President Trump, Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan discussed on Monocle 24: The Big Interview
A presidential debate? Quite different than being an interviewer because it's a debate and you're there as the moderator, the referee and it's like being the referee prizefight, they're the two combatants and you're there to just make sure it's a good fair fight and so one of the things that I. I thought then and I have thought even more sense is it's not about you that the best moderator is when the debate is over that people say you know who moderated that debate I can't even remember then you've done a good job because to the degree that you inter- interfere or step in or intrude in the debate you have. Not Done, what you're supposed to do it's a very different. Interview with is you and the subject but a debate is the two of them debating and you're simply trying to facilitate the conversation I. Think unless you will. Then it'd be pretty hard too much for anyone exactly what it's like to be sitting in not seats on your own in front of the two people vying to be the president of the most powerful country in the world. Did you feel exhilarated while you're sitting there how how nerve wracking was it because I can't really quite begin to imagine what an experience that must be like expected that you asked us I've been thinking about it so I've done. Almost everything in the business I covered Ronald Reagan for six years I've interviewed foreign leaders been all over the world not blase I get still get excited but you know I've had those experiences to suddenly be a moderator of a general election debate and it was twenty days before the election. So twenty days later, one of these people on the stage is going. To be the next president was something I had never done before and while I went about it the way I go about my business, which is intense preparation and sort of games like wealthy says this Oughta, why where do I, take the debate? There were moments when the task ahead of May and the stakes were overwhelming and I would get huge waves. Of anxiety and then you'd come down and go about your business but I remember the night of the debate and the heads of the debate commission were talking to three minutes before the debate was going to start an I was. Standing in the wings just off stage and I looked up and I sad, dear, Lord literally. I've never done this before her I said. Dear Lord. If you get through the next ninety minutes I will never ask you for anything. So. Then I walked down and in the audience you know on one side are bill and Chelsea Clinton in the audience on the other side or Melania and Ivanka trump. was kind of somebody who's done everything. It was a democratic debate I. Sat there you had a couple of minutes as they were preparing. Just sort of get your legs onto the moderators desk and the debate began I read the teleprompter and and they both came out, and we a remember the first couple of questions. Maybe the first five minutes that I heard this voice asking questions and I kept thinking who is now It was may of course, but it was an out of body experience. But about five minutes in to this ninety minute debate I thought. I can handle this I. I've done this all my life, and then I had a challenging intense but very good time for the rest of the debate. And in terms of the idea of keeping things not tied to a script. I'm thinking of your interview that you did with the president in July this year and I wonder how you prepare for an interview like that with this president particularly. You know I don't know I can't say that it's so different than it is then preparing for an interview with any President I will say in one sense, it's easier with Donald trump and that's because. He uses the same lines and same facts over and over whether they're true or not. So. In a sense, it's easier to prepare because you kind of know. What he's GonNa. Sigh and that's a huge advantage to an interviewer. If you know when I asked this question, here's what he's GonNa say particularly, if you think it's not true that you can be. Well Versed and have the facts right and son of you to challenge. That wasn't what you go in to do but it's not like you know some people they'll suddenly a the sky is rain and they'd never said it before you haven't been prepared to. Challenge why the Sky Crane and so it comes out of the. Forgive me the blue. But with the president, you kind of know what arguments is GonNa make, which makes it a little bit easier to prepare for the. But how'd you keep you know you want to ask on track when for example, the series advances you've been getting maybe slightly off the script that you'd imagine in your mind that they would be how do you keep sight of what you want to get over all from the into the acids and folding? So the question the answer is you you don't you pick your fights and there are certain things you think I'm going to make an issue of deaths in there some that you've just. Let go which doesn't say that you are graying or you just you can't. You can't argue about everything. I didn't I interview you told President The you were surprised that he'd agreed to sit down with view he had in the weeks before you sat down with him at the White House bean pretty mean to you online on his twitter account went to the surprise come from view when he agreed to sit down with you. It's a funny thing about Donald Trump. I am people often ask because I've known him not well, but I've known him since well before he became president. So I've got a lot of experience with them. The thing that I would say about President trump is I've never seen a bigger difference between the private man and the public figure than with Donald Trump he's a very nice man as polite. I'm talking about in private is pro is polite is considerate is interested in you ask questions about you, which is very rare for a public figure and then there's the the Donald Trump I'm not saying that it's all an act, but you know there's the Public Donald Trump and you know so on the one hand, he certainly has gone out of his way over the last year particularly to write main tweets about me and at the first time that happen. You know it gets your attention even even if you know that it's something of a game on his part, he's the president of the United States and he's crawling you out and with me sometimes quite personal terms. But again, you know he he's calls me out. You know he says, you're not your father he said it and over. So first time maybe it stems a little and. After.