Saturday, March 21, 2020


Commentators such as Margaret Sullivan of The Washington Post and James Fallows of The Atlantic believe that TV networks should stop broadcasting President Trump's daily coronavirus press briefings. I agree with the criticisms: that the briefings are full of falsehoods and exaggerations, and that Trump is using them as campaign rallies in which he boasts about his own greatness and attacks his usual villains.

I'd add that the media could simply stop sending reporters to these briefings as well. Let Trump walk out to a near-empty press room. Why not? If reporters are just being used as foils, what's the news value?

But after four and a half years of Trump the candidate and Trump the president, James Fallows still doesn't understand him. If he did, he would never have written this:
Also, as a practical matter, if the briefings were no longer covered live, Trump would lose interest in attending himself. Then the scientists could come back on stage—and eventually they could be covered live again.
Can you seriously imagine Trump allowing scientists to do live briefings if he can't get the networks to broadcast his briefings? This is Donald Trump we're talking about. He's never going to allow someone else to be a star in his administration instead of himself. If TV news outlets reject him, he'll shut down the briefings altogether -- he won't allow Anthony Fauci or Deborah Birx to be bigger stars than himself. I'm not sure he'll even allow them to make other public appearances or speak to any reporters if he's not given the opportunity to be the #1 coronavirus TV star.

The briefings we have now are bad, but Fallows is naive if he believes we could be having good briefings instead. Not with Trump as president.

No comments: