WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has a new daily ritual now that the pandemic has put the kibosh on the signature campaign rallies that helped him get elected four years ago: the coronavirus briefing.
Standing on the once-abandoned White House briefing room stage flanked by public health experts, Trump holds court with reporters and directly addresses the American people, providing updates on his administration’s efforts to combat the pandemic and trying to demonstrate that he’s in charge.
The updates are far more staid than his raucous rallies and lack the adoring crowds and “Lock her up!” chants of the political gatherings. But they include many of the same features as his now-on-ice mass rallies: plenty of self-congratulation and airing of grievances, press bashing, tirades against his critics, and an ample dose of misleading information.
The press briefings have also raised questions about whether news outlets should be airing them live, without fact-checking, given Trump’s penchant for exaggeration and misstatements.
Margaret Sullivan, media columnist for The Washington Post, said Monday that the briefings were beginning to sound like substitutes for Trump’s campaign rallies and were working against the goal of giving the public critical and truthful information.
“They have become a daily stage for Trump to play his greatest hits to captive audience members,” she wrote.
MSNBC star Rachel Maddow went even further.
“All of us should stop broadcasting it, honestly,” she said. “It’s going to cost lives.”