ABC News correspondent already concerned about coverage if Trump runs in 2024 because he is ‘essentially an anti-democratic candidate’

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump. Sean Rayford/Getty Images
  • ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl is already thinking about a possible Trump 2024 run.
  • The author of “Betrayal” told outlets that reporting on a second Trump campaign would be challenging.
  • “You’re covering someone who is running in a system, that is trying to undermine that very system,” he said.

Journalists gearing up for the 2024 presidential election are already starting to prepare for the possibility of a second Trump campaign — a prospect that could pose the “greatest challenge ever facing campaign reporters,” according to ABC News’s chief Washington correspondent and author Jonathan Karl. 

The longtime reporter and author of “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show” offered his thoughts on the hypothetical in a series of media interviews earlier this month while promoting his new book, which details the final year of Donald Trump’s tumultuous presidency.

In a lengthy interview with Deadline and in an on-air appearance with CNN’s Brian Stelter, Karl discussed the challenges of reporting responsibly on Trump, whom he called “essentially an anti-democratic candidate.” 

“How do you cover a candidate who is running both against whoever the Democratic candidate is but also running against the very democratic system that makes all of this possible?” Karl posited during the Deadline interview.

The media struggled to cover Trump — a never-before-seen kind of American executive — during both his candidacy and presidency. Meanwhile, Trump himself stoked outrage toward and skepticism of journalists and news outlets in order to discredit negative stories about himself.

Throughout his time in office, Trump averaged multiple lies per day, ramping up his rhetoric and misinformation, particularly surrounding the 2020 election, until it culminated in the deadly January 6 Capitol attack. 

But Trump’s continued obsession with “the Big Lie” and his numerous attempts to overturn the 2020 election have journalists and experts alike worriedly wondering what a Trump 2024 campaign might look like.

“I think it’s tremendously challenging, because…he is just saying things that are not true, that are designed to misinform, that are designed to erode credibility and belief in our electoral system,” Karl told Deadline. “And it’s actually dangerous.”

“So how do you cover a debate? How do you cover a speech? How do you sit down for a long live interview with him as a candidate?” he added.

Karl, who served as Chief White House Correspondent for ABC News from December 2012 through the end of Trump’s administration, made similar comments during his CNN appearance earlier this week.

“You’re covering someone who is running in a system, that is trying to undermine that very system,” he told CNN’s Stelter. “Somebody who is going to be perpetually lying.”

“He is consumed and obsessed with 2020 and trying to convince the world that that election was somehow corrupt, that it was filled with fraud, that he actually won it,” he continued. “As journalists, we can’t be a conduit for that lie.”

Trump made headlines over the weekend when he once again hinted at a possible 2024 run.

“I think if I run, I’ll get it,” he said on a Fox Business appearance. “Look, I have a 94, 95%, even in the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), I had a 98% approval rating. So if I decide to run, I’ll get it very easily.”

“Most people have said if I run, they won’t run against me so I think that’s good,” he added.

But Karl has his doubts about whether the onetime president will really make another run for the top seat.

“I think he wants to make us believe he’s running because it keeps him relevant, keeps him generating attention for himself,” Karl told CNN. “But I’m not sure he really wants to do it again.”

“For all his delusions about 2020, the last thing he really wants to do is lose again,” he added.

A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.