Yes, it was Trump’s first public acknowledgment of the true scale of the disastrous coronavirus pandemic. But reporters largely ignored that it was accompanied by yet another round of magical thinking on his part.

Subscribe to our newsletter

RECENTLY

Political journalists are still headlining Trump’s nonsense and trying to explain his decision-making. Stop!

Trump repeatedly makes it clear to anyone listening that he has no idea what he's talking about, and no plan to get the country back to normal. But too many political journalists are still working under assumptions that apply to normal presidents and trying to explain his thinking.

Don’t fall for Trump’s effort to recast himself as the benevolent leader of a unified country

After weeks spent angrily downplaying the threat of the coronavirus, Donald Trump is now trying to describe the nation’s inconsistent and still wildly insufficient response as some sort of glorious – even “beautiful” -- expression of national unity.

The question the press should be asking: How will we know when it’s safe to come out again?

Public-health experts say the only way life will return to something like normal is if the government initiates widespread, quick-turnaround, publicly-reported testing for the virus – not just of the sick, but of cross sections of every community. Everything the government does in the short term should be measured against that goal.

How to turn Trump’s daily virus misinformation show into a vector for the truth

Rather than hide Trump's misinformation-filled briefings or broadcast them as is, the cable news networks should respond by doing journalism – in this case, some journalistic jujitsu. Real-time split-screen bullshit-calling would be a negative consequence for Trump -- and a big win for viewers.

What are sports journalists to do? Two views

Should they "cover the many other competitions that Americans struggle with in obscurity"? Or should they continue to write about sports because athletes are a "life force" and we need their vitality even if the games are on hold.

PRIMERS

Made for TV: how Trump dominates the most important medium

Donald Trump embodies the values of reality TV: That life is zero-sum; that if you're not winning you're losing; that the best response to any controversy is to heighten the conflict; and that "reality resets with every tweet or click of the remote." It's allowed him to dominate the political narrative, while reporters are reduced to reviewing the show.
Horse race

Focus on tactics over substance takes all the meaning out of politics

Taking sides is the ultimate sin for political reporters. That’s why "who’s winning?” and “how are the optics?” are vastly preferable topics than “who’s right?” and “is that a good idea?”

FALSE EQUIVALENCE

FACT-CHECKING

Fact-checking needs to make way for reality-testing and gaslighting-fighting

Fact-checking has had huge practical and symbolic value. But as it’s currently practiced at the national level, it feels a bit quaint. Political journalism needs to find a better solution to calling out misinformation and disinformation – and soon.

TIMIDITY

Warren reduced Bloomberg to rubble, but elite political journalists remain focused on stopping Sanders

If the elite political journalist mindset is that the big question is how can Sanders be stopped, and Bloomberg is the only hope, then of course you can’t dump on Bloomberg without dumping on Sanders, too. Regardless of the actual facts.

Suckers for theatrics: The political press sets a new low Barr

Even after a real-time public scolding from their peers, reporters at major news outlets persisted in taking Barr's plainly disingenuous comments at face value, playing up an imaginary breach between the attorney general and the president who are in fact actively colluding in the perversion of justice.

Bloomberg’s outrageous defense of police harassment of young black men gets picked up by the New York Times, sort of

Progressive podcaster Benjamin Dixon posted the audio on Monday afternoon, explaining how Bloomberg’s “racist explanation and justification… shows that he operates from a deeply troubling framework,” and calling for its widespread dissemination. It worked.

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.

Welcome to Press Watch, a collaborative project to monitor political reporting and encourage more responsible, informed and informative campaign and government coverage before the 2020 election. Please read more About This Site and be free with your feedback!

Dan Froomkin

Editor in Chief