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5:00 PM EDT Now 530pm President Trump Holds a News Conference
Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump plans to brief the nation on the new guidance and “other announcements about safely opening up America again.” The announcement came roughly two and a half hours after the White House canceled a planned 5 p.m. press conference for the president’s coronavirus task force.
The White House issued updated guidance shortly thereafter noting a 5 p.m. news conference in the Rose Garden. It is unclear whether the president will field questions from reporters at the press conference or whether other individuals will participate in the press conference.
The event was added hours after McEnany told Fox News in an interview Monday morning that there would not be a briefing Monday and that Trump would instead hold a press availability during a meeting with executives on COVID-19. The White House then canceled the coronavirus briefing, which had been scheduled for 5 p.m. in the press briefing room.
“Trump has an ignominious super power: He is completely unencumbered by the truth, the need to tell it or accept it. He will do and say anything that he believes will help him. He has no greater guiding principles.”—Charles Blow
“As one of the few aides Trump implicitly trusts, the former White House communications director urged the president to act as a frontman for the #coronavirus crisis.”
Hope Hicks returned to the White House in February as a “counselor to the president.” It's not been a roaring success. Hicks slinked back from California shortly after Donald Trump skated on impeachment charges, which might turn out to have been the high point of Trump's last — we hope — year in office. She now reports to Jared Kushner, whose brain trust has only bungled everything it's touched regarding the COVID-19 response.
Politico reports that Hicks “urged the president to act as a frontman for the coronavirus crisis,” and unless the coronavirus crisis is a thrash metal band, that was an incredibly stupid idea. She believed the president, who let's not forget is Donald Trump, “could offer calming messages, critical health information and important updates on the progress of the White House's response efforts.” Is she trying to undermine him? Trump was better off just letting Dr. Anthony Fauci speak while nodding sagely in the distance or repeating whatever Dr. Deborah Birx said as if it was his own idea. Men have done this to women at business meetings for decades. Instead, the president's pitching Trump Brand COVID-19 Bleach Away.
It's an approach in perpetual flux, thanks largely to a mercurial president who acts on his own instincts, prefers the spotlight in the crisis and offers up rhetoric often designed more for his base than the masses in the midst of an unprecedented situation.
That's cute. The media is still soft-selling Trump's bananapants behavior: He's just “mercurial,” like an 18th Century romantic poet. Meanwhile, Trump appears to be just a few press briefings away from recommending we ingest mercury: The 'rona won't stand a chance!
By far the most recurring utterances from Mr. Trump in the briefings are self-congratulations, roughly 600 of them, which are often predicated on exaggerations and falsehoods. He does credit others (more than 360 times) for their work, but he also blames others (more than 110 times) for inadequacies in the state and federal response.
Mr. Trump’s attempts to display empathy or appeal to national unity (about 160 instances) amount to only a quarter of the number of times he complimented himself or a top member of his team.
- Blames others
- Speaks falsely or exaggerates
- Uses unifying language or attempts empathy
- But his laments about the virus’s economic toll — the damage it has caused “probably the best economy in the history of the world” — are far more common than remarks about the human toll. “It’s the things that are not there, the things he isn’t doing,” said Roderick P. Hart, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who is an expert in political speech. “It’s what’s not there — that sense of, ‘I’m part of the human condition,’ the ability to empathize with the downtrodden and the afflicted — that’s what’s so important.”
Philip Bump has the receipts:
Sarcasm from Coachella: