There are a lot of words you could use to describe the daily White House briefings on the COVID-19 (Chinese) coronavirus and the havoc it’s wrought, but I wouldn’t call them “exhilarating” or “entertaining”…until yesterday. Finally fed up with a rabidly biased news media that seems more interested in attacking and blaming President Trump and accusing him of not taking the pandemic seriously than in relaying accurate, necessary information to the public, Trump introduced a video. It included a timeline, showing the steps Trump has taken to combat the virus going all the way back to January, when he banned travel from China and the people who now accuse him of waiting too long called him “racist” and “xenophobic.” (Fun Fact: Trump mentioned the coronavirus in his State of the Union Address, the one that Nancy Pelosi – who now claims he was “fiddling while Rome burns” – infamously ripped up behind him.)
The video went on to show the media, political opponents and so-called “health experts” on cable TV news channels dismissing the dangers, and Democratic Governors praising the White House response.
Here’s the full briefing, and the video starts around the 15-minute mark:
Predictably, the media reacted like a pack of dogs who were forced to watch a screening of “Cats.” Not since Dr. Smith on “Lost in Space” have feigned outrage, wounded dignity and cries of “Oh, the pain! The pain!” been so hilarious. They could not believe that Trump had the temerity to show the public what they’d actually said two or three months ago. The reporters in the room accused him of showing a “campaign video,” while both CNN and MSNBC cut away from the briefing to keep their viewers from seeing anything that might actually open their eyes to the truth.
Incredibly, what I assume must be a petulant 14-year-old at CNN actually imposed titles on the press conference feed, reading, "Angry Trump turns briefing into propaganda session," "Trump uses task force briefing to try and rewrite history on coronavirus response," and "Trump melts down in angry response to reports he ignored virus warnings."
Funny, he seemed pretty calm to me. And I thought that “propaganda” referred to fake news, not showing the public video of direct quotes with accurate dates attached. My term for that would be “journalism.” Of course, it’s understandable that CNN wouldn’t recognize “journalism,” since it’s been so long since they’ve practiced it. MSNBC also explained their cutaway by saying there is no reason for them to broadcast propaganda. I agree, and yet they keep doing it 24/7.
Another laughable response came on Twitter from someone who said reporters would never have just sat there respectfully and let Obama praise himself at length. News flash: that’s pretty much all they did for eight years.
But the funniest response had to come from former Obama Administration mouthpieces like Joe Lockhart (now on CNN) and Ben Rhodes (now on MSNBC), who huffed that they NEVER would have stood at the podium and dispensed such one-sided, campaign style propaganda (“If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor!”) Reminder: Ben Rhodes once bragged about how he sold Obama’s Iran nuclear deal by setting up an “echo chamber” to feed talking points to the young political reporters “who literally know nothing” so they would regurgitate them back to their readers and viewers.
You know the difference between what Obama told us about the Iran nuclear deal and the video that Trump showed on Monday? Everything in Trump’s video was true.
A post-script: New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman is heard in her own voice in the video, admitting that Trump was called a racist and a xenophobe for his early cut-off of travel from China to the US, but it did slow the spread of the disease. She tweeted that “their use of the audio is misleading - I went on to say I said he treated that travel limitation as a Mission Accomplished moment.”
Yes, I read the transcript, and she did go on to criticize Trump (what a surprise.) But that’s irrelevant. Her personal interpretation of his attitude in no way altered what she said about his actions in January or the reactions to them. And nobody is under any obligation to quote her entire interview to provide “context.” Real journalists use excerpts and editing all the time, but the excerpt must convey the actual meaning. An example of “misleading” editing would be cutting up and splicing a Trump comment to make it appear that there were fine people among a group of white supremacists when he was actually talking about people who want to preserve Confederate monuments.
Again, this is Journalism 101 stuff, so I’m not surprised that a New York Times reporter isn’t familiar with it.