- Martha on interviewing Trump: “He has an energy that is very interesting as an interviewer. .. he has a way of darting across a number of topics in his answers. You can go in a number of different ways to follow up because he’s touching on four, five, six things in an answer.”
EXCLUSIVE: Martha MacCallum on What It’s Like to Interview Trump
May 04, 2017 // 10:10am
Fresh off her busy week on the road, Martha MacCallum chatted with Insider about her big interview with President Donald Trump, the launch of her new primetime show on Fox News Channel and more.
Take a look at the Q&A below and don’t miss “The Story with Martha MacCallum,” weeknights at 7pm ET.
You’ve interviewed President Trump before, along with many presidential candidates and White House officials over the years. But how did it feel to interview a sitting president at the White House?
“I realized the day before: this is the first time I’m in the White House interviewing a sitting president, the 45th person to hold the job. It’s a historic moment just to sit there and look across at someone who is part of that panoply of the history our country. It definitely struck me as a significant moment for me.”
What’s different about interviewing President Trump?
“He has an energy that is very interesting as an interviewer. Most people take in your question, they try to answer it, then you follow up. But he has a way of darting across a number of topics in his answers. You can go in a number of different ways to follow up because he’s touching on four, five, six things in an answer.”
How does that unpredictability affect how you prepare for the interview as a journalist?
“With him, it sort of takes on a life of its own because he really engages in conversation with you. You go in there with as much as you can in your head and a few things in front of you and then rely on the research you’ve done. You really can’t anticipate what he’s going to say. You have to be ready to engage, sort of like fencing. It’s very different.
Are there any behind-the-scenes moments you could share from the interview?
“Anyone in the room, the president took the time to take a picture with them. That struck me. I think he recognizes it’s an important moment for any American to be in that special place, the People’s House, and he wants them to enjoy that moment. Keep in mind, his people are looking at him going, ‘Um, Mr. President, we’re an hour late.'”
On “The First 100 Days,” you were able to talk to voters at town hall events in Florida, North Carolina and last week in Ohio. What were some of your takeaways from Americans outside the bubble?
“We wanted to talk to people in counties that either flipped or went for President Trump. I would say overwhelmingly in those groups, the people who voted for him remain very supportive. They like the action he’s taking. The one thing we did pick up disappointment in across the board was in health care. I think people want to see that get across the finish line, they want to see some reform.”
Your new show, “The Story with Martha MacCallum,” is in its debut week. How’d you come up with the name?
“I thought about how we – as producers and reporters – all speak to each other each day. We say, ‘did you see this story?’ or ‘there’s a lot of back-story there.’ We use the word ‘story’ so much. We are storytellers and we want to witness this moment in time for our audience.”
The program airs between “Special Report” and “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” two powerhouse shows of their own. How do you see “The Story” fitting into the new primetime lineup?
“I feel like it’s our duty as a news program to dig a little deeper into some of these stories. I want viewers to walk away feeling like they learned something. Our story count may be a bit smaller, but we really want to get deeper analysis, so that if you watch Fox for the entire evening, you feel like each show is giving you something a little bit different.”