And, yes, indeed, the whole interview is conducted with loud running water in the soundtrack. Now, Trump has other places in Trump Tower to do interviews. He did his "Fox News Sunday" interview on the same day, in Trump Tower, in a quiet space in front of some lovely windows. Trump had to have wanted that sound effect. I'm guessing he's used to doing business next to that distracting waterfall and knows how to ignore it while it messes with the other person's hearing and concentration. (Perhaps it unsettles some people with a feeling of needing to go to the bathroom.)
Making a recording, Dickerson had to have been additionally distracted knowing that he was devoting all his effort into making what was going to be a decidedly inferior product. I thought I could hear the strain in Dickerson's voice as he soldiered on.
This happened on Friday. Was it an April Fool's joke and Dickerson lacked the nerve to demand decent accommodations? We were laughing at how absurd it was.
Anyway, you can check out the video recording here. And here's the transcript. I'll just call attention to a couple things that caught my ear.
First, abortion. Based on the confusion last week, Trump had to be ready for the abortion question — "What would you do to further restrict women's access to abortions as president?" — and he answered incoherently:
TRUMP: Well, look, I just -- I know where you're going. And I just want to say, a question was asked to me. And it was asked in a very hypothetical, and it was said illegal, illegal. I have been told by some people that was an older line answer and that was an answer that was given on the basis of an older line from years ago, very -- on a very conservative basis. But...What does that mean — "an older line answer"? Dickerson breaks in to connect him to his "original answer... about punishing women":
TRUMP: But I was asked as a hypothetical, hypothetically, hypothetically. The laws are set now on abortion. And that's the way they're going to remain until they're changed.Yes, it was a hypothetical. If there were no right to have an abortion, would Trump want a law that punished the woman? He'd said yes. Now, he's saying "The laws are set," because there is a right to abortion, but he's looking forward to a time when the laws are "changed." Dickerson pursued him on how much he'd like to see the law changed, and Trump got off the hook with a repetition of "the laws are set."
Dickerson tried asking Trump if abortion is "murder," and Trump was oddly coy: "I have my opinions on it, but I would rather not comment on it."
Dickerson pressed him: "You said you're very pro-life. Pro-life views it that it's abortion -- that abortion is murder."
Trump stayed weirdly coy: "But I do have my opinions on it. I would rather -- I just don't think it's an appropriate forum."
Dickerson tried again: "But you don't disagree with that proposition that it's murder?"
Again, Trump was coy: "What proposition?"
Dickerson answered: "That abortion is murder?"
Trump finally answered — "No, I don't disagree with it" — but Dickerson did nothing with it.
The second thing that caught my ear — over all that waterfall noise — was the discussion of the post-primary struggle for delegates. I've been harping on this line from the NYT story about Trump's "unity meeting" with the RNC: "But when Mr. Priebus explained that each campaign needed to be prepared to fight for delegates at each state’s convention, Mr. Trump turned to his aides and suggested that they had not been doing what they needed to do."
Dickerson called attention to that:
DICKERSON: There was reporting, at this meeting at the RNC, that you seemed a little upset with your own team's delegate operation, that they're not in this fight as much as they should be. Is that right?A serious attack on the NYT.
TRUMP: That's false reporting...
... other than I mentioned that Louisiana, which really bothers me, because the people of Louisiana were amazing to me. I was not expected to win Louisiana. And I did look at my people. I said, well, wait a minute, folks. You know, we should have maybe done better, except I also said, I won the state, and I think there's a real legal consequence to winning a state and not getting as many delegates. That's nonsense. And you know what? Everyone agrees with me. Everyone agrees with me.So Trump concentrates on the idea that he's entitled to delegates and that he shouldn't need to fight for them, shouldn't need to fight for his share of the delegates. Dickerson then asked a question that's similar to what I'd said when I read the NYT story.
DICKERSON: Well, a lot of people in the game who know this game, who play it...
TRUMP: I don't care about the game. I care about the people. And when you go in and win a state, and then you don't get the delegates?
DICKERSON: One of the things you're saying...
TRUMP: Now, I got some. I go some. I got many, but I didn't get the number that I should be entitled to.
I'd said: "Trump... presents himself as a businessman with a lifetime's worth of skill and savvy, and he offers to plug BUSINESSMAN into the role of President. He's got an awful lot of confidence that this will be a wonderful experience for us, that it will make America great again. But it looks as though the businessman had not yet noticed that the fight for delegates extends beyond the primary/caucus day and requires campaign people on the ground who know the local rules and how to play the game." And, in another post: "Trump has a lot of pride in his knowledge of how things work in the real world — how China is "killing us" in these trade deals, etc. etc. — other politicians are naive and he's the one man who can bring expertise in handling wily people who are trying to take advantage. But the real world of this delegate game has brought him up short. It must really hurt his pride, privately, and it hurts his image publicly."
So I noticed the resonance when Dickerson said:
DICKERSON: Your argument about the presidency is, you will come into a new system, learn about it fast, and win like nobody has ever won before. With this delegate fight, it's a new system, you got to get up to speed on it. Do you feel like you're going to win like never before, because Ted Cruz just took these delegates in Louisiana?Trump just ignored the premise of the question and took to minimizing the losses in the fight for delegates — "John, you're talking about one state" — and switched to talking about how he's been winning in the primaries and how he's won so many more votes than Cruz and that's what should count at the convention.
In short, Dickerson got very little out of Trump. The old waterfall trick seems to have worked.