My CNN Interview

Back in September I was interviewed for an article on Donald Trump for CNN.com. It was published today.

Back when I was originally interviewed I shared the news with my Facebook page, and was met with some expressions of concern as to whether I’d be treated fairly… it being CNN and all… The interview was conducted via email, so I had a copy of everything I was asked and everything I responded with. Was I treated fairly? I’ll let you decide. Click here to read the article. The entirety of my email interview is published below, with text that’s quoted in the article highlighted in red.:

Interview with John Blake, CNN.com,
conducted via email September 26-27, 2017 

The original email with a description of the article:

HI Matt:
 Thanks for getting back to me. I’m writing a story on President Trump and while I’ve already talked to a lot of people who either support or oppose him, I think I still need another voice. I noticed your upcoming  book on President Obama and thought you might add another perspective to my article.
Here’s a description of my article:
You’ve heard no doubt people say that President Trump is unqualified to be president. He had no political or military service before entering the Oval Office. And his critics say since he’s been in office he’s been inattentive to policy, lazy, ignorant about basic functions of government and temperamentally unfit. I’ve talked to people who’ve added another layer to criticism of President Trump. They say he’s a white “racial token,” someone who was put in office because so many whites now feel like they’re victims of racial discrimination. They know he’s unqualified but they don’t care – they’ve lowered the standards that they would usually have for any other president just to have Trump in charge because he embodies their anger. For example, some of them claim a President Obama could have never gotten away from not releasing his tax returns, or being caught telling repeatedly telling falsehoods while president.
I’m sure you’ve heard this arguments. I’d like to know what you think: Did much of White America lower their standards to put Trump in office; is he somehow more unqualified and unfit than other presidents; does he get away with thing things that Obama and other presidents wouldn’t get away with?
 If you’d like to talk about this, please let me know and we can sat up a time.
The full slate of questions with my responses:

JOHN BLAKE, CNN.com: Critics say that President Trump is the most unqualified person for the Oval Office. He had no political or military experience and his behavior since being elected and his behavior since becoming president has validated their beliefs that he is unfit for office. What do you say in response to those criticisms?

MATT MARGOLIS: Can you tell me where in the multiverse Obama had more political and military experience than John McCain in 2008? Because in this reality Obama was the most inexperienced candidate from either party. Hillary herself campaigned against Obama by challenging his lack of experience… and lost. Democrat primary voters didn’t care. They couldn’t make the statement they wanted to make at that time by making her their nominee. I think we need to stop pretending that political and military experience matter more to voters than what each candidate represents.

As for his behavior, let me say first that I’m not a huge fan of his style–I supported Ted Cruz in the primary–but his hardcore supporters appreciate the fact that, unlike career politicians, his words aren’t scripted with focus-group-tested responses. His style, understandably so, makes plenty of people uncomfortable, but it also comes across as more genuine than the career politicians who the majority of people don’t trust and don’t believe are really looking out for them.

 

JB: What do critics get wrong about President Trump?

MM: I think his critics have grossly miscalculated the effectiveness of blind opposition to Trump. Their base may not want them to work with him, but the middle wants to see cooperation and compromise. Attacking proposals before they’re made isn’t going to win votes. Trying to scandalize everything about his presidency from how many scoops of ice cream he gets to letting an 11-year-old boy mow the White House lawn does more to embolden his supporters than anything else. In short, I don’t think Obama’s critics understand how many Americans think.

 

JB: What would you say to critics who say President Trump is a white “racial token” – someone who was put in the Oval Office by white racial grievances even though he doesn’t meet the traditional standards required of all previous presidents?

MM: What Trump’s critics don’t seem to understand is that the way they see Trump is very similar to how Trump’s supporters saw Obama. Obama was easily the least qualified candidate of the entire Democratic slate in 2008. So, was Barack Obama a black “racial token” — someone who was put in the Oval Office despite his inexperience? Why didn’t the media ask whether Americans “lowered their standards” (to echo your words) just to put Obama in office in 2008?

I had more faith in Trump’s business experience preparing him for the presidency than I did in Obama’s experience as a community organizer in preparing him for the presidency. The middle class suffered significantly because of Obama’s policies, and people were tired of America’s interests not being the top priority. That’s why Trump was elected. Let’s stop trying to make everything about race when it’s not. After all, Trump did better with African-Americans and Hispanics than Romney did in 2012.

 

JB: President Trump refused to release his tax returns; been accused of lying about everything from the Obama wiretapping Trump Tower and the size of his inaugural crowd. Could any other president have gotten any of that? Are there different standards for President Trump?

MM: There are different standards for Trump because he came from the private sector. There were also different standards for Obama because he was the first black president. What’s the difference between these two standards? The media won’t let Trump get away with anything, no matter how trivial, yet the media wouldn’t let Obama be held accountable for anything, no matter how serious. You ask the question assuming Trump is “getting away with” so much. Is he really? After eight years of turning a blind eye to what was happening under Obama, does anyone really think Trump’s supporters care about tax returns, how many scoops of ice cream he gets, or what kind of shoes Melania wears? They’re tired of the double standard in how Trump is treated compared to Obama, and the longer it goes on the more emboldened they’ll be to re-elect him in 2020.

You know what bothered me more than Trump’s tax returns? Being lied to about saving $2,500 on my health insurance with Obamacare, but actually paying at least $2,500 more. You know what bothered me more than the whole inaugural crowd size talk? Being lied to about Iran’s ability to build nuclear weapons under the Iran Deal and giving them billions of dollars.

I’m not saying that Trump isn’t his own worst enemy at times. He often doesn’t know when to stop digging when he’s in a hole, or he doesn’t care. But that doesn’t justify the constant scandalizing of everything he does as an impeachable offense.

 

JB: If a candidate Barack Obama would have been caught on tape saying he grabbed a woman’s p…y, could he have still gotten elected?

MM: Of course. As I document in my new book that comes out in February, Barack Obama survived no less than 30 scandals during his presidency that would have sunk any other president, especially a Republican. Richard Nixon resigned the presidency over less than what Barack Obama repeatedly got away with.

How many so-called women’s groups (still) defend Bill Clinton, who not only took advantage of a female subordinate in the Oval Office, but has been accused repeatedly of inappropriate behavior and assault by multiple female accusers?

So yeah, I strongly believe that if Barack Obama was caught on tape saying the exact same thing Trump said, it would have been Obama’s supporters writing it off as typical “locker room talk” and much ado about nothing, and the media would have echoed that sentiment.

 

JB: Why will Obama go down as one of the worst presidents in US history?

MM: You mean besides his having the biggest deficits in history and worst economic recovery since the Great Depression, the Obamacare disaster, violating his own laws, constant race-baiting, losing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, expanding the regulatory state, unprecedented spying on Americans and other constitutional abuses, assaults on freedom of the press and freedom of religion, unprecedented lack of transparency, politicizing the Justice Department, the terrible nuclear deal with Iran, dozens of scandals and cover-ups, amongst many other things?

 

JB: How do you think President Trump will be regarded after his term ends.

MM: George W. Bush was called “Hitler” by the left when he was president. John McCain was called “Hitler” by the left when he ran in 2008. Mitt Romney was called “Hitler” by the left when he ran in 2012. I think it’s clear to anyone that leftist rhetoric towards all of them has improved significantly in recent years. It’s quite clear from this pattern that when the baton is passed to the next Republican presidential candidate, he or she will be the new Hitler incarnate to them and the left will soften their rhetoric towards Trump.