Monday, March 30, 2020


President's Trump's behavior at his news conference yesterday was, as always, pathological. You can read about Trump's pathology in if you search past the top headlines and go to secondary news sources. Here's a story from The Hill:
"PBS NewsHour" reporter Yamiche Alcindor questioned Trump during the briefing over recent comments he made during an interview with Fox News's Sean Hannity about whether some requests from governors related to the outbreak were overblown or unnecessary.

Trump responded by first denying that he had made the comments, which were reported by multiple news outlets at the time, before accusing Alcindor of acting "threatening" during the briefing.

"Why don't you act in a little more positive? ... It's always get ya, get ya, get ya," Trump said to Alcindor. "You know what? That's why nobody trusts the media anymore."

"That's why you used to work for the [New York] Times and now you work for somebody else," he continued, speaking to Alcindor. "Look, let me tell you something. Be nice. Don't be threatening."
And there's this, from New York magazine's Jonathan Chait:
Trump suggested on Sunday that hospitals have been hoarding ventilators and that something more nefarious may be afoot when it comes to their mask supplies.

Trump noted suspiciously that hospitals are now asking for many more masks than they used to, before the coronavirus appeared. “How do you go from [10,000] to 20,000 masks [prior to the pandemic] — to 300,000…” he said, “Something’s going on. And you ought to look into it as reporters. Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door? … And we have that happening in numerous places.”

“I don’t think it’s hoarding,” he later added, “I think maybe it’s worse than hoarding.”

Trump provided no evidence to support this accusation. It is true that some people have been stealing masks and other medical supplies from hospitals, but Trump’s insinuation that theft is to blame for hospital mask shortages during this pandemic, at a time when hundreds of hospitals across the country — and countries across the world — are all begging for more masks, is insane.
To engaged partisans, these were major stories. But for many Americans, they're not the news. What Trump is doing every day -- it's hard to say whether he's being shrewd or has just stumbled on a routine that seeks to work for him -- is weaving his pathology into a briefing that generally has at least some real news. That news is what a lot of Americans take away from the briefings, because news organizations generally treat it as far most important than Trump's outbursts. Some news outlets seem to regard the news as the only important part of the story. Thus, we get this front page at right now:

And at

It ought to matter that, in the midst of a crisis, we have a president who's accusing desperate healthcare workers in a viral hot zone of being grifters trying to steal and sell face masks, all because he can't accept numbers predicting exponential growth of demand for health services that are extremely dangerous to provide. It ought to matter that Trump bullies and insults reporters for quoting his own words back to him. It's an election year. When it suits us, we decide that "character" is an important criterion when we're judging who's fit to serve. But the media isn't treating Trump's character as an important story

Trump parcels out just enough news every day that the takeaway, for people who can't read the news in depth, is A serious man is leading us through a serious crisis.

And where there is coverage of Trump's pathology, it's often inadequate in its portrayal. For instance, this is a good video from The Washington Post (although I'm not sure why Trump's suicide remarks were included). It shows Trump at his worst.

But what's with the headline? "Trump’s Combative Back and Forth with Reporters During His Coronavirus Briefing" -- combative? That's not combative -- it's abusive, petty, and slanderous. It's the conduct of a man who's all ego and no empathy. In these clips, we see someone who believes everyone is on the same degraded moral plane on which he's lived his entire life.

That's an important story. But it's never the lead story.

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