If you have been paying literally any attention to the news over the last day or the last week or really the last many years, you are well aware that Donald Trump is profoundly stupid and/or mentally ill and/or suffering from (not even early-onset, but just regular-old-onset, he’s 71 years old) dementia. From all accounts, those surrounding the president understand that he’s unfit to be president, and go to impressive lengths to limit his exposure to situations—such as having to talk to reporters—where this unfitness is made apparent. The few interviews he does are invariably word salad, and not the good kind of salad, but the bad kind, from the ’70s, with Jell-O. So my underlying thesis statement here is that it would be good if Trump, who is attending the Alabama-Georgia title game in Atlanta tonight, did what all presidents have always done when they attend big sporting events and submitted to a brief televised interview, because it would be good to expose a wider audience, including those who may not consume any news or believe what they do consume, to his verbal incontinence.
“We’re still taking to the White House. I don’t get the sense he’s going to do an interview,” Stephanie Druley, ESPN senior vice president for events and studio programs, said Sunday. “We will, obviously, show him at the game when we see where he is sitting.”
There’s obviously background here that would make a Trump interview of specific interest. The president has spent much of his last few months warring with (black) football players over protests and with (a black employee of) ESPN for her Twitter comments, with the White House actually calling for Jemele Hill’s firing and Trump blaming ESPN’s declining numbers on its politics.
But we will be deprived of the pathos (and utter failure of ethos) of Trump speaking extemporaneously about football or ESPN, or his reactions to the planned protests that are expected to take place outside and inside the stadium, or to any potential gesture from halftime performer Kendrick Lamar, because the president is scared of facing even the most anodyne interaction with anyone outside his circle. Sad, because there goes even the remote possibility of a very petty interviewer pointing out that ESPN’s audience numbers were actually up in 2017, something the president isn’t able to say about his own ratings.