The Daily Beast is reporting that some in the Fake News media want to dump Trump’s coronavirus press briefings, accusing Trump of putting out too much disinformation or something:
The nation’s television news outlets, especially the three major cable-news networks, are grappling with a nagging paradox as President Donald Trump continues to orchestrate his White House briefings on the novel coronavirus pandemic.
On the one hand, their ratings have never been higher, and viewers’ appetites for the live sessions have shown no signs of dwindling. On the other hand, journalists and executives at MSNBC, CNN, and the often Trump-friendly Fox News—which scored an impressive 6.2 million viewers for Sunday’s installment of the Trump show, according to Nielsen—are increasingly facing the likelihood that they are becoming an uncritical and unvetted transmission belt for propaganda and misinformation.
Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough tweeted during Trump’s briefing on Monday that there was “no public benefit to this briefing,” and the cable news networks should “cut away.” MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, who anchors the network’s most highly rated program, also repeatedly called for news networks to stop carrying Trump’s statements live, saying that the president’s daily comments contribute to the spread of misinformation.
“If it were up to me, and it’s not, I would stop putting those briefings on live TV,” Maddow said on her show earlier this week. “Not out of spite, but because it’s misinformation. If the president does end up saying anything true, you can run it as tape. But if he keeps lying like he has been every day on stuff this important, we should, all of us should stop broadcasting it. Honestly, it’s going to cost lives.”
Scarborough and Maddow? Of course they want to nix his press briefings. They hate him with a passion. C’mon.
Note that in this next paragraph that the Daily Beast blames Trump for the couple who took aquarium cleaner because it contained chloroquine:
Privately, several staffers at CNN and MSNBC have acknowledged that airing Trump’s pressers live and in full likely amplifies the spread of misinformation about the disease and its potential cure. In one instance, Trump’s enthusiastic promotion of a malaria medicine, chloroquine, as therapy for COVID-19, reportedly prompted an elderly couple to take a poisonous version of the chemical, resulting in the wife being placed in an intensive-care unit while her husband died.
This isn’t an example of disinformation. How ridiculous. That couple ingesting aquarium cleaner is more “Darwin Award” than having anything to do with Trump. Pathetic.
Since at least Sunday’s briefing—when Trump joked sarcastically about Sen. Mitt Romney’s self-quarantine, complained about the “billions of dollars” he has allegedly lost because he’s president, and defended his continuing involvement in his family business by claiming George Washington did the same—staffers and managers at CNN and MSNBC have been treating the briefings with increasing caution.
Going forward, they said, they will be ready to cut away from the briefings when newsworthy facts and figures—usually shared by federal public-health officials such as Dr. Anthony Fauci—give way to unsupported presidential speculation and outright falsehoods.
“We might take it from the top and then cut away after the first lie, and return when the lies stop,” said one cable-network producer.
An MSNBC staffer is also blaming Trump for the aquarium cleaner couple, calling it misinformation. What nasty people…
“Sunday was like open-mic night,” an MSNBC staffer told The Daily Beast, adding that Trump might still be benefiting politically and winning respectable approval ratings for his handling of the pandemic because “people want to believe he’s got this. So they crawl toward the mirage, and when they realize it’s a mirage, they eat the sand.”
“They’re so full of misinformation. Someone has already died from it,” a different MSNBC insider said, citing the story of an Arizona man who ingested fish-tank solvent, chloroquine with phosphate, after hearing Trump tout that key ingredient in its prescription-drug form at one of his press conferences.
They note the networks are already starting to cut away from Trump’s briefings…
On Monday, both CNN and MSNBC cut away from Trump’s unusually lengthy briefing after an hour, while the Fox News Channel continued to carry it until the end.
“Of course they did,” scoffed a CNN employee. “And yesterday [Tuesday] they produced a propaganda show”—a reference to the Fox News town hall with Trump in which anchor Bill Hemmer, with the president in the White House Rose Garden, and Harris Faulkner in her makeshift home studio, asked him a series of softball questions.
These outlets claim they want only expert facts, but yesterday they cut away as soon as Trump left. Mike Pence and the coronavirus team were still there answering questions, but the media didn’t care. Joe Concha says this blows a hole in their “we-need-to-hear-from-the-experts-only argument”:
It should also be noted CNN and MSNBC cut away from the briefings once the president exited, which makes the whole we-need-to-hear-from-the-experts-only argument a hollow one … especially given these same networks showed empty “Trump expected to speak” podiums in 2016 unabated. https://t.co/zmqYNW16n1
— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) March 25, 2020
Meanwhile, former press secretary Ari Fleischer believes all of this ‘cutting away’ talk is really about Trump’s increasing approval ratings:
Trump’s job approval hits the highest level of his presidency. It’s no coincidence that many resistance reporters want to take his Coronavirus briefings off the air. pic.twitter.com/G6n8q4tMe5
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) March 26, 2020
He posted this image in his tweet to illustrate his point:
Both Fleischer and Concha make good points. It looks to me like the Fake News media is just looking for excuses to stop airing Trump’s briefings because the election is later this year and the last thing they need is for Trump to get even more popular.