If you thought bragging about “acing” a dementia test was as bad as it got, Donald Trump has another wild interview highlights reel for you.
News site Axios’ weekly HBO show aired an interview with the president on Monday night that made the Chris Wallace shitshow look like a successfully muffled fart.
During the 40-minute sit-down, Trump repeated his well-wishes for accused child sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, saying he offered them simply because “her boyfriend” Jeffrey Epstein “was either killed or committed suicide in jail”; refused to say whether he found the late congressman and civil rights campaigner John Lewis “impressive”, only complaining that Lewis skipped Trump’s inauguration; and waved away questions about U.S. intelligence suggesting Russia offered a bounty on American troops.
All that, and yet it got worse.
The moment that really stuck out involved Trump flapping a fistful of printed-out charts at interviewer Jonathan Swan, literally arguing that Swan should only refer to the version of the U.S. coronavirus death rates that make Trump look the best.
.@jonathanvswan: “Oh, you’re doing death as a proportion of cases. I’m talking about death as a proportion of population. That’s where the U.S. is really bad. Much worse than South Korea, Germany, etc.”@realdonaldtrump: “You can’t do that.”
Swan: “Why can’t I do that?” pic.twitter.com/MStySfkV39
— Axios (@axios) August 4, 2020
Yes, he really said “You can’t do that,” like a seven-year-old whose sister just invented a new rule in the middle of a game of Monopoly.
(While Swan is a professional and experienced journalist who clearly knows how to interpret statistics correctly — and spot when they’re being manipulated — it’s also worth noting that his father Dr. Norman Swan is a physician and medical communicator who’s become one of Australia’s most trusted figures for information during the pandemic. They probably talk about this stuff on occasion.)
The clip above had over 4.6 million views on Twitter alone at the time of writing. And on a platform at least partially devoted at any given hour to parsing whatever wild shit Trump’s just said or tweeted, the reactions reached a new level of gobsmacked.
Some users claimed to wonder if this was a comedy skit with an especially talented Trump impersonator, or a deepfake.
I thought it was a skit until I realized it really was him and an actual interview 🤦🏼♀️🤦🏼♀️🤦🏼♀️
— Deborah A Rogers (@darblackcats) August 4, 2020
Others compared it to the iconic, “But this one goes to 11” scene from This Is Spinal Tap. (The phrase “Spinal Tap” began trending at one point.)
This entire interview is like the “this goes to 11” scene in Spinal Tap…Trump isn’t smart enough to understand the question, and he doesn’t have an answer, so he just repeats the nonsense he thinks he understands. Sad.
— Think 4 Yourself (@RexRacer1974) August 4, 2020
This has a strong whiff of This Is Spinal Tap, both the mini bread scene and the amp goes to 11 one. Forget stable genius, the orange Nigel Tufnell is an improvisational genius. Special Oscar for @jonathanvswan as beardless Marty DiBergi. https://t.co/F1TmrdlWLx
— Bernard Zuel (@BernardZuel) August 4, 2020
The Wallace interview made you cringe, but these Swan clips just feel totally absurd. Like Christopher Guest wrote the script. Comedy.
Trump as the political Nigel Tufnel.
Even Swan’s accent has mockumentary written all over it. https://t.co/kZcCnG0ZNk
— Matt Glassman (@MattGlassman312) August 4, 2020
Folks also compared it to Veep, including GOP-turned-Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash, and literal person who was on Veep Sam Richardson.
Even Nathan For You, the peak of surreal cringe brilliance, came to mind for one user.
But at the end of the day, this is real, and it’s spectacular…ly terrifying.