CBS News confirmed Tuesday night that President Trump cut his one-on-one “60 Minutes” interview with correspondent Lesley Stahl short. This came a couple of hours after the commander-in-chief had tweeted a video showing the veteran TV journalist without a mask on, along with an enigmatic caption promising “more to come.”
The president’s post was put up following a CNN report citing two sources that claimed the president “abruptly ended” his one-on-one interview with Stahl after 45 minutes, and that he did not return for a scheduled taping of a walk-and-talk with his running mate, Vice President Mike Pence.
Two people familiar with the circumstances told the New York Times that the president had grown irritated with Stahl’s questions.
Neither the White House nor representatives of “60 Minutes” were immediately available for comment. But Trump went on to threaten via Twitter to post video of the interview before its airing on Sunday “so that everybody can get a glimpse of what a FAKE and BIASED interview is all about…”:
So how could the White House air this interview early? CBS Evening News addressed the situation during Tuesday night’s broadcast, with correspondent Ed O’Keefe reporting that the White House had an agreement with “60 Minutes” to tape the interview, too — but for archival purposes only. What’s more, he shared a statement from “60 Minutes” explaining that the broadcast has a history of “interviewing presidential candidates and asking important questions in the run up to elections.”
A CBS News representative told MarketWatch that the brief clip Trump tweeted of Stahl not wearing a mask was taken immediately after the interview while she was speaking to her producers, but that she had been wearing a face mask when she entered the White House, and leading up to the time of the interview.
The incumbent Republican president and vice president are scheduled to appear on the CBS News program’s election special this Sunday. Their Democratic opponents, former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris, were also interviewed for this weekend’s program by Norah O’Donnell. CNN reports that while Biden and Harris taped their interviews separately, Trump and Pence were slated to appear on camera together, as they had just before the 2016 election.
Pundits and journalists began speculating on Twitter about what had happened during the taping on Tuesday, resulting in Stahl’s name becoming a trending topic on the social-media platform.
Stahl was hospitalized with COVID-19 in the spring and has recovered. President Trump recently spent a few days at Walter Reed Medical Center after he, the first lady and their son tested positive for COVID-19, along with a number of other White House staffers.
The pending “60 Minutes” interview and alleged behind-the-scenes drama also led a 2018 Stahl clip to resurface, in which she shared a conversation that she had with Trump in 2016 about why he attacked the press so much, even when there weren’t any cameras around. She revealed during the talk at the Deadline Club of New York that the president had told her: “ ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so that when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.’ ”
This story has been updated with CBS News confirmation that the interview was cut short.