Lesley Stahl's 60 Minutes Performance Is Causing Quite A Stir

Veteran journalist Lesley Stahl has been in the business for a while, and has several awards, including a few Emmys, to show for it. The Detroit Free Press calls her a "pioneer for women in the news business," and in September 2020 she began her 31st season on 60 Minutes, having joined the show in March 1991. CBS News also notes that she's interviewed President Donald Trump on more than one occasion — when he was first named the Republican nominee in 2016, during his first television interview as president-elect, and a one-on-one after his second year in office came to an end. 

With all those encounters behind them, we'd like to think that both Stahl and the president would have been more at ease with one another, but it was not the case. Days before that 60 Minutes interview with the veteran journalist, President Donald Trump was already taking to Twitter to tell fans he wasn't happy with her or with the way things had gone when she spoke to him as part of the show's election special. The interview first made waves because Trump famously walked out before it ended — but it turns out there was much more to talk about than just his abrupt departure. He tweeted: "I will soon be giving a first in television history full, unedited preview of the vicious attempted 'takeout' interview of me by Lesley Stahl of @60Minutes. Watch her constant interruptions & anger. Compare my full, flowing and 'magnificently brilliant' answers to their Q's."

Trump wanted Lesley Stahl to 'just be fair'

The interview was so contentious that the White House opted to break an existing agreement it had with CBS to embargo the video and released a copy of the raw footage on social media. It kicks off with Stahl asking the president if he was ready for tough questions, and Trump asking her to "just be fair" (via Politico). Stahl then reminds the president that the last time she interviewed him, he asked her to "bring it on" — but it wasn't the same this time around because, as the president pointed out, "I'm not looking for that" and pointed out that he would not be all right with tough questions.

The edited, 60 Minutes interview that viewers saw on Sunday night, didn't exactly position Lesley Stahl the way the president might have hoped either. Instead, it showed a calm and collected 60 Minutes correspondent who got under Trump's skin; as one Twitter user posted: "Lesley Stahl represents every woman in America. Women showed up to march against him the day he was inaugurated and it will be women who vote him out on Nov 3. Strong women are the backbone of America." Another tweeted: "I am glad Trump leaked the 60 minutes interview earlier. It let us make two videos that got over 4 million views and was the #1 trend in all America and now we get to watch Lesley Stahl dismantle Trump again, followed by Pence looking like a spineless coward!!!" 

Lesley Stahl was criticized by Trump supporters

Lesley Stahl had her critics, too, like fellow journalist, the conservative Bill O'Reilly. He offered his take on the interview, via Twitter: "Here's a fair assessment of the 60 Minutes interviews. Lesley Stahl asked President Trump a series of 'you are screwing up' questions. Norah O'Donnell asked Biden open-ended questions where he was not on the defensive as Mr. Trump was and could give non-specific answers." Actor Randy Quaid also praised the president, posting, "Trump's handling of Lesley Stahl's attempted Fake News hit job was pure genius, a masterful parry; & Trump won debate with appropriate outrage tempered with a stinging syringe of facts. Trump is America's life raft out of this sea of corruption." A Trump fan also tweeted: "This was most horrifically biased interview of your career. You should resign as a journalist. #LeslieStahl"

But that didn't stop the social media praise: "Shoutout to #LesleyStahl the real star of tonight's #60Minutes idk how she didn't walk out of the interview before trump, the way he's talking." Another noted: "Hahah. Trump said Biden can't deal with dictators. Lesley Stahl almost made Trump cry and she's 78 with no weapons, no nation, no army, just her questions and Trump nearly cried." A third tweeted: "Last night was an unmitigated disaster for Trump ... folding like a cheap suit under questioning by Leslie Stahl and then petulantly ending the interview ... How WEAK does someone have to be to look at this man and see STRENGTH?!"