Monday marks the third day that the White House has not held a regular coronavirus task force briefing — but two reports undertaking systematic studies of the almost daily presidential pressers suggests that the skipped briefings, too, would have been dominated by President Trump attacking Democrats and the media, while praising himself and his administration.
A Washington Post analysis of the 35 briefings held since March 16 finds that the president spoke more than 28 hours across those press conferences. The paper drew on annotated transcripts from the data analytics company Factba.se, focusing on the last three weeks of briefings in particular, which have seen the U.S. death toll climb past 50,000.
And between April 6 and April 24, Trump spoke for 13 hours — more than twice as long as Dr. Deborah Birx, who oversees the administration’s virus response and spoke for almost six hours, or Vice President Mike Pence, the coronavirus task force leader, who spoke for about 5½ hours. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, spoke for just over two hours.
In other words, the president took up 60% of the briefings. The Washington Post report added that Trump answered questions addressed to someone else on the stage more than a third of the time, including queries that had already been answered by the intended official.
So what was the content of Trump’s remarks during those 13 hours? Two hours were spent on attacks — mostly against Democrats (drawing roughly 30 minutes), the media (for around 25 minutes), the nation’s governors (more than 22 minutes) and China (almost 21 minutes), according to the report.
About 45 minutes were spent praising himself and his administration, including three instances in which he played videos that featured support for him and his administration.
Just 4½ minutes were spent expressing condolences for coronavirus victims.
The latest John Hopkins University data as of Monday morning finds that the U.S. has the highest COVID-19 case toll in the world at 965,933, and the highest death count at 54,877.
Trump mentioned America’s coronavirus testing capacity in 14% of his comments and the nation’s ventilator supply 12% of the time; he discussed his travel bans, particularly from China, in 9% of his remarks.
Similarly the New York Times released a report on Sunday that reviewed more than 260,000 words spoken by Trump during the pandemic since March 9. It also found that self-congratulations were common (counting roughly 600 examples), while the commander-in-chief displayed empathy or appealed to national unity 160 times, or only about a quarter of the times that he complimented himself or a member of his team.
The Times went on to tabulate at least 130 examples of falsehoods or exaggerations. The Washington Post also claimed that almost one in four of the president’s statements or responses to questions contained false or misleading information, adding up to 47 minutes. That included promoting the antimalaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a prospective COVID-19 game changer in at least eight of his comments, despite there being no hard medical evidence to support it. And the president was widely criticized late last week for suggesting that his coronavirus response team study injecting disinfectant and UV light into patients to fight the coronavirus.
Trump responded to this news analysis of his remarks via Twitter TWTR, +4.73% on Sunday night, writing that the Washington Post is “one of the worst in the ‘news’ business. Total slime balls!” Trump also shared White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s tweet complaining that the paper “buried my quote 22 paragraphs down in their story.” She also flagged a report from the conservative site Newsbusters.org that claims Washington Post headlines have been “bashing” the president’s coronavirus response by a 25-to-1 margin.
They are one of the worst in the “news” business. Total slime balls! https://twitter.com/presssec/status/1254460454971342854 …Kayleigh McEnany
The @washingtonpost, unsurprisingly, buried my quote 22 paragraphs down in their story.
This is to be expected from a paper that repeatedly publishes false headlines about @realDonaldTrump by a 25-to-1 margin. Thank you @newsbusters for exposing this https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/rich-noyes/2020/04/25/study-washington-post-bashes-trump-virus-response-25-1-negative …
McEnany’s statement read that “Millions and millions of Americans tune in each day to hear directly from President Trump and appreciate his leadership, unprecedented coronavirus response, and confident outlook for America’s future.”
Even so it appears the daily White House coronavirus briefings could be switching gears. Trump cut his last briefing to just 21 minutes on Friday and didn’t take questions from reporters. No official coronavirus task-force pressers have been held since, although the president was set to address the media about coronavirus testing and “other announcements about safely opening up America again” later Monday.
The president questioned “the purpose” of these briefings in a tweet on Saturday, accusing the media of asking “hostile questions” and not reporting the facts as he believed they should.
What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately. They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort!
The White House is reportedly looking to pivot the president’s public focus away from the coronavirus and toward economic recovery — as well as possibly continuing the daily pandemic news briefings without Trump, in a different location.
Greg Valliere, chief U.S. policy strategist at AGF Perspectives, said earlier this month that the “cringe inducing” press conferences were not helping the president: “His polls are sinking fast.”
Originally Published on MarketWatch
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