Donald Trump has taken what was supposed to be an appearance in front of an African-American congregation in Detroit and turned into a scripted interview that will be edited for broadcast by his own campaign.
Instead of speaking to the congregation at Great Faith Ministries International, Mr. Trump will be interviewed by its pastor in a session that will be closed to the public and news media, with questions submitted in advance. And instead of letting Mr. Trump be his freewheeling self, his campaign has prepared lengthy answers for the submitted questions, consulting black Republicans to make sure he says the right things.
An eight-page draft script obtained by The New York Times shows 12 questions that Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, the church’s pastor, intends to ask Mr. Trump during the taped question-and-answer session, as well as the responses Mr. Trump is being advised to give.
The interview will be aired about a week later on the Impact Network, Bishop Jackson’s Christian cable television channel. The official said several Trump aides would be working with the network to edit the taped interview so that the final version reflected the campaign’s wishes.
It now makes sense why Trump decided not to address the congregation and banned the press from the event. Donald Trump will use the scripted interview as propaganda. Trump couldn’t take the risk of having journalists at the event who would blow the whistle on the con that he is trying to pull.
When a campaign is editing an interview so that the final product reflects their wishes, that’s not journalism. It’s propaganda.
This tactic is straight out the Roger Ailes school of presidential campaign media production. The Trump campaign doesn’t want their candidate to face real African-American voters, so they are designing a set piece and hoping that the media gets fooled into covering it as real news.
The Trump campaign thinks the free press should behave like state-run media, and staged propaganda interviews such as this one are an escalation of Trump’s war on the First Amendment.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association