On the day that New York City experienced its single highest death toll related to coronavirus, a New York Post reporter at presidential pandemic briefing asked Trump if he would pardon attempted murderer, animal abuser, and subject of Netflix's Tiger King docuseries, Joe Exotic.
Trump joked that his son, Don, was also a dedicated viewer of the show, before saying he'd "take a look" into a pardon.
In the past Trump has pardoned the controversial former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and commuted the sentence of Rod Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois who tried to sell the vacant Senate seat left behind by President Obama in 2008.
Tiger King has been a huge ratings win for Netflix, with more than 34 million views in its first 10 days of streaming. It has also been criticized for making, Carole Baskin, the woman Joe Exotic (aka Joe Maldonado-Passage) solicited to have murdered, the de facto villain of the show. Maldonado-Passage is currently serving a 22 year sentence for attempted murder and a number of wildlife violations, including killing six tigers.
A reporter just asked Trump if he'd consider a pardon for Joe Exotic. Trump says he'll "take a look." #TigerKing pic.twitter.com/9S2ssZGzPL— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 8, 2020
The friendly back-and-forth about between the Post reporter and Trump, comes amidst a series of press conferences marked by contentious exchanges between the press and the president. On March 30th, Yamiche Alcindor, the PBS White House correspondent, asked Trump about a lack of testing in the United States as compared to other countries, including South Korea.
“You should be saying congratulations instead of asking a really snarky question, because I know exactly what you mean by that,” Trump said.
He has also sparred with CNN's Jim Acosta, who he called a "minor player" when the reporter asked if Trump had downplayed the seriousness of the virus during many of his press briefings. In fact, many public health officials agree that Trump should have done more to encourage social distancing and quarantining early on. Medical professionals and scientists have also taken issue with his repeated claims about the effectiveness of treatments like anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which has not been approved by the FDA for treatment of COVID-19.
Thus far, there has been no update on an official presidential pardon for Joe Exotic, but honestly anything is possible. I'm so tired.