Even without the daily COVID Taskforce presser, we get notable pieces of disinformation, such as VP Pence not wearing a mask at the Mayo Clinic, and Trump trying to bypass the WH press corps with a surprise press conference at 3 pm. Trump did repeat his usual misinforming claims about numbers as case numbers reached one million and the death toll exceeds that of US deaths in the Vietnam War.
April 20, 2020
“Without national unity and global solidarity, trust us, the worst is yet ahead of us,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “Let's prevent this tragedy. It's a virus that many people still don't understand.”
Tedros didn't go into details about what could lie ahead, but he did point to politics as a reason for potentially worsening conditions.
“It's the political problem that may fuel further this pandemic,” Tedros said.
Pushing politics amid the pandemic “is like playing with fire,” he added.
Every day — sometimes every hour — there’s some new craziness to distract us.
Here is Trump suggesting that ingesting disinfectants may cure the coronavirus. Here he is trashing reporters on Twitter who won Pulitzer Prizes by talking about revoking their Nobel Prizes — but misspelling it as “Noble.” Here he is claiming he will somehow punish reporters by not having his near-daily briefings — and then changing his mind, as a press aide quips that reporters should be kept on their toes.
But in the big picture and as a whole, we’ve never quite figured out how to cover Trump for the good of citizens. We’ve never really fully changed gears despite Trump’s constant, norm-busting behavior. Determined to do our jobs — dutifully covering the most powerful person in the world — we keep coming back for more:
Beat reporters file into the briefing room, sometimes to be publicly insulted and disparaged as “fake news” or “a terrible reporter.”
Someday, we’ll get some perspective on how the press has contributed to this mess — just as we can now look back on the news coverage of the run-up to the Iraq War and clearly see the sins committed then by most of Big Journalism: the shameful lack of skepticism, the foolish granting of anonymity to deceptive and self-interested sources.
When we have that distance, what I suspect we’ll see is a candidate and a president who played the media like a puppet while deeply damaging the public’s trust in the press as a democratic institution. Someone who dazzled us with his show, while acting constantly in his own self-interest as we willingly — almost helplessly — magnified his message.
We’ll figure out what happened and why. And we’ll know what to call it. But it won’t be “winning.”