Nel's New Day

March 22, 2020

Take Press Briefings off the Air

Bored while you “shelter-in-place”? Start a blog. That’s what Margaret and Helen did 13 years ago, and they’re still going strong.

The Elephant in the Room is Donald J Trump: Stop asking him the questions. He doesn’t know the answers! #COVID19

“Margaret, I get it. I really do. We are in the middle of a pandemic. Everyone is scared and things are a bit crazy. Of course, the President should address the American people. Of course, he should. But just not this one. It’s not helping. It really isn’t.

“There is nothing decent about this man. He has cheated on all three of his wives. His career is filled with lawsuits, bankruptcies, claims of racism, tax evasion, discrimination, even rape. Nothing. Nothing about this man is honorable much less tolerable. His only claim to fame is taking joy in firing people on national television.

“How he became President I’ll never understand, but he did. And since becoming President over three years ago, he’s proven time and time again that he is pretty horrible at his job. In fact, if I were his boss, I’d fire him. I mean when he fabricated stories about the size of his inauguration, I would have just rolled my eyes and wondered if I had hired the wrong person. When he threw paper towels at hurricane victims, I probably would have at least sat him down. Told him he was out of line. Maybe written him up and given him a warning. But when he suggested that Nazi’s running over a woman with a car should be given some slack because they might be very fine people… well then… then, I would have fired his ass.

“But I’m not his boss… well technically I guess I am, but you know… Representative government and all. So, he’s still there and now there’s this pandemic and for some reason he insists on crawling out of his drug induced coma each day at 11:30 to address the American people. And even though he is surrounded by a bunch of experts, the media keeps asking him the questions. The fact that he constantly makes shit up doesn’t seem to stop them. They keep asking questions and he’s keeps making shit up.

“I’ve got a suggestion. How about we stop asking the elephant in the room questions and instead direct them to the experts standing behind him? What do they say, fool me once? Well he’s fooled them about 15,000 times and they just keep asking. Stop asking the asshat questions! Ask the experts. After all, millions of lives depend on the answers being correct.

“And let’s be clear. When I say expert, I don’t mean Mike Pence. His version of social distancing is to quarantine in Trump’s ass. And somehow from inside Trump’s ass he still manages to pat Trump on the back while simultaneously giving him a standing ovation. No. Mike Pence is the expert in one thing and one thing only – brown nosing. I’m talking Dr. Anthony Fauci or Dr. Deborah Birx or even that Chad guy. Who is Chad again?

“We need answers. We need them desperately. Millions of lives are depending on those answers. I am begging the White House Press Corps to stop asking Trump the fucking questions.

“We need answers. Not lies. Really. I mean it.”

Rachel Maddow goes farther than Margaret by asking that the media broadcast only truthful comments from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). (It would be very brief.)  Even in past crises, Maddow provided a fact-based perspective on the news, but she expressed this opinion about the lethal covid-19 crisis:

“Even when [DDT is] talking about what he has done or what he will do, he’s consistently lying and giving you happy talk that is stuff that the federal government isn’t actually doing. And it’s making people around the country count on the fact the federal government is doing that stuff when they’re not. If it were up to me and it’s not, I would stop putting those briefings on live TV. Not out of spite but because it’s misinformation. If the president does end up saying anything true, you can run it as tape. But if he keeps lying like he has been every day on stuff this important, all of us should stop broadcasting it. Honestly, it’s going to cost lives. Honestly, it’s going to cost lives.”

DDT can no longer use rallies to attract followers so he uses the daily press briefings for this purpose. When he’s not spouting generalities with no statistics or other specifics, he’s lying and ranting against anyone who opposes him. The people he calls to speak also avoid any clear information such as number of people testing, amount of supplies, and any assistance for states.

In the WaPo, Margaret Sullivan echoed Maddow’s message.

“More and more each day, President Trump is using his daily briefings as a substitute for the campaign rallies that have been forced into extinction by the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“These White House sessions—ostensibly meant to give the public critical and truthful information about this frightening crisis—are in fact working against that end.

“Rather, they have become a daily stage for Trump to play his greatest hits to captive audience members. They come in search of life-or-death information, but here’s what they get from him instead:

“● Self-aggrandizement. When asked how he would grade his response to the crisis, the president said, “I’d rate it a 10.” Absurd on its face, of course, but effective enough as blatant propaganda

“● Media-bashing. When NBC News’s Peter Alexander lobbed him a softball question in Friday’s briefing — “What do you say to Americans who are scared?” — Trump went on a bizarre attack. “I say, you’re a terrible reporter,” the president said, launching into one of his trademark “fake news” rants bashing Alexander’s employer….

“● Exaggeration and outright lies. Trump has claimed that there are plenty of tests available (there aren’t); that Google is “very quickly” rolling out a nationwide website to help manage coronavirus treatment (the tech giant was blindsided by the premature claim); that the drug chloroquine, approved to treat malaria, is a promising cure for the virus and “we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately.” (It hasn’t been approved for this use, and there is no evidence to demonstrate its effectiveness in fighting the virus.)

“Trump is doing harm and spreading misinformation while working for his own partisan political benefit—a naked attempt to portray himself as a wartime president bravely leading the nation through a tumultuous time, the FDR of the 21st century.

“The press—if it defines its purpose as getting truthful, useful, non-harmful information to the public, as opposed to merely juicing its own ratings and profits — must recognize what is happening and adjust accordingly. (And that, granted, is a very big “if.”)

“Business as usual simply doesn’t cut it. Minor accommodations, like fact-checking the president’s statements afterward, don’t go nearly far enough to counter the serious damage this man is doing to the public’s well-being.

“Radical change is necessary: The cable networks and other news organizations that are taking the president’s briefings as live feeds should stop doing so….

“’Rather than covering Trump live, [Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University] recommended, among other things, that the media should ‘attend carefully to what he says’ and subject it to verification before blasting it out to the public.

“It’s important to remember how much Trump’s tune has changed on the coronavirus, from blithely dismissive to self-importantly serious….

“This is what he was saying about the virus in public as recently as Feb. 27: ‘It’s going to disappear. One day—it’s like a miracle—it will disappear.’

“We know, without any doubt, that Trump was ignoring intelligence reports that warned about the likelihood of a pandemic at the same time he was cooing these baseless reassurances. But now he’s claiming that he knew the problem was a pandemic long before others did, and that he took every step possible….

“But Trump has proved, time after time, that he doesn’t care about truth, that he puts his financial and political self-interest above that of the public, and that he has no understanding of the role of the press in a democracy. And now lives are on the line.

“The news media, at this dangerous and unprecedented moment in world history, must put the highest priority on getting truthful information to the public. “Taking Trump’s press conferences as a live feed works against that core purpose.”

[Contrast Helen’s latest “elephant” with her post from ten years ago, “The Elephant in the Room Is a Kangaroo.”]

Today: United States (all 50 states and DC) confirmed covid-19 cases – 32,783 with 8,576 today; deaths – 416 with 114 today.

Country: 336,075 confirmed covid-19 cases; 14,613 deaths; the most deaths in China, Italy, and the U.S. 

 

 

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