New ‘Meet the Press’ host Kristen Welker defends against Trump interview backlash

NBC News accused of ‘normalising a maniac’ by giving Trump a soapbox

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Sunday 17 September 2023 17:54 BST
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Meet the Press moderator Kristen Welker, in her first appearance since taking over the flagship NBC News political show, defended the decision to do a pre-recorded interview with Donald Trump.

There had been significant backlash and calls for a boycott of the show after clips were released earlier this week that appeared to show little pushback to the former president’s lies about falsehoods on a number of topics ranging from January 6 to abortion.

During its full airing, there were breaks in the interview in which Welker extensively fact-checked Mr Trump’s statements. There was also a fact-checking breakdown of what was said on NBCNews.com.

After the conclusion of the pre-recorded portion — filmed earlier this week at the former president’s Bedminster, New Jersey golf club and summer home — Welker led a panel discussion to dissect his answers from a legal and political standpoint.

As part of that, Welker asked Peter Baker, The New York Times White House correspondent, to explain the reasoning for interviewing Mr Trump and why it has news value.

“This is a huge challenge for American journalists, of course, right? It cannot be that a person can run for president United States be a front-runner in his party and possibly win without ever being challenged by a tough, independent interviewer. And that’s, I think, an important part of our system,” said Baker.

“Now, obviously the challenge for us because he is just going to spout out one thing after another, and fact check[ing] in real-time is a real hard thing. But what you’ve done here is edit it and make sure people understand what here’s real.”

Much of the anger and calls for a boycott was directed at the show for giving a platform to the former president’s lies, with accusations that the interview was “normalising a maniac”.

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