An interview between Axios reporter Jonathan Swan and President Donald Trump that aired Monday on HBO has drawn the kind of social-media huzzahs accorded to a heartwarming meme or the drop of a Taylor Swift album.
In a conversation taped Tuesday, July 28, Swan questions Trump’s use of statistics to describe how the nation is grappling with coronavirus, suggesting U.S. efforts are working better than those of other countries. “You can’t do that,” Trump says after Swan cited pointed the number of US Covid-19 deaths as a percentage of the U.S. population. In the interview, Swan also queries Trump on Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights leader, who recently died, and finds Trump would not attend the funeral, seemingly in part because Lewis did not attend his inauguration.
Media outlets seized upon the interview as a sign of presidential incompetence. The Daily Beast said that the president “has revealed his self-delusion over U.S. COVID numbers in a mind-blowing argument with Axios’ Jonathan Swan.”
Swan has not always been a media darling. In 2018, he was pilloried by the press for an interview with Trump that was one of the earliest segments show on Axios’ HBO program, which launched that same year. In an interview with Trump at the time, Swan prompted the president to confirm he wanted to end automatic citizenship for immigrant children not born in the U.S. A video clip showed the journalist smiling about nabbing the scoop, and prompted several rounds of criticism about his reporting style – and even prompted him to apologize to colleagues.
But that criticism was not in much evidence today.
Watch the interview in full below: