Four years ago, Washington’s political class was convinced that Donald Trump would lose to opponent Hillary Clinton. Some went so far as to predict that after the all-but-certain defeat, Trump just might launch his own TV network. There was even a Financial Times report that Jared Kushner, the candidate’s son-in-law, had approached “one of the media industry’s top dealmakers about the prospect of setting up a Trump television network after the presidential election in November.”

Instead, Kushner and Trump set up the worst presidential administration in U.S. history.

Trump World’s impetus to produce compelling video entertainment, nonetheless, endures, as Trump made plain on Tuesday. “60 Minutes” star Lesley Stahl stopped by the White House for an interview that Trump cut off after about 45 minutes, according to The Post. Apparently, Stahl’s “tone” didn’t please the president.

What followed was predictable. Attacks, that is. Like this one:

That’s a smear, considering that the video in the tweet was taken just after the interview — and Stahl had a mask on before the interviews.

That’s a good way to promote “60 Minutes.”

In a Fox Business Network interview Wednesday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said the White House has video of the entire interaction with Stahl. He also said something else that was apparently designed to diminish Stahl: “Listen, when you have a ’60 Minutes’ reporter, they should be a reporter, not an opinion journalist. And — and she came across more like an opinion journalist than a real reporter.”

Bingo! With that little judgment, the chief of staff put his finger on central drama of Trump accountability journalism: His actions are so outrageous, his incompetence so stunning, his lies so unrelenting, his disregard for others so galling that reporters who press him on all of the above look like opinion journalists, even when they’re just trying to correct the record on the fly. A good example comes from last week’s NBC News town hall, in which Savannah Guthrie pressed Trump on a range of issues, including health care. After an audience member asked Trump about protecting coverage of preexisting conditions, Trump declared his commitment to this imperative. Guthrie intervened:

Savannah Guthrie: Mr. President, I got a follow-up preexisting conditions. This is such a big issue for voters.
President Trump: It is a big issue for me too.
Savannah Guthrie: In point of fact, your administration is about to go to the Supreme Court to argue to throw out the rest of Obamacare, which includes the protections for preexisting conditions.
President Trump: That’s right. That’s right.
Savannah Guthrie: So your administration is in court right now, trying to get rid of that protection.

Quite a few interruptions there, and Guthrie’s work drew condemnation from Trump fans, who believe that she ambushed the president, that Democratic candidate Joe Biden doesn’t get the same treatment, that this was media bias at work. It’s a good bet that Stahl infuriated Trump with the same routine — which is to say, catching his lies and evasions in real time.

As we’ve written before, the mere recitation of fact regarding Trump comes off as condemnation. On that front, we like to cite the 2016 letter that New York Times lawyer David McCraw sent to team Trump after it threatened a lawsuit against the newspaper for its coverage of his misogyny. Here’s an excerpt:

Mr. Trump has bragged about his non-consensual sexual touching of women. He has bragged about intruding on beauty pageant contestants in their dressing rooms. He acquiesced to a radio host’s request to discuss Mr. Trump’s own daughter as a “piece of ass.” Multiple women not mentioned in our article have publicly come forward to report on Mr. Trump’s unwanted advances. Nothing in our article has had the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.

If Meadows read that, he might dismiss it as “opinion,” when it’s actually just a rundown of facts.

So whenever Trump exits the presidency, historians might want to add the muddling of journalistic distinctions to his “achievements."

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