On Saturday morning, Today co-host and weekday White House correspondent Peter Alexander was throwing hardballs at Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel, who gave as good as she got. Much like their contentious Lara Trump interview last month, NBC is pushing the Trump team around, and Team Biden gets to hide from scrutiny.
These are the Alexander hardballs:
1. "Americans, as you know well, want to know when life is going to get back to normal. The president said this week that we are rounding the final turn, but Dr. Anthony Fauci said it will be well into 2021, possibly the end of 2021 before that happens. So why not just level with the American people?"
McDaniel noted Trump's optimism and Fauci's estimate of when life will be fully normal are different things, but there is good news, like a dropping number of cases.
2. "Of course, just yesterday, 46,000 new infections were reported, more than a thousand deaths. The death toll in this country is now approaching 200,000. The president, as you know, holds another rally in Nevada today. For months, he's urged Americans to follow the state and local guidelines that limit large gatherings, call for social distancing. So why is he putting his own supporters at risk and flouting those very state and local guidelines?"
McDaniel put Alexander in his place by noting that the press doesn't fuss about flouted guidelines when protests they like are organized. Alexander granted this point, but tried to say the president should be different. Why?
3. "Let me ask you about Bob Woodward's new book that made a lot of headlines this week, revealing that the president said one thing privately. He said that the virus is, quote, more deadly than even your strenuous flus, but said another thing publicly, almost three weeks later, saying that the virus would go away. And that it was just like the flu. So shouldn't the American people expect honesty from the president?"
McDaniel listed the "decisive" actions the president has taken to fight the virus.
The hardest hardball came at the end as the TV screen read “THE POLITICS OF FEAR.” Alexander suggested Trump played down the coronavirus, but he’s “stoking” fear of urban looting and violence:
PETER ALEXANDER: The president said he downplayed the virus because he didn't want to frighten people or cause a panic, but during this pain, he's repeatedly warned people that agitators and looters were going to overrun their neighborhoods, were going to overrun the suburbs. If the president isn't, I guess, sparking fear, why in those examples is he the one who's stoking it?
RONNA McDANIEL: I don't think he's stoking it. I think we're seeing things on TV -- you look at Kenosha, Wisconsin, it looks like a third world country that got burned out. It's really frightening to see businesses being burned down and looted and Democrats failing to protect their cities. Look at Portland right now. And I think this is a real unrest that we're seeing across this country. You know, if we have a difference of opinion, we can talk about it. But it's not okay to go burn down cities and burn down livelihoods and decimate police precincts, which you've heard some Democrats call for rioters to go do. This is not okay. And I think the president is ringing a warning bell that Democrats are not standing up to this type of violence.
Alexander wrapped the interview by inserting a final rebuttal, insisting the murder rate is going up in Republican-run cities, too, like Tulsa and Miami.
This combative segment was brought to you by Volvo.