Trump’s suggestion that some states rush to reopen schools before summer is not as obviously stupid as his idea about injecting bleach into the human body to fight the coronavirus – almost nothing could be -- but it may well end up being more dangerous, if any governors listen to him.
Donald Trump is embarking on a major PR campaign intended to convince people it’s safe to resume their normal lives, the Associated Press reports. And Trump’s controversial but still widely broadcast afternoon briefings are set to play a central role.
Public-health experts are essentially unanimous that the current level of testing needs to be increased, not just a bit but by several – maybe even many -- magnitudes before it’s safe for people to emerge from their homes. And the only institution capable of the kind of industry-goosing and supply-chain management needed to achieve that is the federal government.
A warm round of applause for Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey and Yasmeen Abutaleb, who instead of simply repeating what Trump said, wrote about the absence of any plan for the widespread national coronavirus testing that public health officials say is essential.
The only really good reason for reporters to show up at Trump's briefings is this: They are the only people allowed in from outside his bubble. They alone can demand the answers the public needs and deserves. And they alone can confront him with the reality that he denies.
Donald Trump made it clearer than ever Thursday evening that he doesn’t understand the crucial role that widespread coronavirus testing plays in getting America back to work again safely. So while he talks a lot about reopening the country “very, very soon,” what he’s actually showing the world, every night, is that he has no idea what it will take to do that.
There's some value in simply confronting Trump with the facts and watching him explode in fury, attacking the questioner, attacking the source, blaming others and generally refusing to take any responsibility for what's actually going on. The facts are his greatest enemy, and the public needs to understand that.
In all the countless hours of bluster and spin, Trump has never once articulated anything remotely like a plausible plan for how we get to the point where it’s safe for people to go back to work again -- beyond some sort of unspecified miracle. It's time reporters demanded and answer to the question: "What's the plan?"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.