New York City and its suburbs reported about 5 percent of global coronavirus cases March 23, making the region an epicenter of the pandemic. More than 20,000 people in the state tested positive for the virus.
TRUMP SUBSTITUTES ‘NEWS’ BRIEFINGS FOR VIRTUAL RALLIES; HE USES MEDIA AS PROPS
By Steven A Cohen
Why do CNN, MSNBC and other broadcast media permit President Trump to use their airwaves for virtual rallies? That’s what Trump has turned his daily “news” briefings on the Coronavirus pandemic into. The briefings have no relevance to what actually is happening; Trump uses them as a substitute for the rallies that the deadly virus curtailed, and the media give them an air of legitimacy.
Trump is ever a victim at these televised rallies, which run for hours and reach an audience that is far larger than those he was forced to suspend. For example, he said March 22 that no one thanked him for forgoing the $450,000 salary that the president is entitled to. Left unmentioned was the millions of dollars taxpayers have spent flying him and his entourage to Trump Organization golf resorts in Florida and New Jersey most weekends during his presidency. Trump also repeated— without ever offering any evidence — his oft-stated claim that he is losing “billions of dollars” in profit by being “your president.” He makes no mention of the outrageous sums his properties are charging taxpayers to accommodate his security details, or the profits attributed to his presidency, raked in by the hotel he owns down the street from the White House.
Trump and the sycophants he surrounds himself with present a glowing picture of alleged accomplishments in the “ war” against the Coronavirus, which is in stark contrast with everything that governors, mayors and health-care workers have to say. While he forecasts a rosy future, they warn of thousands of death due to inadequate preparation and a swamped health-care system. And Trump attacks reporters who ask challenging questions, calling them lousy journalists rather than answering their questions.
In the modern era, the president of the United States is the most powerful person on the planet. Before Trump, even presidents who were less than truthful were judicious in their use the news media, recognizing that there are risks. They can’t edit news conferences that are broadcast live. Politicians also tend to filibuster when asked hard questions, often delivering a speech that is irrelevant. That is why reporters need to interrupt aggressively— despite appearing to be rude. Trump simply changes his message, and he doesn’t like to be to be reminded of a conflicting statement he made previously or made by someone on his own team. His subordinates who speak at these televised news rallies are clearly uncomfortable. They begin with gratuitous praise of the president, and they obviously are choosing their words carefully in what often is a tortured effort to make the facts dovetail with the bright outlook projected by Trump.
It’s time for the broadcast media to acknowledge that this president is unique, and giving him unfiltered access to their airwaves is uniquely dangerous. They need to start exercising news judgment, which is an idiomatic term in their line of work, because it isn’t sufficient to fact check whatever Trump says after he says it. The damage already is done.
The Coronavirus pandemic presents us with issues that are matters of life and death, and Trump has proved himself too damaged to be relied on. He equates the fight against COVID-19 with war and describes himself as a wartime president. I doubt most Americans are happy about following him into battle.