to take this as a chance to address them. While the healthcare plan binder appeared hefty and exhaustive, Stahl commented that "it was filled with executive orders and congressional initiatives, but no comprehensive healthcare plan."
The second part of the segment went as planned with an interview with Vice President Pence, where he answered questions about Trump’s departure and how Americans should respond to the pandemic. He defended Trump’s walking off during the interview, explaining that “it's less about the back and forth with the media, and it's–it's really more about how we bring this country all the way back.” Furthermore, he defended the White House’s response to the pandemic and left individual decisions, such as whether to return to school and whether to celebrate Thanksgiving, up to individual Americans.
Another point of contention surrounding the 60 Minutes interview was Trump’s early release of unedited footage. Trump posted this video on Facebook on Thursday, October 22nd, almost a week before it was officially aired through CBS. Trump’s version of the video was captioned: “Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS.” Later, on Twitter, Trump encouraged his followers to “compare this terrible Electoral Intrusion with the recent interviews of Sleepy Joe Biden.”
Just prior to Trump’s release of the footage, a relative of Lesley Stahl reportedly received death threats as a result of the interview, and Stahl has been provided a security detail from CBS.
Democratic Party candidate Biden’s 60 Minutes interview aired the same day, on October 25th. Biden and his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris were interviewed by CBS Correspondent Norah O’Donnell. The interview was conducted and aired without incident.