Pence defuses bombs against Trump: ‘Chuck, I don’t accept your premise, and I don’t think most Americans do either’

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Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” continued the rich tradition of Sunday talk show hosts eschewing journalism in the quest to score points against President Donald Trump and his administration.

Vice President Mike Pence was a featured guest on Sunday and Todd questioned him about why the president was “trying to undermine the guidance” states were given to counter the COVID-19 outbreak by encouraging swing states to “liberate” themselves from heavy-handed Democratic governors.

In the process of presenting a loaded question, Todd fully misrepresented the actions some of these states have taken as “following the president’s guidelines,” even though Trump did not instruct the governor of Michigan to dictate what store can and cannot sell.

“Let me ask you about the president’s tweets on Friday, he wants to liberate Minnesota, liberate Michigan, liberate Virginia,” Todd began. “All three states have issued guidelines that follow the national advice you have been giving them. They’re following the president’s guidelines to the best of their ability. Can you explain what the president is trying to liberate Minnesota from? I don’t quite understand that use of language.”

Pence tried to keep the focus on the president’s intent to “reopen America.”

“Well, no one wants to reopen America more than President Donald Trump, and I think the American people have known that,” he replied. “From weeks ago when the president declared that important balance, we have to make sure that the cure isn’t worse than the disease. Because the reality is that for all of the sacrifice the American people have made, sacrifices that literally have saved lives, the truth is that there are real costs, including the health and well being of the American people, to continue to go through the shutdown that we’re in today. And so the president laid out new guidelines for every state in the country.”

As the vice president attempted to lay out the new guidelines, essentially moving on from the “gotcha” question,” the NBC anchor interrupted the important information to press on the issue of Trump’s tweets about liberating the swing states.

“But what’s he tweeting? What’s he tweeting?” Todd interjected, with a smug smile on his face.

“I have given you a lot of leeway,” he said, continuing with that line before making a rare correction. “I have not been wanting to interrupt you — that’s not true, I always want to jump in on some things” — I have given you a lot of leeway. Why is the president trying to undermine the guidance you’ve been laying out? He laid out this guidance on Thursday and undermined it on Friday.”

Again, Pence failed to buy into the dishonest assertion.

“Chuck, I don’t accept your premise, and I don’t think most Americans do either,” he told Todd. “The president’s made it clear, he wants to reopen America, and we laid out guidelines for every state in the country to safely and responsibly reopen their economy at the time and manner of their choosing.”

Pence continued to lay out the administration forward-looking agenda of getting the country back to work in “a safe and responsible way.”

Intent on scoring a point after Pence’s successful block, Todd got in a closing jab that the president “wants to take credit for reopening the economy.”

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Tom Tillison

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