There were many standout moments from Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace’s one-hour interview with President Donald Trump on Sunday, but one was especially unusual.
It came after Wallace asked Trump about his 2020 rival, Joe Biden. “Is Joe Biden senile?”
That launched Trump into one of his signature campaign themes, that Biden isn’t entirely with it and wouldn’t be able to handle the job. In the interview, Trump said Biden was “not competent to be president” and that “he doesn’t know he’s alive.” Last week, in an interview with Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, Trump also boasted about taking a cognitive test in a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and he “aced” the exam.
Wallace, though, noted that in a Fox News poll, Biden beats Trump on the question of who is more competent.
Trump responded, “Well, I’ll tell you what, let’s take a test. Let’s take a test right now. Let’s go down, Joe and I will take a test. Let him take the same test that I took.”
Wallace then said that he took the test, too, when he heard Trump passed it, and it was not the “hardest test.”
“They have a picture and it says ‘what’s that and it’s an elephant,” Wallace said.
Trump, though, challenged him on that point, calling it a “misrepresentation.”
“Because, yes, the first few questions are easy, but I’ll bet you couldn’t even answer the last five questions. I’ll bet you couldn’t, they get very hard, the last five questions,” he said.
“Well, one of them was count back from 100 by seven,” Wallace said.
“Let me tell you…” Trump said.
“Ninety three,” Wallace responded.
Trump then said “you couldn’t answer many of the questions.”
“OK, what’s the question?” Wallace said.
“I’ll get you the test. I’d like to give it. I’ll guarantee you that Joe Biden could not answer those questions. And I answered all 35 questions correctly,” Trump insisted.
During the interview, Wallace also challenged Trump on the issue of coronavirus testing, and the president’s claim that the recent spike in cases is due to more people being screened.
“It isn’t just that testing has gone up, it’s that the virus has spread,” Wallace said. “The positivity rate has increased.”
“Many of those cases are young people that would heal in a day,” Trump said. “They have the sniffles and we put it down as a test…. Don’t forget, I guess it’s like 99.7 percent, people are going to get better and in many cases they’re going to get better very quickly.”
The interview started with an exchange over the coronavirus mortality rate.
When Wallace said that the United States had the seventh highest mortality rate in the world, Trump disputed it and said he thinks “we have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.”
“That’s not true, sir. We had 900 deaths on a single day,” Wallace said.
Trump then referred to his press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany. “Do you have the numbers, please? Because I heard we had the best mortality rate.”
“I hope you show the scenario because it shows what fake news is all about,” Trump said.
“I don’t think I’m fake news but I will — we’ll put our stats on,” Wallace said.
In a voice over, Wallace then explained that his show “went with numbers from Johns Hopkins University which charted the mortality rate for 20 countries hit by the virus. The US ranked 7th, better than the United Kingdom but worse than Brazil and Russia.”
The show then showed the White House’s chart, which was from the European CDC showed Italy and Spain doing worse, but countries like Brazil and South Korea “doing better.”
“Other countries doing better like Russia aren’t included in the White House chart,” Wallace said.
In tweets, Trump has bashed Wallace, something that the Fox News Sunday host noted at one point.
“Some people were surprised when you agreed to this interview, to sit down with me,” Wallace said, adding, “Especially because of some of the mean tweets that you’ve said about me. Mike Wallace wannabe. Nasty and obnoxious. I will tell you after that one my son, Peter, who you’ve met, called and he said nasty, no, obnoxious, maybe.”
Then Wallace asked,”One of your beefs seems to be that I put Democrats on the show and I ask them questions. And I guess the question I have is, don’t you understand it’s my job to put Democrats on as well as Republicans? And to ask them probing questions just like I ask Republicans?”
Trump responded, “I’m not a big fan of ‘Fox,’ I’ll be honest with you. They’ve changed a lot since Roger Ailes. And I watch people like [Rep. Eric] Swalwell, who I don’t even know, he goes on the show, he got less than 1 percent, all of a sudden he’s … being interviewed for endless hours.”
Then Wallace played clips of interviews with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former FBI director James Comey, in which he asked them tough questions.
“I’d like to think I treat everybody the same,” Wallace said.
Trump did praise Wallace as a “very talented person,” but said, “It just seems to me that you are very prone to be nice to the Democrats and maybe I’m wrong about that, Chris, but it’s an honor to be with you it’s fine, I love it.”