Throw Out the Battleplan

George Stephanopoulos

Lesson time 09:34 min

Get the details on how George prepared for and conducted his interview with President Trump. He describes the intense preparation required to challenge the president on falsehoods and how he had to be ready to ask tough questions at any moment.

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Topics include: Throw Out the Battleplan * The Oval Office Interview * The Beast


[UPBEAT MUSIC] - I had the chance to spend 30 hours with President Trump, over the course of 30 hours with President Trump for a major interview. And it was the kind of thing where, obviously I'd been preparing for it every single day by just keeping up on the news and keeping up on his presidency. Also, I prepared for that. My guess is that interview with President Trump was probably my 45th or 46th interview with him. I first interviewed him probably in 1999 when he was first flirting with running for president. So I had interviewed him dozens and dozens of times, probably 46 times just between his 2015 run and that point as president. So there was a lot of preparation there, and a lot of history there as well. But even with a subject like that who I knew well, the White House and the president is something I cover every single day, when you're preparing for a big interview like that, it takes intense preparation. Reviewing all those past interviews and seeing how he handled the questions. Frankly in his case, the falsehoods he had told before so you'd be prepared for that if they came up again, because he tends to repeat himself as well. And you know, one of the things I've learned is that-- I don't want to use too inflated an analogy, but like a battle plan for war. You have to have that plan going in knowing full well, from that first question on, you might have to throw it out the window and go with what you're given in that moment. [DRAMATIC MUSIC] That Oval Office encounter is a perfect example of what I meant by being ready to throw out the battle plan. This was the beginning of the day. The big sit down, the hour-long sit down was supposed to be several hours later. This was the beginning of the morning where I was just meeting him as he was coming out of his bedroom, down the elevator, walk him to the Oval Office. And he was going to give me a quick tour of the Oval Office, the flags and the desk and do a bit of a show and tell. But I could tell from the minute he stepped out of the elevator that he was in a bad mood. And he'd actually seen "GMA" that morning. I wasn't on "GMA" that morning because I was at the White House. But he had seen "GMA" that morning and they had done a story about some bad poll numbers for the president. - I watched your show this morning. I watched Good Morning America. And they had something about the polling. And it's really suppression polling. It's fake polling. But in that case, it was just made up polling. - He was complaining about that. And I knew this was deeply on his mind because the night before, I had flown back from a campaign stop with him in, I think it was Iowa, where we spent the whole plane ride back on Air Force One, just me and him, and he was eating Starbursts. I remember that, he was eating Starburst candy and watching Fox News. And they were reporting on his poll numbers, which weren't so good at the time. A...

About the Instructor

Legendary interviewer and broadcaster George Stephanopoulos has navigated challenging interviews for more than 30 years—as former White House communications director and presently as co-anchor of Good Morning America. Now he’s teaching you how to project confidence under pressure and draw the best value from your own professional and personal interactions, becoming a stronger, more intentional communicator.

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George Stephanopoulos

Award-winning interviewer George Stephanopoulos teaches you his techniques for producing authentic, meaningful conversations.

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