Trump May Have Fewer Coronavirus Briefings

It's about damned time.

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, listens as William N. Bryan, science and technology advisor to the DHS Secretary, delivers remarks and answers questions from members of the press during a coronavirus task force briefing Thursday, April 23, 2020, in the James S. Brady White House Press Briefing Room. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, listens as William N. Bryan, science and technology advisor to the DHS Secretary, delivers remarks and answers questions from members of the press during a coronavirus task force briefing Thursday, April 23, 2020, in the James S. Brady White House Press Briefing Room. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

Having continually been countermanded by his own experts and embarrassed himself by becoming an international laughing stock, President Trump is coming around to the idea that he’s talking too much about COVID-19.

AP (“White House could alter virus briefings to limit Trump role”):

For the first time, President Donald Trump cut off his daily coronavirus task force briefing on Friday without taking any questions from reporters. It may not be the last time.

There have been discussions within the White House about changing the format of the briefings to curtail the president’s role, according to four White House officials and Republicans close to the White House who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The briefings often stretch well beyond an hour and feature combative exchanges between Trump and reporters.

Trump was angry after a day of punishing headlines Friday, largely about his comment at the previous evening’s briefing wondering if it would be helpful to inject disinfectant into people to fight the coronavirus. That idea drew loud warnings from health experts who said the idea was dangerous and sharp criticism from Democrats.

Trump did answer questions from reporters earlier Friday and claimed that his suggestion about disinfectant had been “sarcastic.” That doesn’t square with a transcript of his remarks.

For weeks, advisers have been urging the president to scale back his appearances at the briefings, saying that he should come before the cameras only when there is major news or a positive development to discuss, according to the officials. Otherwise, they suggested, he should leave it to Vice President Mike Pence and health officials to take the lead.

Trump has been reluctant to cede the spotlight at the briefings, which are the closest thing he currently has to his beloved political rallies. He has talked up their robust television ratings and his ability to dominate the news cycle and drown out his likely general election opponent, Democrat Joe Biden.

But advisers have argued that while the briefings may appeal to his most loyal base of supporters, they could be alienating some viewers, including senior citizens worried about their health. Officials at Trump’s reelection campaign have also noted a slip in Trump’s support in some battleground states and have expressed concerns that the briefings, which often contain inaccurate information, may be playing a role.

An Axios report (“Trump plans to cut daily coronavirus briefings“) adds,

Another source close to the deliberations said there simply isn’t enough new material to justify Trump appearing before the press every day. “I mean, you wonder how we got to the point where you’re talking about injecting disinfectant?” the source wondered aloud.

Indeed.

FILED UNDER: COVID-19, Donald Trump
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. mattbernius says:

    For the good of the country and my liver, I hope this is the case.

    What remains to be seen is if Trump can be disciplined enough to follow through with this, especially if he perceives others starting to look too good or grabbing the spotlight.

    13
  2. steve says:

    Get rid of him entirely. Pence can stay and we can put up with him saying that Trump is awesome every other sentence, but keep it brief. Let the people who know what they are talking about do most of the talking.

    Steve

    12
  3. Lounsbury says:

    Pity, more obviously deranged and incompetent displays might have led to even the Republican base coming to a 25th amendent PoV.

    (oh let me claim this is ‘sarcasm’ after everyone laughs at me)

    11
  4. CSK says:

    @mattbernius:
    And give up daily rallies with ratings better than The Bachelor? Please.

    9
  5. Tony W says:

    I don’t think he’s persuaded how bad he is at this, so much as persuaded that it’s not politically beneficial to highlight the pandemic daily on national television.

    As always, these decisions are all about Trump and what benefits Trump. There is zero consideration of what information or reassurance the public needs.

    14
  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Apparently, parading one’s absolute idiocy on live TV for all to see every night is detrimental to one’s poll numbers.

    Whocoodanode?

    And I love that fact that he thought “their robust television ratings and his ability to dominate the news cycle” was anything other than a reflection of people’s love of NASCAR races, they’re only watching because they want to see the wrecks. And with trump, there is a wreck every night.

    10
  7. de stijl says:

    Per some second hand reporting, Trump hate watches Gov. Cuomo’s morning briefings and goes bonkers apopaleptic.

    If true, that amuses me greatly.

    He does not get the obvious lesson. Either be good at getting the details correct and make rational inferences from that, or defer to the experts who can. Seriously, defer to the experts.

    Competence is not omnipotence. A fool claims to know everything. A massive fool thinks he controls everything

    Cuomo makes Trump look like an idiot.

    16
  8. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    The irony is that probably a hell of a lot more people are tuning into these briefings to watch Trump make an ass of himself than are watching to admire how tough he is.

    Indeed, I think that some of Trump’s more astute fanciers (yeah, I know; that sounds like an oxymoron) avoid watching the briefings precisely because they know what a jackass he’ll look like and they’ve run out of excuses for him. Or they don’t like suffering from vicarious embarrassment.

    6
  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl: My gerbil makes trump look like an idiot

    6
  10. grumpy realist says:

    Remember when I suggested that we carefully lead Trump into a room lined with mirrors and provide him with a copy of Napoleon’s coronation regalia? That we could pipe in roaring applause and then just quietly tiptoe away and lock the door?

    That’s Trump. And you can throw his obsequious toadies in there as well.

    7
  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I know I avoid watching the briefings precisely because I know what a jackass he’ll look like and it is physically painful for me. I just don’t like suffering. Well that and my wife knows I am averse to suffering in silence.

    1
  12. Pete S says:

    I would think if Republicans can convince Trump to shut up for a while they will turn their attention to other political geniuses in their party talking happily about death for their citizens.

    2
  13. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Yeah, me too. Few things are as excruciating as vicarious embarrassment. If I were remotely sympathetic to Trump, I’d take him aside and say, “Look, dude, you’re doing yourself far more harm than good by spouting this fount of idiocies. Just shut up and look serious and concerned.”

    But he’s incapable of that.

    4
  14. de stijl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    With you there.

    I cannot watch Trump live. Will not. It hurts too much and life is too short.

    I have to see him second hand surrounded on both sides by commentary and analysis, and even then it is hella painful.

    6
  15. Kathy says:

    This sin’t closing the barn door after the horse escaped. Not by any means.

    This is closing the barn door after the horse escaped, ran through three states, was kidnapped and taken to the glue factory.

    1
  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl: I look forward to the day when he is no longer the punchline to every late night TV joke. I really miss watching clips of Colbert, Trevor Noah and Sarah Silverman’s ex.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: And then reopening the barn door so the weasels can get in and kill all the chickens.

    ETA because we all know he can’t keep his mouth shut.

    1
  18. KM says:

    @de stijl:

    Per some second hand reporting, Trump hate watches Gov. Cuomo’s morning briefings and goes bonkers apopaleptic.

    Cuomo can be a SOB at the best of times but that’s what we need right now. Seriously, he’s got the “tough guy” imagery that Trump’s always modeled. He’s clearly In Charge whenever he’s in the room but he defers as necessary to others when he doesn’t have the info. There’s people around him that are not props to make him look Very Important but actually have information they get to deliver unconcerned. He’s pushy and mouthy but it’s pointed and factual, not childish name-calling. NYC gruff and no-nonsense, he’ll make an unpopular decision and tell people to come at him but it’s happening.

    Cuomo is the “Alpha” Trump’s always wanted to be. The guy you may personally hate but have respect for professionally, the guy who gets sh^t done and blows off any criticism with “I know you can’t have done any better so STFU”. That kind of confidence and leadership ability Trump will NEVER have and it burns him up inside. Every day, Trump gets to see his Daddy get praised for not being a drooling idiot while doing his job and seethes.

    Money can’t buy class, daily briefings don’t create competency. You either have it or you don’t, Donald and you really, really don’t.

    8
  19. de stijl says:

    @KM:

    Not a New Yorker so I don’t get a vote, but last election, had I been one, I would have not voted for Cuomo.

    Guy I wish had not been elected is magnitudes better at press briefings than Trump.

    Plus, he knows how to use Power Point slides.

    Not as full documentation, but as a means to communicate the details.

    3
  20. gVOR08 says:

    @de stijl: I can’t take Trump either. One can’t help but catch a few minutes of him. Everybody complains about his ex temp ravings and rants, but at least they’re entertaining in a train wreck sort of way. What for me is like fingernails on a blackboard is his struggling, intonation free, reading of what they have cued up for him on the teleprompter.

    Dr. K tweeted that contra the usual MSM trope, maybe the bleach thing is the moment when he became not presidential. If not to his base, I maybe see little cracks in the MSM bothsides and normalization of him.

    2
  21. Mister Bluster says:

    @gVOR08:..Everybody complains about his ex temp ravings and rants, but at least they’re entertaining in a train wreck sort of way.

    On Thursday, April 23, 2020 at 13:14 @95 South said in the Second Wave Worst Than the First? thread:
    “I’m trying to find the truth, and to help people who have gotten off-track in their thinking.”

    I have already reached out to 95 South to contact the White House and offer the healing therapy that 95 South touts.
    Maybe the Trump’s truncated briefing Friday was a result of 95 South’s Patent Treatment.

    1
  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    Trump is currently being beaten in the polls by a man in a basement in Delaware. I vote with @Lounsbury: more briefings, please.

    Rick Wilson:

    “So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous—whether it’s ultraviolet or just a very powerful light,” Trump said. “And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or some other way and I think you said you’re going to test that too.”

    Case closed!

    But Mr. President, have you considered the role of the bilious humours in COVID-19? Perhaps the falling damps? What about comets? Would you recommend leeches or bloodletting after the mythical light therapy, or should we have a cunning woman from the village mix up some sort of poultice? Is mandrake root contraindicated in the treatment of coronavirus?

    5
  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mister Bluster: When did he start ignoring everything anyone in this admin said?

  24. de stijl says:

    If Trump decides to take his toys and go home with the daily press briefings, Drs. Birx and Fauci can unclensh a bit.

    They no longer have to navigate between telling the truth and getting sideways with their boss on live TV.

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: It’s not just Cuomo; anyone can make Trump look like an idiot. Even Guarneri and 95 South would be able to if they applied themselves to it.

  26. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    With some polish and some moxie, yes, that could def happen.

    Of course, they would have have to had have espoused contrasting views. (ESL students hate us.) What tense is that? Conditional past. Conditional on conditional past.

    Those dudes are homers, unlikely to disagree. Any disagreement would read as false and forced.

  27. Mister Bluster says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:..When did he start ignoring everything anyone in this admin said?
    No tellin’.

    On September 24, 2019 at 22:34 in the Senate Intel Committee Gets Involved thread
    95 South said:
    “Republicans will do what is morally right without regard to party.”

  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: Just a straight past that expresses conditions in which it applies, but you’re absolutely correct about the potential for it to happen. That’s why I thought it possible if (conditional) they applied themselves (condition).

    Still, it wouldn’t be a high bar for most non-MAGAots to jump.

    Functional grammar sometimes can be ummmm… challenging. The sentences will confess to whatever interpretation you want once they’re chained to the chair. A lot like Reader Response Theory in literary criticism in that way. 😉

    1
  29. Paine says:

    He could avoid a lot of these self-inflicted wounds if he simply said, “I’ll defer to the experts.” But he fancies himself the expert on everything so is constantly putting his foot in his mouth.

    3
  30. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I wrote that because that was what my brain said, and then I looked at it before hitting Submit.

    More haves than should exist in one sentence.

    It makes sense and also makes my brain hurt.