Trump on Friday engaged in a bizarre, desperate huckster sales pitch for a drug that has no proven effects on the coronavirus but that he insisted he has a good feeling about. He said it could be a “game-changer.” He was peddling a fake cure in a way that would have gotten him kicked off the Home Shopping Network for inciting federal prosecution for false claims and fraud.
Even though they are more willing than ever to point out Trump’s flaws and lack of credibility, elite Washington- and New York-based journalists still can’t take their eyes off him. Newsrooms need to recenter their coronavirus coverage -- away from the White House.
News organizations should immediately start adding some sort of warning label every time they quote or paraphrase the president – especially when it comes to a life-or-death public-health issue -- to the effect that “some of his assertions indicate either delusion or an attempt to make the public doubt their own sense of reality.”
Trump’s brief foray into presidential behavior on Monday was too little too late, as far as the national media was concerned. His role has been assigned, and it is not the one Trump saw himself playing.
Mainstream journalists seem to have finally acknowledged the direct line of causality between Donald Trump’s delusions and incapacities and the federal government’s disastrous failure to respond to a public-health emergency. But the New York Times is still giving Trump the benefit of the doubt in one major way: By continuing to assume -- against all evidence -- that he is actually trying to do the right thing.
Political reporters have no business anywhere near the coronavirus story. But if there's one thing they do jump all over, it's a president's perceived weakness -- and Trump's botched address Wednesday night may have been a turning point.
Political journalists don’t hate Bernie Sanders because their corporate masters tell them to. They hate him because he is a walking, breathing, sometimes yelling reproof of the sacrifices they have had to make to succeed in their chosen profession.
The main message reporters should convey about Trump and the coronavirus crisis is that he is out of touch with reality and failing to lead. And in the absence of that leadership, our nation’s best journalists need to enable our nation’s smartest people to set the agenda.
A compelling and coherent narrative is finally emerging to explain the Trump administration’s flailing response to the coronavirus crisis. It’s consistent with what we know about Trump's pathological need for admiration, and with what we know about the culture of sycophancy and fear he has created among the people who answer to him.
One of the many ways the public is ill-served by the White House chokehold on information about the coronavirus crisis is that it gives way too big a role to the White House press corps, which sees everything through a political lens – and a warped political lens, at that. But this story is too damned important to be covered as a two-sided battle over who’s winning the narrative.
In an alternate universe where campaign coverage focused on ideas and where White House coverage focused on what the president is doing -- rather than a cleaned-up version of what he is saying -- we would all be talking and writing a lot about how the government should be responding to this crisis.
A government-wide gag order during a public-health emergency is classic authoritarian behavior. The press needs to fight back with outrage and aggressive reporting, and by encouraging a massive wave of whistleblowing.
Just look at some of the things he said. Wednesday’s briefing was arguably the most abnormal moment yet in a profoundly abnormal presidency.
But top news organizations, rather than accurately representing Trump’s alarming behavior, made it sound like nothing untoward happened at all.
A sneaky video from a group that tries to delegitimize the reality-based media has uncovered a truth-teller about how badly TV networks skew the news -- not toward making things up, but toward turning it all into shallow, value-neutral entertainment. His bosses didn't like that.