If we were being forgiving, we could say that maybe, maybe CNN’s first lengthy post-debate interview with Donald Trump last night was legitimized by Trump’s front-runner status. Maybe. But two?
In the first eight-minute interview with Chris Cuomo immediately following the debate, we learned some things, like why Trump won’t release his tax returns.
“I’m always audited by the IRS,” said Trump, “which I think is very unfair. I don’t know maybe because of religion..”
Chris Cuomo presses for clarification. “What do you mean because of religion?”
“Well, maybe because of the fact that I’m a strong Christian and I feel strong about it and there’s a bias,” explains Trump.
If only the expression on Cuomo’s face counted as a rebuttal, but alas, Trump’s claim to strong Christianity went unchecked. Cuomo did follow up on the tie-in between religion and taxes.
“You think you can get audited for being a strong Christian?” he asks.
“You see what’s happened. You have many strong religious groups that are complaining about that. They’ve been complaining about it for a long time,” replies Trump.
“So release the ones that aren’t audited. Seems like an easy answer for you,” returns Cuomo.
Oh no. Trump “can’t do that.”
Other important things we learned:
But why limit the space in which Trump gets to make preposterous claims to just one post-debate interview? Anderson Cooper and his panel had their own turn with Trump a little while later.
The response on Twitter went from is this happening disbelief to this is happening disbelief to sad factual realities to snark rather deftly.
Here are some of our favorites:
CNN has had Trump on for two lengthy interviews post-debate to give him a chance to salvage himself. This is ridiculous.
— Ellen L. Carmichael (@ellencarmichael) February 26, 2016
I can’t believe Trump is still on CNN — second extended interview since the debate, allowing him to attack unchallenged.
— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) February 26, 2016
CNN's decision to air an extended interview with Trump after a debate dominated by Trump is why he doesn't need to pay for advertising.
— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) February 26, 2016
Trump had a bad debate, but luckily for him CNN is giving him a long solo rebuttal slot in an interview with Chris Cuomo
— David A. Graham (@GrahamDavidA) February 26, 2016
CNN has now given Trump two post-debate long solo interview segments & are setting up questions to let him personally assault everyone else.
— Jason Martin (@GuyNamedJason) February 26, 2016
Wow…CNN with a SECOND interview with Trump post-debate. We've officially entered in-kind contribution territory.
— Steve Deace (@SteveDeaceShow) February 26, 2016
Trump has now gotten about as much time in his two post-debate interviews (in under and hour) on CNN as he did speaking on stage
— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere) February 26, 2016
Nice of CNN to throw Trump an after party like that…
— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) February 26, 2016
was nice of CNN to give Trump a 10 minute closing statement just now
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) February 26, 2016
BREAKING: CNN reporters lining up for their Press Secretary in a Trump White House interviews. #CNNDebate I
— Jennifer Harris (@jwharris) February 26, 2016
Trump is on CNN welfare.
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) February 26, 2016
Its official. CNN is your 24-hour Trump channel.
— Joe Heim (@JoeHeim) February 26, 2016
At this rate, Trump will be moderating the next CNN debate.
— Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) February 26, 2016