As evidenced by the pervasive trending of calls to “boycott” NBC News and its flagship program Meet the Press, the weekend witnessed a significant surge in the expression of fury and criticism, primarily from the left side of the political spectrum.
A large number of angry comments were posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) and Facebook, garnering considerable attention throughout the week and into the weekend. This increase in online activity was precipitated by the news that Kristen Welker, the newly appointed presenter of Meet the Press, would conduct an interview with Donald Trump, marking her first appearance as the moderator of this widely viewed Sunday program.
Before airing the entire program, NBC News released several preview clips of the interview, in which Welker asked questions about the contents of a message Trump had left for President Joe Biden and the former president’s concerns about his own age.
Since the initial announcement and through the most recent segments that aired on Saturday, progressives, liberals, and Democrats have voiced their strong disapproval on social media platforms regarding the decision to give Trump a platform on Meet the Press.
Commencing with a comparison involving Adolf Hitler, the instances presented below have garnered significant attention in terms of likes, retweets, and/or replies.
— 😱 Scary Larry 😱 🇺🇦✊🏻🇺🇸🗽 (@aintscarylarry) September 16, 2023
What a fu**ing joke. As if @MeetThePress wasn’t on its last breaths you pull this idiotic publicity stunt. Don’t give them the ratings they desperately seek. #BoycottMeetThePress https://t.co/q0CW0K54I8
— Dave Arendt ☮️ 🇺🇦 (@ArendtDave) September 13, 2023
Hey @NBCNews…this is a terrible idea.
If you can't interview Trump live, don't bother. If it's not live, thar means that your basically doing a Trump campaign ad.
No thanks. And…#BoycottMeetThePress https://t.co/kfPPWDcVVT
— Cat Scott (@CGScott4) September 13, 2023
She's jumped on the Trump Train, and will now be using her platform to confirm the LIES of Trump and the GOP
All for ratings.
— Oral Carter 🌊 (@oralcarter376) September 14, 2023
A significant portion of the tweets with the designated hashtag were retweets from Dean Obeidallah, who conveyed harsh criticism, and Aaron Rupar, who posted numerous video clips. However, despite the absence of the aforementioned prominent hashtag, a large number of influential individuals also expressed their dissatisfaction and outrage.
"Kristen Welker to Interview Trump For Meet the Press Launch." Nothing like kicking off your new political show with a man who attempted a coup and incited the Jan 6 attack. It's as if corporate media wants FASCISM. Plus she will lose liberals forever. https://t.co/trs3MgQuLO
— (((DeanObeidallah))) (@DeanObeidallah) September 13, 2023
Keith Olbermann, who was terminated from his position at NBC News, described Welker as “irreparably damaged” as a result of her interview.
What a career highlight and honor to help tell the world all about the incredible human and tenacious reporter that is @kwelkernbc. The absolute best of the best.
— Richard Hudock (@richardhudock) September 15, 2023
NBC reported what it believed were some of the top moments of the interview, from Trump’s stand on abortion, to his declaring that he’s not afraid of going to prison:
“Trump said members of his own party “speak very inarticulately” about abortion, and he criticized those who push for abortion bans without exceptions in cases of rape and incest, and to protect the health of the mother.
“I watch some of them without the exceptions, et cetera, et cetera,” he said. “I said, ‘Other than certain parts of the country, you can’t — you’re not going to win on this issue. But you will win on this issue when you come up with the right number of weeks,”” according to the outlet.
While Trump passed on the chance to clarify what kind of legislation he would sign to ban abortion after a certain number of weeks — or if he prefers the issue be solved at the federal level rather than on a state-by-state basis — he repeatedly sought to portray himself as a dealmaker who could unite “both sides” and put the issue to rest.
“We’re going to agree to a number of weeks or months or however you want to define it,” Trump said. “And both sides are going to come together and both sides — both sides, and this is a big statement — both sides will come together. And for the first time in 52 years, you’ll have an issue that we can put behind us.”
NBC added, “Despite facing four trials, Trump told Welker that he’s not consumed with visions of prison.”
“I don’t even think about it,” Trump said. “I’m built a little differently I guess, because I have had people come up to me and say, ‘How do you do it, sir? How do you do it?’ I don’t even think about it.”
But he also came back to the subject on his own accord later in the interview, suggesting it stayed with him.
“When you say, do I lose sleep? I sleep,” he said. “I sleep. Because I truly feel that, in the end, we’re going to win.”
WATCH THE INTERVIEW:
The full Trump Meet the Press interview pic.twitter.com/OpVgWc86YC
— Eric Abbenante (@EricAbbenante) September 17, 2023
The interview covered several significant topics, including the 2020 election and the fate of those responsible for the violence on January 6, 2021.
NBC stated, “Trump delved deep into his decision to press to overturn the 2020 election and took responsibility for it.”
“We have many people, and it’s my choice,” he told Welker, later adding, “It was my decision. But I listened to some people.”
Top administration and campaign lawyers told Trump he had lost the election, and that there was no evidence of fraud. But there were outside attorneys — including several who face legal jeopardy themselves — who helped Trump not only contest the election but collect slates of fake electors in order to upend the electoral vote count in Congress.
He said he didn’t listen to White House and campaign attorneys “because I didn’t respect them as lawyers.” He said those lawyers “turn out to be RINOs [Republicans in name only], or they turn out to be not so good, in many cases.”
“Are you acknowledging you didn’t win?” Welker asked.
“I’m not acknowledging,” he said. “No. I say I won the election.”
Trump faced a series of questions over a comment he made earlier this year, telling a supportive crowd, “I am your retribution.” Asked what it means, Trump talked of having “to protect people,” adding that he views the prison sentences given to some Jan. 6 rioters as unfair when compared with the punishments given to those who participated in racial justice protests during the summer of 2020.
“When I talk about retribution, I’m talking about fairness,” he said. “We have to treat people fairly. These people on Jan. 6, they went — some of them never even went into the building, and they’re being given sentences of, you know, many years.”
Welker followed up with Trump to ask if he will pardon the imprisoned rioters.
“Well, I’m going to look at them, and I certainly might if I think it’s appropriate,” he said. “No, it’s a very, very sad thing. And it’s – they’re dividing the country so badly, and it’s very dangerous.”