The President’s Daily Coronavirus Briefings: What Do You Think the Press Should Do?

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Image courtesy of flickr.com

There is no doubt that in the midst of this fearsome pandemic, the calm factual voice of a trustworthy leader is sorely needed. But what we are getting from this President are not the Fireside Chats that President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave to calm the nation. This President’s litany of falsehoods, which began on Day One when his hapless then-Communications Director lied about the size of the crowds, has ruled him out as that persona.

I am very frightened by his daily press briefings, which many have pointed out are his way of remaining in the limelight while his campaign rallies are on hold. Instead of Fireside Chats, we are getting State TV: with a captive audience.  This President holds “press briefings” that remind me of an autocrat’s taking over the means of communication to lull a willing public, eager for hope, that all will be well. In essence, he’s saying (I’m making no attempt to mimic his speech patterns here): 

Pay no attention to all the evidence that I have repeatedly failed as your leader in curbing this pandemic, first by destroying the pandemic preparedness office set up by the Obama administration, then by ignoring those who warned me the pandemic was coming, then by calling it fake news, then by saying it’s no worse than the flu and totally under control, and then by not listening to my scientific advisers’ pleas for social distancing. We lost precious time? Don’t believe it; that’s fake news. Trust me: It’s all gonna be fine.

Forget that I continue to fail, ignoring urgent requests from governors, forcing them into character-building bidding wars against each other and the federal government (FEMA) in a Wild West sellers’ market for life-saving equipment, refusing to call for a nationwide shelter-in-place. So what if I belittle and insult the governors who have requested federal help? I can even criticize the physicians and nurses who are in the front lines if I want to, accusing them of hoarding or selling their supplies. They’re greedy. They had enough supplies before the pandemic; why can’t they make do now? Look, somebody’s gotta be responsible, and it sure won’t be me.

For all these reasons and more, although he refuses to accept a pinky’s worth of responsibility as the deaths mount and the economy continues in free fall, Trump will be remembered in the history books as bearing huge responsibility for more loss of life and economic turmoil than any of us could imagine. In other words, as the worst president this country has ever seen. (See The Washington Post article about the “Denial and Dysfunction” that delayed a response for 70 Days.)

But he insists on appearing before us nightly, not practicing social distancing from those who share the crowded podium with him. Look at me, he says. Listen to me. Buy my snake oil.

Former Vice President Joe Biden had a virtual Town Hall Sunday night to talk about the pandemic. Did you see it? I didn’t. It was streamed on his website, but I can’t find a video. Doesn’t the apparent Democratic nominee for the Presidency deserve a bit more attention from the press at this point? 

I can’t bear to watch much of Trump’s briefings, but I am eager to hear what Dr. Anthony Fauci, the highly respected Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has to say when he’s allowed to speak. Asked if the Administration had the outbreak under control, Fauci said:

 “I will not say we have it under control…That would be a false statement…we are struggling.” 

Sunday night (at the same time that Biden was appearing), Trump again spoke about the wonders of hydroxychloroquine, a drug designed to treat malaria and rheumatic diseases such as lupus, as though it was the answer to this pandemic and would save the lives of the dying. He had been advised against doing so by Fauci and his colleague, Dr. Deborah Birx, but he insisted there was no time to test it—it had to be out there. When a reporter asked Fauci if he agreed, Trump refused to let him answer.

According to a tweet from Andrew Freedman, a climate reporter for The Washington Post,

“This is a really chilling moment from a science standpoint, with Trump having just pushed an unproven COVID treatment and Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., getting muzzled on live TV. Was clear Trump didn’t want to be contradicted.” (emphases mine throughout)

I hasten to note here that I believe CNN correspondent Chris Cuomo was wise and correct when he encouraged reporters not to “politicize” Fauci by asking him questions in front of the President that would necessitate a contradiction. We need Fauci.

But look what this debate says about where we are in this country: reporters would have to censor themselves from asking questions that will provide much-needed scientific information to avoid embarrassing the President.

Fauci had said Sunday morning, on the “Face the Nation” TV program, that “in terms of science, I don’t think we could definitively say” this drug works for coronavirus. He had reportedly had a heated discussion with non-scientist Peter Navarro, Trump’s Director of Trade and Manufacturing, who had said there was “clear scientific evidence of the drug’s efficacy.

Fauci, who has a worldwide reputation dating back to his work during the AIDS epidemic, had said there was only anecdotal evidence. Trump obviously chose the non-scientist’s opinion over the scientist’s.

During Sunday’s briefing, Trump insisted that the drug is completely safe, with no side effects. But Megan L. Ranney, an emergency physician at Brown University, told a New York Times reporter that she’d never seen “an elected official advertise a ‘miracle cure’ the way Mr. Trump has done.” 

“There are side effects to hydroxychloroquine. It causes psychiatric symptoms, cardiac problems and a host of other bad side effects.”

When it is prescribed, it is used very cautiously. 

Some hospitals have been using it out of desperation. According to Dr. Adhi Shara, chief medical officer at the Mount Sinai South Nassau County branch of Mount Sinai Health Systems in Long Island, New York, they’ve been using hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin (which Trump also touts) “pretty much since day one.”

The results have been mixed, he told The New York Times.

“We’ve been throwing the kitchen sink at these patients. I can’t tell whether someone got better on their own or because of the medication.”

It is truly bizarre the extent to which the President has latched onto this alleged “miracle cure.” The Guardian has an excellent article describing the events leading up to the drug’s receiving the White House seal of approval. It’s worth reading the full article, but here’s an excerpt.

“The story of how hydroxychloroquine was anointed the Trump administration’s miracle drug for the coronavirus pandemic is a distinctly modern tale of misinformation within a global information ecosystem beset by widespread uncertainty, fear, media fragmentation and hyper-partisanship.

“Belief in the drug’s potential to cure patients infected with the virus followed an extraordinary trajectory from a small [and now acknowledged as highly flawed, not double-blinded or randomized controlled] study conducted in France (Trump’s “very good test”) to Silicon Valley social media influencers, Fox News, and the largest bully pulpit: the White House.

“But it’s also a story as old as medicine itself. When an epidemic killed thousands in ancient Rome, said Aaron Shakow, a research associate at Harvard Medical School and historian of medicine, the chief physician of the emperor Nero circulated a recipe for an old miracle cure.

“‘It was an attempt by Nero to sustain his legitimacy in the midst of this catastrophic event,’ Shakow said. ‘Epidemics are dangerous to rulers.’”

One can picture Trump, as the death toll exceeds projections, claiming that if only everyone had listened to him and taken this “safe” drug, hundreds of thousands of lives could have been saved.

And, not surprisingly, he also has a small financial interest in Sanofi, the drug company that makes a brand name version of this medication. Its patent has expired. Am I being too cynical to anticipate an effort to renew the patent due to the alleged urgent need?  Others around him also have financial interests in Sanofi, including one of his major donors.

Also not surprisingly, there are now shortages of the drug for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients, as well as for those stricken by malaria. These patients are suffering, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine that malaria patients may well die due to sudden redirections to the US of a drug that is effective for that disease, but not proven effective for COVID-19.

This is just one example of the perverse nature of Trump’s acting as spokesperson. 

The spread of such dangerous misinformation in real time has created a dilemma for news people. Forbes asked:

“At what point does taking the government’s daily coronavirus briefing become malpractice on the part of broadcasters? If experience tells us that day after day the President of the United States makes false or misleading statements about the pandemic that has shut down huge parts of America and forced millions to shelter in their homes, is returning the next day to air the next episode a rational decision—since it’s tradition to hear what the leader of the free world has to say?”

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, the subject of the article, says it is not a rational decision:

“I would stop putting those briefings on TV. Not out of spite, but because it’s misinformation. We should stop broadcasting it, honestly, because it’s gonna cost lives.” 

Some have said the mainstream networks should air only fact-checked, edited recaps. Others say, and do, air just a portion and then cut away and summarize the rest. Still others point out that since the news media’s own credibility has been questioned (in good measure, due to Trump’s “fake news” campaign), setting a separate set of rules for covering him would simply deepen the mistrust.

And this thoughtful view comes from Jack Schafer in Politico:

“The un-coverists greatest fear isn’t that Trump will lie or that Trump’s lies will somehow deceive them. What they worry about the most is that the average viewer will be sucked in by Trump’s lies. This paternalistic mindset holds that the same individual who can be trusted to vote in elections can’t be trusted on his own to listen to long, unbroken statements from the president. He must be guided and protected by volunteer censors. However well-meaning the un-coverists are, I find their efforts more troubling than I do Trump’s lies.”

I find this a very difficult and vexing decision—for both the newscasters and for us, the viewers.

The President is using these briefings to assuage his ego and campaign for reelection—as well as to continue to attack (and fire) the public servants and others who’ve blown the whistle on him or whom he views as personal threats for any reason. 

He is endangering us with his falsehoods and diverting us from the other harms he’s doing. (This just in: he’s fired the overseer of his administration’s handling of the $2 trillion relief package Congress just passed.) Nevertheless, he is the President. 

How do you think the news media—including White House correspondents in that small briefing room who are actually jeopardizing their own health—should handle these made-for-TV events?

And I hope we can extend this discussion to my fellow bloggers in other countries: Do you feel your leaders are over-reaching and taking advantage of the pandemic? What is happening there with regard to press coverage—and how is the public reacting? And what are your thoughts about what’s happening/should happen in the US?

Annie

59 thoughts on “The President’s Daily Coronavirus Briefings: What Do You Think the Press Should Do?

  1. It’s a small step, but we can each turn off the TV during the “state-TV-hour”.
    The networks (and the President) care about ratings.
    Any bits worth hearing, because there is information, or because the bits are outrageous, will be re-broadcast at later times.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s such a sensible suggestion—and by assuming the responsibility, we spare the press from having to make decisions that require all kinds of contortions from their mandate. But do you really think lower ratings will lead to changes in this President’s behavior?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There are two parts to your response.

        1.Regarding the press, lower ratings are not the only thing they think about, but they are one consideration. Lower ratings will both; make it easier for them to make the decision, and also help them explain the decision.

        2. Regarding the President’s behavior, I was not thinking about that. But since you ask, He has a narrow range of behavior’s so a change for the better is unlikely. HOWEVER, lower ratings are likely to frustrate him.

        How about a “general strike”. At 5 PM (or whatever time it starts), we turn off the TV for the duration of “state TV hour.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I just alluded to this in my response to Nan. Maybe you can answer this question. I just looked up the Nielsen ratings, which are apparently based on 40,000 representative homes and 100,000 people. If we’re not part of those samples, does our turning off the TV at 5 pm have an impact? Otherwise, I guess we could connect with the advertisers and express our views directly.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I watch most of the UK government’s daily briefings and find them generally informative. There are significant contributions from the medical and public health specialists who are physically well separated from the gov’t rep.. Press questions are dealt with intelligently and respectfully.
    I watched one USA briefing via CNN one day last week and was appalled. Not only was Trump shoulder to shoulder with his ‘people’, he was dismissive of many of the questions from press representatives. Were I a US citizen I would be ashamed to watch such a pantomime.
    The UK, even before the PM was hospitalised, used departmental ministers (Secretaries, I believe, in US terminology) to deal with specific aspects of the crisis: health, economy, foreign affairs (bringing our citizens home from effected regions). Where are the equivalents in the USA?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m tempted to say “Oh, to be in England…” though I know you’re facing your own challenges. You’re fortunate to have such a well-run information effort. As to your being appalled by what you saw, I’m just hoping enough Americans are appalled—and refuse to buy the snake oil in November.

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  3. Excellent post, Annie. A lot of well-analyzed information about Trump’s disastrously inept and misleading responses to the pandemic. Indeed, I think the most distressing sentence in this post is “Nevertheless, he is the President.” How incredibly unfortunate.

    Reporters for the NY Times, the the Washington Post, and other news outlets are doing what they can to counteract the misinformation coming from Trump, Pence, et al. My only suggestion to them is that they clearly call a lie a lie. This is not the time to gloss over any misleading statements even if, sadly, he’s the President.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I give such credit to the White House correspondents, who not only sit in that possibly contaminated small room but also suffer the indignities of his insults when they ask him anything the least bit probing. Yamiche Alcindor of PBS has shown such courage challenging him on the spot.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I think the press has focused far too much on what Trump has to say.

    He not only exults in the attention, but many (most?) of his comments are nothing but self-aggrandizing. Not to mention the fact that he spews out incorrect and often dangerous information. And, as you and others have pointed out, the news conferences are simply substitutes for his rallies.

    I’m aware that news organization are in heavy competition with each other and each one is hoping for that big scoop, but to continue giving this idiot a platform is hurting not only the citizens of this country but it (continues to) lower the respect for the U.S. around the world.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I really don’t know how “they” determine who’s watching what. Maybe through the cable or satellite providers? In any case, perhaps if “we” stopped watching this individual who bloviates incessantly … and stopped visiting news sites that opine about him … maybe it would get back to the Bloated One that he’s talking to an absent audience? Maybe?

        Shoot! Your guess is as good as mine, Annie.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Nielsen used to give boxes to willing participants, who attached them to their TV sets. I assume they’ve upgraded their approach. As I noted, “I” can’t watch him, though I occasionally tune in to see what Fauci has to say.
        PS: My question was quasi-rhetorical…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Anyone can bear to watch Trump’s self-promotional “Daily Coronavirus Press Briefings” must be a glutton for punishment….made worse by the fact that they’re carried by most, if not all, of the major news networks, including their local affiliates. This is overkill, plain and simple. I would urge that the briefings be carried by one network each day on a rotating basis, because it’s obvious that Trump is doing this for his own benefit (not the country’s), and the networks are being complicit in his scheme.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It was Jack, not Frank Schafer that you quoted.IMO, it highly arrogant to assert that critics of broadcasting misinformation (more often outright lies) are self-appointed “paternalistic” censors. Many friends and neighbors – people I like and respect – were repeating that pandemic warnings were “overblown”as late as March.
        Jack Shafer should just stfu with his assertion about others. The most egregious thing is stating that somehow decrying lies is as bad as the lies themselves.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I hear you (and thank you for correcting me on the first name; I hadn’t gone back to look). I like to insert contrarian views once in a while to make sure I’m not in a total bubble. And I certainly didn’t agree with most of what he said—especially the last line—I agree with your characterizing that as egregious. I do think, as I noted in response to someone else, that we need to persuade advertisers to boycott Fox News unless they stop lying about the pandemic. Maybe they can even persuade Fox they must fact-check trump’s lies. Thank you for your comment.

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  6. Hi Annie,
    I haven’t watched any of Trump’s daily briefings in their entirety, but I have seen some clips and read plenty of excerpts. He boggles my mind with his brazen disregard for science and human life. (I’ve been watching governors, most notably Andrew Cuomo, fight for the people of their states and for supplies and relief for their health care workers). Trump’s lack of respect for his fellow politicians and everyday heroes alike – not to mention the average citizen – is truly sad. He cares only for “business” (read between the lines – money).
    I truly hope the American public vote him out of office in November.
    Here in Canada we have been greatly slighted by his order to 3M to not ship supplies that were ordered months ago to Canada. The management of 3M responded to Trump saying they had to honour the orders for a number of important reasons. He didn’t care. This as 2000 healthcare workers from Ontario cross the border into Detroit everyday, putting their lives on the line to deal with a vicious outbreak of covid-19. Trump is so shortsighted, so impulsive, that he cannot see the importance of maintaining a close diplomatic relationship with his neighbour to the North (Canada and the US have the largest trading relationship in the world).
    A couple of weeks ago he made an offhand remark about sending 1000 American troops to guard the US/Canada border… I could go on and on.
    Here our prime minister comes out of his home (where he is self-isolating) everyday to brief the press. Our provincial premiers and chief medical officers do daily briefings as well. Today, for example, here in my province, we were presented models showing that we have flattened the curve and encouraging us to stay the course.
    I feel for the people of the US. I know there are so many suffering under his leadership. And I am very, very glad that the US has people like you, Annie, who are not afraid to speak out in the face of injustice and corruption.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. I thoroughly agree with everything you’ve noted, Janine. And thank for your kind words. I just hope enough of us will see clearly the extent of harm that he and his enablers have done to our country, our allies, and the world.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s late here Annie, past 12, so my comments will be brief…..but you know as a retired health care professional I am just appalled by his drug promotion, in so many many ways. (I only watch CNN at my mothers but have caught a few of these press briefings, which just confirms my opinion of this “unstable molecule” of a man.) The thing that worries me is that by touting this drug he will twist it into an election spin/campaign about how many lives he saved – have already heard of one Michigan woman who said she only took it because the president recommended it and she was cured. She may have recovered anyway, hence the importance of proper clinical trials. But multiply that by many more, and you have the makings of a saviour! As well he warned that people with heart disease shouldn’t take it, but the drug interactions causing QT prolongation are an arrhythmia problem and can only be diagnosed by a baseline and follow up EKG and a whole host of other risk factors, that the patient would not even be aware of. and it is often problematic for clinicians to sort out who is at risk when these drug interactions pop up on the drug databases, and they do frequently. It’s like he lumped all heart disease into the same category. A perfect example of a know-it all who knows nothing but thinks he knows everything. Same as he went on and on about how people don’t know how to build roads and infrastructure and he was such an expert on road construction. It’s fascinating to me in a way, like watching a case study of mental illness in real time, but sad too. Here, Trudeau has bungled some stuff IMO, but he shows up every day and talks sense. I’ve been more impressed with our Ontario premier Doug Ford. We are getting regular updates from our health ministers too, and our local public health teams. I guess this wasn’t a brief response! So I won’t go into the 3M mask situation, but I believe some of the wood product for the filters is a BC product, so he reversed the decision the next day after some negotiation. We have a very strong deputy prime minister, Christina Freeland, who negotiated the NAFTA deal, who resolved that one.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Joni, for providing some solid medical information: the complexities of the heart implications are so important for people to know. I am deeply concerned that the questionable results of the drug’s impact—no one knows if it helped or people just recovered, and who knows how many died from the drug but their deaths were attributed to the virus?, etc,—will be used to make him the savior. And once again his pals at Fox News are pushing for the end to self-quarantine, which will surely reverse the gains we’ve been making. It’s incredible to me that we have such a demagogue at such a crucial time. I appreciate your taking the time to add your thoughtful comments.
      On your side of what used to be a happy border, I’ve heard that Christa Friedland and Doug Ford have made an unusual bipartisan alliance, but I haven’t found an article about it. Can you give some background? If only we could rise above partisanship here! Hard to believe a pandemic can’t do it…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. All I could find right now is an article from McLeans magazine. Here’s the linkhttps://www.macleans.ca/opinion/doug-fords-surprising-turn/:
        I by no means think he was as disliked before as this article implies, but he did bungle some things in his first years in office, namely the autism file and the teachers union strike, but basically he was voted in by the majority to balance the books, because the Liberals after 8 years of Kathleen Wynne were running us into ground with debt and scandals and spend spend spend. They only retained 7 seats in the last election, not even enough to maintain official party status, which has defaulted now to the usual 3rd place NDP party. So of course when Ford tries to balance the books some groups are upset. His animosity over Trudeau had to do with the carbon tax, which he took the federal government to court over. He seems to be have put that aside though, for now. But his coming out as a leader, actually make Trudeau look even weaker. Trudeau’s problem is he’s an ideologist, not a realist, I think to be a good leader you have to be both, plus you have to be smart, which he is not. Climate change is an example, he can’t make up his mind about whether he supports it or the oil-based western economy. If you straddle the fence, no one respects you. I suspect he won’t get re-elected. Christa Freeland is a negotiator, good at getting along with people, which is why Trudeau made her deputy prime minister, a position he created for her, IMO because he knew he was in over his head. Trudeau was a trust fund baby, a drama teacher, and IMO not very smart. Here is her CV https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrystia_Freeland A Harvard, Oxford and Rhodes scholar, with an economic background too.
        She does have a tendency to be a bit outspoken though, hence the mess with Saudi Arabia over the womens rights. I also like Peter McKay, who will probably win the Conservative nomination when the federal leadership convention resumes. Andrew Scheer is stepping down because he lost to Trudeau. I suspect Mackay will be our next PM – smart, and experienced in federal politics with many portfolios to his credit. I liked Harper as he had an economic background too. I doubt Trump ever took Economics 101. I know your question had to do more with different parties working together, but the division between them is not so bitter or entrenched or far apart as things seem to be in the States.

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      2. Thanks so much for tracking this down, Joni. It’s interesting and inspiring. I just hope we’ll eventually see relationships like these in our govt. Take good care. Your new post awaits me when I’m fresh in the am.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. OK, I understand that it is simply not within your constitution to find or say even one positive thing about the man or his presidency. You are not alone. But I think we are seeing “Good Trump” right now. He is always raw and unfiltered, and in this time when nobody knows what to do or what might work, he is trying. He has surrounded himself with some credible people, and all of the debate and questioning that would be going on behind the scenes with anyone else is playing right out there for all of us to see, in real time.

    He is in an ugly situation through no fault of his own. He is trying to do the right things. Some of the ideas are good and some are not, and there have been both good and bad decisions made. This would have been the case with anyone, and we will have lots of time to go back and look at his successes and failures. But if a time when most of the country is on a quarantine lockdown because of a pandemic is not the time for daily press briefings, I don’t know when that time would be.

    I have not understood the politicization of the medicine issue. Some argue that there has not been enough study, others report anecdotal success. The stuff either works or it doesn’t, and we will all find out soon enough. But the fact that Laura Ingram or Trump praises it doesn’t make it good or bad.

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    1. JP, my friend. I actually started my post by saying how hard I struggle—due to my efforts to continually act out of lovingkindness—to be able to tolerate this President. But I repeatedly fail.
      Having said that, I would love to be able to praise his efforts. I do not think a pandemic is the time for partisan politics. Unfortunately, that is the only way he can function. It is appalling, and his egocentric nonsense has caused more deaths than were necessary and will continue to do so.
      He lies repeatedly. He lies about his lies. And then he blames others. What ever happened to “the buck stops here”? If you had a child who was suffering because she couldn’t get her lupus meds because of this shortage—as a man wrote in a letter to the editor of The NY Times—you might see some of the damage he has wrought with his calculating, self-interested pushing of this unproven drug. It was he who politicized the medicine. Anecdotal success in medical terms is meaningless because without a placebo-controlled, double-blind study, you just don’t know whether it’s working or not. A president has no business interfering with the scientists’ pursuit of the truth. And he is using this pandemic to hide all his other acts that are dangerous to our democracy.
      I will have more to say on this issue.
      I am a patriotic American who loves this country, and it breaks my heart to see it being destroyed by a charlatan who doesn’t know anything except self-aggrandizement and self-preservation. And his behavior in this pandemic has shown that. It didn’t have to be as bad as it is, and if the self-quarantine is prematurely lifted, it will be much, much worse.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Anecdotal success in medical terms is meaningless”

        I cannot believe you are really saying this. It is certainly not as good as multiple double-blind studies, but it is far from meaningless. The number of common off-label uses of old medications should tell us this. And all the supplements sold at the GNC. There is some truth to the old quip that “the plural of anecdote is data.” Far from the best data, but data nonetheless.

        But I think we agree that this debate is best left to the medical community to hash out. The doctors may disagree with one another, but at least their opinions are informed by training and experience – as opposed to the opinions of politicians, media figures and people like us.

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      2. I don’t have a medical degree, but I did work as a writer/editor in the medical field for many years–often fact-checking and correcting physicians’ manuscripts. Anecdotal evidence is not valued on a major scale like this president is advocating. That’s precisely why Fauci tried to get Trump to stop his nonsense. That’s also why the journal where the study that is the center of this maelstrom has negated having published it–because its validity is doubtful. Read Joni’s comment; she’s a trained medical professional.

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    2. JP, you wrote: He is in an ugly situation through no fault of his own.

      I disagree. You are correct that the appearance of coronavirus was not his fault. But he DID have control over its spread when it started appearing on the shores of the United States. Instead, he pooh-poohed the idea that it was dangerous, downplayed the threat it presented, and insisted it was all going to go away with only a few people being affected. Even today, he’s trying to push it under the table and tossing out the idea that social distancing should be eased.

      This man’s ONLY interest and concern is how HE will benefit from any given situation. He could care less about his role as leader of this country … unless or until it begins to benefit HIM.

      The fact that he DID surround himself with credible people is the only reason preventive steps were finally put in place.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. I said weeks ago that the best thing Trump could do at these conferences is to “shut up”, and leave the talking to the real experts. He took over the apparent leadership of these, I’m sure, because he felt the need to appear to be “in charge” (vs. Pence), but his appearances in front of the whole world on TV only serve to demonstrate his arrogance, lack of knowledge, inability to take any criticism, and inability to stay on one line of thought in any of his responses. CNN, and, I think, MSNBC, have stopped showing Trump’s leading “presentations” at least. I do also like to hear what Dr.Birx and Dr. Fauci have to say. Also, it was interesting to learn that Peter Navarro (not usually my favorite person), who is supposedly one of Trump’s leading advisors, wrote an alarming memo about the dangers of a Coronavirus pandemic, in January, I think. Trump claims he didn’t see this–Huh??, who was the memo for?
    Thanks for another great post, Annie!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, George. Yes, Peter Navarro wrote that damning memo. Unfortunately, he’s also the one who took it upon himself to gather stuff about the drug in question and apparently started that battle with Fauci. Not my favorite person either. Take care.

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  10. I haven’t been watching them — I don’t even have a TV — so I don’t know directly how bad they are. But because Trump is still the most powerful man in the world (using the word “man” in its broadest possible sense), it’s probably futile to try to treat his bloviations as less than newsworthy.

    Still, they should be giving Biden equal time — he is the de facto Democratic nominee now. And they really do need to bite the bullet and fact-check what he says. Bring in outside experts to do it, or interview them to do it, if they’re afraid of being accused of bias. His claims about hydroxychloroquine are especially egregious. We don’t know yet whether it’s effective against covid-19, because clinical trials have not been completed yet. Until they are, we can’t know. And since it has substantial side effects, giving it to covid-19 patients might be further endangering their health for no benefit.

    Clinical trials to test a drug’s effectiveness on a new disease take only a few weeks. It’s not like needing to wait a year or two for a vaccine. There’s no excuse for this. The misinformation needs to be corrected. At least one person has already died from swallowing something he mistakenly believed was the chloroquine drug Trump was talking about.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I was stuck, however, on your comment that clinical trials take only a few weeks. I think the initial assessment can be that brief, but phase 3, the process that precedes approval, can range from one to four years. If you’re speaking of something different, please let me know.

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  11. Sickening. As you well describe. You ask an important but hard question as to those in the briefing room. If they cross the guy, they will be belittled and soon enough barred from entry. I think the evening news network reporters have to hold the line — defend their fellow reporters in the briefing room by calmly relaying the facts: the question asked, the stupid answer, the belittling, the falsehoods, the arrogance.

    I also hope Biden picks up his game. That too is tough as it could backfire. If he slams this president, as I so wish to hear, then he could be accused of profiting from a tragedy. My own meager response is to find the people I trust and listen to them: Dr. Fauci, Sanjay Gupta, Bill Gates (see his TED talk?), and now Gov Cuomo. I wish I could add Biden to the list.

    Finally, what I don’t get is how his approval ratings could be double-digit let alone (according to some polls) up. How is that even remotely possible?

    Without the press, we’re doomed. With the press, we are not saved, not today, not when a blow-hard maniac has the loudest microphone.

    Thanks for your work here. Always excellent.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes; Bill Gates’s TEDTalk was extraordinary. Today I saw a clip of Obama from 2014, stressing that an airborne virus pandemic was likely, and we must prepare and have everything in place—not just in the US, but in other countries as well.
      And I saw Susan Rice saying that she handed a 69-page book to her predecessor, Michael Flynn (now in jail) that she has elsewhere referred to as “pandemics for dummies” because it was a step-by-step blueprint for how to minimize the damage of what they knew was coming.
      I agree: Biden is in a tough spot, but Trump’s numbers are now dropping. I think Biden has the right instincts and good people around him, like Ron Klain and Jim Clyburn. But what a huge mess he’ll face if he’s hopefully elected.
      And thanks for your encouragement—so very appreciated.

      Like

  12. I hate to repeat myself. I really do hate to repeat myself. But I will repeat myself
    I have been saying for years that the man is mentally ill. He shows all the signs. And as such I give him the benefit of the doubt I would give any mentally ill person. I pretty much ignore what he says.
    The job is too much for him. He has not a clue as to how to run an efficient, honest organization. He spends his time blaming others in the vain hope that by doing so he seems bigger. He doesn’t.
    In 2014 President Obama asked for extra funds from Congress to build a structure to combat future pandemics. They did. When Trump came into office he dismantled the structure. Hence, when the inevitable pandemic hit, the US was unprepared. Anything Obama accomplished, the mentally ill guy has set out to destroy. Health care. Environmental safety. Sane fiscal policy. Gays in the military. Anything Obama did, he wants to do the opposite. There is really no “rational” explanation for this. He is mentally ill.
    He suggests people try medicines that are not approved by the FDA. He blames China. He blames the Democrats. He blames the press. He blames WHO. In his own words ” I don’t take responsibility” is one of the very few times he speaks the truth.
    …Remember when we used to think of presidents as men who said: “The buck stops here?” Well, the mentally ill guy has passed the buck to the states. And now he is blaming the states. Not my faultism.
    The Trump response to this crisis was predictable and predicted. His entire life has been one of failures and avoiding responsibility. Of blaming others. Not paying his bills. Using lawyers to destroy his opponents. Recall how he was going to “hire the best people”? Well, the only “best people” left after 3 years of constant purges are his family members.
    To be clear. I don’t BLAME Trump for his mental illness. He can’t help it. But I do blame the entire GOP and Fox News for supporting and enabling his rise to power.
    When you have a 72 year old mentally ill uncle who talks to himself, spouts nonsense and spends his time tweeting about his imaginary enemies, you don’t give him the car keys and tell him to drive your kids to Omaha.
    I hate to repeat myself. But I will repeat myself. The man is mentally ill. Accept it and pray.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Well, then, all our energies must go to taking the keys away from him in November. But I think he’s very good at self-preservation and has managed to fool a hell of a lot of people—or to align himself with the self-interests of enough people in critical places. We’ve gotta figure out how to counter him as long as the Electoral College remains.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Wow, that’s just about the best summary I’ve read on his mental illness. I definitely agree as per my comments above. Anyone with any familiarity with narcissistic personality with shades of bipolar disorder can see it very clearly, but even without any medical background, it should be obvious that his is not “normal” behavior and those around him pretending it is are part of the problem.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. We’ve always felt they were part of the problem. We have one political party that is and has been enabling him from day 1– even as they determined from Obama’s day 1 that they would not help him accomplish anything.

        Liked by 2 people

  13. Joni had some good points above, my NP wife was horrified at Trumps “Take the hydroxychloroquine, what have you got to lose?” remarks. She’s prescribed it, people can lose their sight or hearing, or their life. You really have to watch that stuff. And yes JP, without clinical trials anecdotal evidence is meaningless or worse.

    My lot is in with health care for all and leaders that talk sense. Trudeau is not my favorite but he has a good team behind him.

    Stay well everyone.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Doug! I’m glad you’re adding vital information.

      Trump may have to cut back because his ratings are dropping and even the conservative Wall St Jrl Ed Board told him we need to see less of him.
      Hope your wife has what she needs to stay safe—and you take care too.

      Like

  14. It is my understanding here in Canada that hospitals are already trialing the choroquine/hydroxychloroquine drugs, so it’s not as if desperately sick patients are being denied treatment with something which might work. Doctors can also order it off-label if they don’t wish to or are unable to participate in the trials. There’s even a study -The COVID19 Postexposure Prophylaxis RCT which will randomly assign patients to hydroxychloroquine or placebo postexposure and in early treatment of disease, through an Internet system and home delivery of study medications. But at least you have a medical doctor making the decision, and evaluating the patient’s risk factors such as renal and liver function, QT prolongation etc. Medicine is seldom ever as black and white as Trump makes it out to be. For just as many anecdotes of people who think it saved them, there are the opposite. A 41 year old man who died here of COVID was given hydroxycholoquine once hospitalized, (ten days seems to be the danger point for many), initially improved and then died a week later. Believe me on a young person like that the doctors will try anything. His only risk factor was diabetes. Can you say it worked or didn’t work? Maybe it worked, but was started too late, or the dose was too low? Only proper studies can sort that out…. This is my last word, folks, going to bed! It’s snowing again, so spring is over.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, and welcome to annieasksyou! I’m a bit caught between Rachel’s exhortation to shut down all coverage to stop the lies and Jack Shafer’s belief that viewers are
      grown up enough to decide for themselves. I think a compromise is to cover the briefings only when the scientists are speaking—and then show clips of trump after fact-checking and only when he’s actually said something newsworthy. At the same time, there should be much more coverage of Joe Biden. The press gave trump an unearned gift of too much free airtime pre-election, and they shouldn’t make that mistake again.
      I’d also love to see a massive effort to persuade Fox’s advertisers to tell their powers that be that if they don’t start telling the truth, those critical ad dollars will go away. Fox’s impact on trump and his followers is now clearly hazardous to the health and life of us all.
      Thanks for asking!

      Like

  15. we know what trump is. he’s not going to change. The PRESS has to step up. I’d suggest framing a question (not really a question) THIS way:

    “You repeatedly claim that nobody could have predicted the coronavirus pandemic. However, you’ve been in office for three years, AND you were warned repeatedly about pandemic threats, starting with a briefing before you even took the oath of office. US intel reports warned of a pandemic from china as early as January of this year, and this was a major subject of your briefings.
    “So it’s time you stopped blaming others and admit that your failure to act in a timely manner has made a bad situation exponentially worse. I know this isn’t a question, so be it.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, and welcome. That’s a fine statement, and I’d be willing to watch the coverage just to see trump’s face. Two problems: he controls the microphone, so he’d surely cut off the speaker and maybe even eject
      him/her from the briefing room. And that would lead to the brave correspondent’s being banned from subsequent attendance—losing that position and possibly jeopardizing his/her employment.

      Like

  16. “This paternalistic mindset holds that the same individual who can be trusted to vote in elections can’t be trusted on his own to listen to long, unbroken statements from the president. He must be guided and protected by volunteer censors. However well-meaning the un-coverists are, I find their efforts more troubling than I do Trump’s lies.”
    Considering a lot of them voted for Trump, they can’t really be trusted to vote responsibly, but setting that aside, there is a huge population that can’t sift through his statements and separate truth from lie. They believe him over all other sources, they even believe him when he directly contradicts himself.

    It is annoying when they believe him saying the “pussygrabber” recording was a hoax, but nobody dies because of it. People who swallow his Covid lies are endangering other people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most of me agrees with you, which is why I said I think there should only be the scientists and then edited portions of a fact-checked trump. But I do have some nagging thoughts about who decides what in our dangerously delicate democracy at this point.

      Like

    1. I guess my response would be two-fold: 1) The press are not our leaders; they’re necessary in a democratic society, which we strive to be but seem to be losing ground, to reveal important information to which we would otherwise not have access; 2) if ever there was a time when it was obvious how badly “grown men” and women and children need intelligent, informed, and hopefully compassionate leaders, that time is now.

      Liked by 1 person

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