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LIVE BLOG: WH daily COVID Taskforce briefing Trump: “I’m just here to present talent”

6 min read

Live Blog below — Today was about IMPOTUS’s folk beliefs


5:00* PM EDT *(rarely starts on time)

Members of the Coronavirus Task Force Hold a Press Briefing

The White House


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— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) April 23, 2020

Philip Bump addresses Trump’s confabulating demand for ventilators with PPEs.

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— Philip Bump (@pbump) April 23, 2020

During the White House briefing on the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday, President Trump expressed frustration with the media.
“We’re making hundreds of thousands of ventilators right now,” Trump said, referring to the devices used to aid patients suffering from covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. “Nobody writes about that. You know, at the one time, all they talked about was ventilators, right? Because you didn’t think it was possible for me to solve that problem. And I solved it, and nobody can believe it.”
“Nobody thought this could be done,” he added later. “The fake news was very unhappy that it was done. But you guys don't ask me about ventilators anymore.”
“Who's unhappy that ventilators are being made, Mr. President?” a reporter asked.
“Everybody. Everybody,” Trump replied. “Because you never mention it. You never mention it. There’s no story that what a great job we’ve done with ventilators. We’re now supplying ventilators all over the world.”

[…]

The thing about this argument, though, is that the country avoided the worst-case scenario with ventilator demand despite Trump’s actions, not because of it. His administration was, in fact, slow to engage on the issue, and it is due to a number of factors unrelated to the White House that more Americans didn’t die of a lack of ventilator availability.

[…]

It wasn't until late March that Trump used his authority to force General Motors to build ventilators. Ford had already announced that it was partnering with General Electric to build the machines, of their own volition. Those devices, though, wouldn't be available until early June.
“Ford’s timeline suggested,” the New York Times reported, “that if the administration had reacted to the acute shortage of ventilators in February, the joint effort between Ford and General Electric might have produced lifesaving equipment sometime in mid- to late April.”

www.washingtonpost.com/…

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— Rhonda Harbison (@rhonda_harbison) April 23, 2020

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— andrew kaczynski🤔 (@KFILE) April 23, 2020

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— Schooley (@Rschooley) April 23, 2020

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— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) April 23, 2020

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— John Bresnahan (@BresPolitico) April 23, 2020

covid19.census.gov

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— APStylebook (@APStylebook) April 23, 2020

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  • A simple example is this headline from the Washington Post fact checker: President Trump made 18,000 false or misleading claims in 1,170 days. washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/… Obviously he has already been “exposed” as a chronic liar. Further fact checks cannot function as an alert. 9/ 
  • For the press, then, the problem is not how to bring to light the truth that the President is a wholly unreliable source of information, but how to operate around him in light of the fact that we know he is likely to pollute the stream further when asked legitimate questions. 10/ 
  • The media scholar @wphillips49 has made a similar point in her work on how to cover online extremists. She takes note of the common phrase “sunlight disinfects.” (Louis Brandeis, 1914, writing about the power of publicity: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.”) 11/ 
  • Sometimes it disinfects, says Whitney Phillips, but sunlight also makes things grow.
  • Her point: you can't necessarily “expose” an online extremist or troll campaign without completing their work for them, since media attention is how they thrive. 12/ 
  • This is why Phillips and other scholars have tried to introduce a term to newsroom decision-making: amplification. The facts are out there, but be careful about which ones you amplify because you may be assisting bad actors or spreading disinformation.13/ 
  • Same problem arises in the testy debate over how to cover Trump's (very trollish) virus briefings. When he says passengers on trains and flights in the US are being tested when they depart and when they arrive, BUT ITS A LIE, should that be amplified?14/ 
  • This happened, but should it be amplified? is one of the doubts that floats to the surface when we realize that “bringing one episode and then another out of darkness into vision” isn't helping with our biggest problems, even though we need journalists to keep digging. 15/ 
  • In Susan Glasser's April 9 report in the New Yorker there is a moment I have been unable to forget. She spoke to executives in Silicon Valley who tried to help with parts of the Trump government's response to the pandemic, until they came to realize there is no plan. — 16/ @sbg1 
  • One of her sources, Eric Ries, had initially believed that it was only a matter of time until the federal government got its act together and came to the rescue of struggling firms and communities. “They did not realize this was a government failure by design,” Glasser says. 17/ 
  • “…Not a problem to be fixed but a policy choice by President Trump that either would not or could not be undone. 'No one can believe it. That’s the No. 1 problem with the whole situation: the facts are known, but they are inconceivable,' Ries told me.” 18/ 
  • The facts are known, but they are inconceivable.
  • Here's some white space so you can think on that… 19/ 
  • Democracy can die in broad daylight too. I doubt that Donald Trump can be further exposed, even though we need journalists to keep digging. A pandemic compounded by deliberate misrule doesn't need to come to light. It has been revealed. Now we have to work on believing it. 20/END 

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— Michelle Biloon (@biloon) April 21, 2020

48,845 US deaths at beginning of presser

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