Last updated on April 9, 2020
Live Blog below.
(Why yes, doing this is getting tiring, and I may give it up soon if only because the lies and campaign talking points are increasing. My interest in them is mainly for sound bites that often get edited out in transcripts)
IMPOTUS* is expected to attend, expect more kayfabe
Remember that yesterday’s briefing was hastily scheduled by Trump to crowd a concurrent Biden town hall broadcast.
So let’s talk about who said what about coronavirus, and when they said it.
I’ve compiled a timeline that compares public statements by Biden and Trump throughout the early days of this crisis, when extraordinary levels of failure by Trump and his administration squandered crucial lost time whose consequences are only beginning to be felt.
What’s notable is that this contrast — Trump defying science and experts on one side, and Biden calling for a response shaped around science and expertise on the other — has been omnipresent throughout:
- Trump, Jan. 22: The president tells CNBC that “we have it totally under control” and “it’s going to be just fine.”
- Top Biden adviser, Jan. 22: Ron Klain, a Biden adviser who managed the 2014 Ebola response, co-writes a piece excoriating Trump for “brashly” dismissing coronavirus as “under control,” while calling for “expertise” to “guide critical decisions” and noting “reasons for great concern.”
- Trump, Jan. 24: Trump praises and gives thanks to China for its efforts to contain the coronavirus, and adds: “It will all work out well.”
- Biden, Jan. 27: Biden publishes an op-ed in USA Today hitting Trump for “shortsighted policies” that “have left us unprepared for a dangerous epidemic,” and warning that the coronavirus “will get worse before it gets better.”
- Trump, Jan. 30: Trump says at a rally in Michigan: “We think we have it very well under control.”
- Biden, Jan. 31: Biden tells reporters in Iowa that “science” must “lead the way,” adding: “We have, right now, a crisis with the coronavirus.”
- Biden, Feb. 1: Biden tweets: “We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science.”
- Trump, Feb. 2: Trump goes on Sean Hannity’s show and claims: “We pretty much shut it down, coming in from China.” Trump extols our “tremendous relationship” with China, and adds: “We did shut it down, yes.”
- Trump, Feb. 10: Trump claims that “a lot of people” think the coronavirus “goes away in April with the heat,” adding that we only have “11 cases,” and that “we’re in great shape.”
- Biden, Feb. 11: Biden goes on “Morning Joe” and excoriates Trump for claiming the coronavirus will disappear in the warm weather, crossing himself while doing so, and adding: “You couldn’t make it up.”
- Trump, Feb. 27: Trump hails his administration’s handling of the coronavirus, and while he does reveal a hint of uncertainty, he says: “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”
- Biden, Feb. 28: Biden goes on CNN and says Trump has yet to “gain control” of the coronavirus, while calling on Trump to stop downplaying it and urging him instead to “let the experts take this over” and “let the experts speak.”
The endless Trump coverage today, often featuring two-hour briefings each day, is all being done voluntarily. TV networks in the United States are under no obligation to carry the president live when he makes appearances or addresses the press. Specifically for primetime, the White House typically lets the networks know the president wants to address the nation and then the networks inform the White House whether they'll be willing to carry the address, which they almost always do. It's true, the pandemic briefings usually don't air in primetime so the protocol is different. But the networks, and the cable news channels, could absolutely not broadcast the briefings live, and that in no way would that be unusual.
Considering the briefings are absurdly long, short on news, heavy on attitude, and drowning in misinformation, it's actually the right call to stop airing them and simply provide news consumers recaps, and fact checks, after the fact. “I would stop putting those briefings on live TV — not out of spite, but because it’s misinformation,” the MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said weeks ago.
Indeed, “The president’s daily Coronavirus Task Force presentations have morphed into a beast that bears no resemblance to the informative crisis briefings they were originally intended to be,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted in an editorial, where the paper urged the briefings not be aired live.
“It took 70 days for Trump to treat the coronavirus not as a distant threat or harmless flu strain well under control, but as a lethal force poised to kill tens of thousands of citizens.”
Amathia is the personal perception that having certain knowledge is the same as having universal knowledge, that one knows everything and is capable of anything with only particular knowledge of a particular subject.
Will a reporter ask Trump about this:
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