Review: Trump interviewed, softly, on WGN America's 'NewsNation'

By Steve Johnson, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

Landing a one-on-one interview with President Trump would put the startup "NewsNation" "in the big time," an executive for the network crowed before the interview aired in Tuesday's first hour of the WGN America national cable newscast.

After seeing the questions anchor Joe Donlon lobbed at the president and the unchallenged assertions and accusations Trump was allowed to make in response, it's safe to say the quest to reach the big time continues.

Not only did Trump not make news during the segment, but it came off as a 15-minute primetime opportunity for the president to repeat campaign talking points without having to answer on matters of fact or logic.

If that's how "NewsNation" rolls, if presenting an interview seemingly unfiltered is how the network delivers on its mantra of "facts, not opinion," then Joe Biden, Trump's Democratic rival for the presidency, should accept the interview offer "NewsNation" said it had made to him and claim his own unchallenged quarter hour.

The Trump interview, conducted Tuesday morning outside the White House, saw the president slag the fitness for office of two-term Vice President Biden, assert that "I've had one of the most successful administrations in history," proclaim "I have been all for masks" during the COVID-19 pandemic and state that the U.S. economy is "coming back faster than any country anywhere in the world."

In the segments chosen for air by "NewsNation," the three-hour nightly Nexstar Media primetime cable newscast produced on the northwest side of Chicago, there was no sign of any stringent follow-up by Donlon, one of the newscast's three lead anchors.


Instead, Donlon at one point called Trump "the most media-savvy president we've had... You understand how the media works." This came after the president had asserted "the press is fake. They don't write the truth."

Presumably, Donlon, a member of the press who reads aloud every night words written by other members of the press, does not think he and his colleagues are "fake," but you wouldn't know it from the praise of Trump's keen media comprehension.

The show does get credit for disclosing that the interview came about because of Trump's previous relationship with WGN America Executive Vice President Sean Compton. Compton produced a regular Trump radio segment more than a decade ago.

That friendship - and Trump's congratulatory tweet a few weeks back on the launching of "NewsNation" - have left some critics wondering about the true impartiality of the "NewsNation" effort, a concern that Tuesday's Trump interview will not alleviate.


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