Savannah Guthrie spent most of the NBC News town hall tearing into President Trump with a series of quick-paced, conversational questions that put him on the spot and successfully revealed his evasions in a way that few of his interlocutors have managed.
Ms. Guthrie asked Mr. Trump simple questions that one might pose around the dinner table. For instance, she pressed him to explain why he would amplify a conspiracy theory that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had orchestrated to have SEAL Team 6 killed to cover up the supposedly fake death of Osama bin Laden.
“Why would you send a lie like that to your followers?” Ms. Guthrie asked him of the theory he had retweeted.
“That was a retweet,” Mr. Trump said. “I’ll put it out there.”
“I don’t get that,” she said. “You’re the president. You’re not like someone’s crazy uncle who can retweet whatever.”
Mr. Trump said he relied on social media to circumvent the news media that he believes is unfair to him. “I wouldn’t be able to get the word out,” he said.
Ms. Guthrie interrupted him. “The word is false,” she said.
In another simple but firm exchange, Ms. Guthrie did not accept his answer that he was unfamiliar with the QAnon conspiracy theory, which he has refused on multiple occasions to denounce.
“I just don’t know about QAnon,” Mr. Trump said.
“You do know,” Ms. Guthrie responded, noting that she had explained what the group was to him in real time.
“I don’t know,” he said again, adding, “You tell me all about it, let’s waste a whole show.”
Ms. Guthrie appeared to be successful in pinning down the president simply by following up on the questions she asked, despite his best attempts to evade answering.
“Did you take a test, though, on the day of the debate?” she asked when discussing his coronavirus infection, trying to piece together what had been a murky timeline about when the president took his last negative test before announcing his positive test for the virus on Oct. 2.
“If you ask the doctors, they’ll give you a perfect answer,” Mr. Trump said.
“Did you take a test on the day of the debate, I guess is the bottom line,” she pressed.
“I probably did,” he said.
Ms. Guthrie’s conversational yet piercing interview style appeared to get under the president’s skin.
“Why aren’t you asking Joe Biden questions about why doesn’t he condemn antifa?” Mr. Trump asked her.
“Because you’re here,” she said, matter-of-factly.
“So cute,” Mr. Trump responded, in a condescending tone that was unlikely to endear him to the suburban women voters he has been trying to win back.