Trump’s Press Briefing Was A Campaign Rally, Full Stop
April 13, 2020
Tonight, Trump completed his transformation of the White House press briefings that should be used to get facts to Americans facing the coronavirus pandemic into campaign rallies where he spouts misinformation to try to cover up for his failed response.
POLITICIZED THE CRISIS:
Trump turned today’s “press briefing” into a campaign rally. He was unhinged, lashed out, and made the crisis all about himself.
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny: “As we’ve been watching for weeks, the White House briefing room has steadily morphed into a campaign rally. Tonight, President Trump takes it even further by playing a propaganda video before delivering up-to-the-minute facts about coronavirus, which is still at crisis levels.”
NBC News’s Kelly O’Donnell: “The campaign style highlight reel did not include any of the statements the president made over weeks where he downplayed or gave false info about the virus.”
USA Today: “Trump on the defensive: A White House coronavirus briefing becomes a campaign rally”
Washington Post’s Philip Rucker: “This briefing makes clear that the paramount concern for Trump is Trump — his self-image, what people write and say about him in the media, and whether he is praised or criticized.”
Trump had taxpayer-funded White House staff produce campaign propaganda defending his coronavirus response, which was full of misleading clips and conveniently left out the weeks of public statements Trump made downplaying the severity of the crisis and ignoring warnings from his administration to take early action.
CNN’s Jim Acosta: “WH just played what appeared to be a campaign video defending Trump. In the briefing room. Just like a rally”
Star Tribune’s Scott Gillespie: President Trump is now airing a campaign-style video at his rally/news conference.”
CNN’s John King: “To play a propaganda video at taxpayer expense in the White House briefing room is a new — you can insert your favorite word here — in this administration. … That’s just plain-out propaganda.”
New York Times’s Maggie Haberman: “The president is using audio of me on The Daily to bash my reporting in the paper (though I’m so glad they listen to the Daily). Their use of the audio is misleading – I went on to say I said he treated that travel limitation as a Mission Accomplished moment. And then he did basically nothing for over a month. Which was our story yesterday.”
Trump continued his trend of defying the Constitution and claiming that so long as he is president, he has power to do whatever he pleases with no accountability.
TRUMP: “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total.”
TRUMP: “They can’t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.”
CNN’s Daniel Dale: “Trump again making his highly questionable claim about his power to reopen things, not citing any law/precedent/constitutional clause but declaring, ‘The president of the United States calls the shots.’”
Carnegie Endowment’s Aaron David Miller: “Trump says President has total authority. As Harry Truman said about Nixon — he may have read Constitution but he didn’t understand it. In Trump’s case given his statement today, he clearly didn’t even read it.”
CNN’s Marshall Cohen: “Nobody should be surprised by Trump’s claims about the Constitution and what powers it supposedly gives him. He did this all the time during the Mueller probe, to defend conduct that Mueller later said qualified as obstruction.”
SPINNING HIS FAILURES:
Trump repeated the tired lie that the United States was fully prepared for the crisis with enough medical equipment and supplies.
TRUMP: “Everything we did was right. Governors should have had ventilators, they chose not to have them. We chose to get them ventilators. They got the ventilators.”
TRUMP: “Nobody’s asking for ventilators, except outside of our country. Nobody’s asking for beds.”
Reuters: “The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has acknowledged there aren’t enough ventilators in the Strategic National Stockpile to meet demand, and is distributing units to states most in need. … Some states have criticized the federal government for crowding them out of the market.”
Los Angeles Times’s Chris Megerian: “‘Just like we didn’t have ammunition, we didn’t have medical supplies.’ Trump never gives up his old falsehoods, he just adds to them.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta: “Trump: ‘We inherited a stockpile where the cupboards are bare.’ This is not true.”
Trump tried to cover up for his inaction by pointing out that he didn’t act in January because there were “no deaths and no cases.” But experts and his own administration warned then about the need for mitigation strategies that Trump did not implement until mid-March.
Washington Post’s Aaron Blake: “Trump is using a straw man, suggesting a false choice between shutting everything down in January and doing nothing. NYT’s report didn’t say health officials were recommending a total shutdown in February — just that people should be warned and encouraging social distancing.”
Huffington Post’s S.V. Date: “Trump is pretending that people wanted him to ‘close down’ the country back in January or early February. What if he’d taken the problem seriously and made testing and medical supplies production a top priority two months ago? THAT is all these critical articles are about.”
ABC News’s Karen Travers: “Trump defends not taking action earlier. ‘How do you close it up, you have no deaths and no cases’ in January. @jonkarl: ‘You didn’t close until the middle of March. It’s not about January.’”
Trump touted his restriction on travel from China by falsely claiming “you can’t get earlier.” In reality, Trump didn’t act until more than three dozen countries had already restricted travel from China and nearly 400,000 people had arrived from China after the coronavirus outbreak was disclosed.
TRUMP: “On January 31, not one person has died … and I issued a travel restriction from China. … You can’t get earlier than that.”
Washington Post: “In any case, the United States certainly was not the first country — by a long shot. … By the time Trump’s restrictions took effect Feb. 2, an additional 15 countries had taken similar actions — and in some cases enacted even tougher bans. But in any case, that adds up to 38 countries taking action before or at the same time the U.S. restrictions were put in place.”
New York Times: “Since Chinese officials disclosed the outbreak of a mysterious pneumonialike illness to international health officials on New Year’s Eve, at least 430,000 people have arrived in the United States on direct flights from China, including nearly 40,000 in the two months after President Trump imposed restrictions on such travel.”
Reuters: “Reuters has found that the administration took a month from the time it learned of the outbreak in late December to impose the initial travel restrictions amid furious infighting.