Journalist Jonathan Swan praised as ‘hero’ after cornering Donald Trump in car crash interview
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A journalist has been hailed a “hero” after he left Donald Trump floundering during an interview over his response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Jonathan Swan, national political correspondent at the Axios news site, grilled the US President on the Covid-19 pandemic in a segment aired by HBO on Tuesday.
Segments show a frustrated Mr Trump rifle through sheets of papers as Mr Swan questioned him on the US death toll.
Mr Swan repeatedly asked Mr Trump to explain himself as the embattled US President claimed the country had done an “incredible job” and that he had saved “millions of lives”.
After the interview was aired, Mr Swan, who is Australian, was described as “one of the best interviewers on the planet” and an “American hero”.
One social media user said: “Jonathan Swan is one of the best live interviewers on the planet.
Political correspondent Jonathan Swan pressed Donald Trump on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic (Axios)
“Listening to answers, thinking on his feet, and asking relevant follow-up questions. (Rather than moving on after an answer is completed.)”
Another said the interview showed the president’s “incompetence”.
“This is what happen when Trump doesn’t get to know the questions before the interview,” said the social media user in a Twitter post.
Donald Trump struggled to understand why Mr Swan wanted to look at coronavirus deaths in the US as proportion of population (Axios)
Others noted the “meme potential” of Mr Swan’s expressions as he went head-to-head with the President.
“I feel that Jonathan Swan’s “what the f**** are you even TALKING about” face has meme potential,” said one person on Twitter.
Mr Swan’s expressions changed from confusion to sheer disbelief in looks that were captured and analysed on social media.
“Jonathan Swan’s facial expressions are all of us,” said one Twitter user.
“Kudos to Swan for pushing back in a way trump* is obviously not used to.”
During the interview, Mr Trump was seen examining a piece of paper which appeared to show data on Covid-19 deaths in the US.
“Well, right here, United States is lowest in numerous categories,” he said. “We’re lower than the world.”
But Mr Swan questioned the accuracy of the data asking: “Lower than the world?”
“Oh, you’re doing death as a proportion of cases,” said the political correspondent. “I’m talking about death as a proportion of population.
“That’s where the US is really bad. Much worse than Germany, South Korea, et cetera.”
To which the President responded: “You can’t – you can’t do that.”
Mr Swan pressed Mr Trump by insisting: “Why can’t I do that?”. He then calmly goes on to explain why he thinks it is relevant to look at deaths by proportion of population.
“It’s surely a relevant statistic to say if the US has X population and X percentage of death of that population,” says Mr Swan.
“In South Korea, for example – 51 million population, 300 deaths. It’s like, it’s crazy compared to other countries.”
The president then repeats: “You don’t know that. You don’t know that.”
In another clip from the interview, Mr Trump claimed he had “done more” to improve the lives of black people in the US than the late civil rights leader John Lewis.
Trump claims he has ‘done more for black Americans’ than John Lewis
Also in the interview, Mr Trump dismissed the legacy of the late Congressman and accused him of having made a “big mistake” by not coming to the American president’s inauguration ceremony.
Mr Lewis – who died aged 80 last month after fighting racism all his life – said at the time that he did not see the billionaire businessman as as a “legitimate president”. Later, during debates over immigration, he labelled Mr Trump a racist.