U.S President Donald Trump speaks during the final press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron during the G7 summit Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, in Biarritz, southwestern France. French president says he hopes for meeting between US President Trump and Iranian President Rouhani in coming weeks. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan has called for networks to stop live broadcasts of President Trump’s daily task force briefings which she considers to be dangerous and destructive. She sees them as substitutes for his massive campaign rallies.
Sullivan writes, “These White House sessions — ostensibly meant to give the public critical and truthful information about this frightening crisis — are in fact working against that end. Rather, they have become a daily stage for Trump to play his greatest hits to captive audience members. They come in search of life-or-death information, but here’s what they get from him instead: Self-aggrandizement, media-bashing, exaggeration and outright lies.”
Trump is doing harm and spreading misinformation while working for his own partisan political benefit — a naked attempt to portray himself as a wartime president bravely leading the nation through a tumultuous time, the FDR of the 21st century.
The press — if it defines its purpose as getting truthful, useful, non-harmful information to the public, as opposed to merely juicing its own ratings and profits — must recognize what is happening and adjust accordingly.
Business as usual simply doesn’t cut it. Minor accommodations, like fact-checking the president’s statements afterward, don’t go nearly far enough to counter the serious damage this man is doing to the public’s well-being.
Radical change is necessary: The cable networks and other news organizations that are taking the president’s briefings as live feeds should stop doing so.
Should they cover the news that’s produced in them? Of course. Thoroughly and relentlessly — with context and fact-checking built in to every step and at every stage.
Read the whole article here.
The real reason for Sullivan’s consternation is that four polls released last week showed that the majority of Americans approve of Trump’s management of the crisis.
ABC News/ Ipsos: 53 percent
Harris Poll: 53 percent
Morning Consult: 53 percent
Survey USA: 51 percent
Several top Democrats have even praised Trump’s efforts recently. California Gov. Gavin Newsom and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have both publicly complimented the President on his response to the needs of their states. Several days ago, CNN host Dana Bash commended his handling of the crisis.
Many Americans find the daily broadcasts reassuring. They see that the President is steering the ship and they take comfort from that. He is navigating us through unfamiliar and frightening waters.
Sullivan comes across as bitter, small and highly partisan in this piece. Her motive is clear. She wants to stop this man from winning reelection. If he can win over even a small margin of independents who are on the fence or worse, Democrats, he’ll be unstoppable.
Sullivan isn’t the first Democrat to call for an end to the daily Trump broadcasts. On Friday, far-left MSNBC host Rachel Maddow beat her to the punch. Maddow tweeted, “If Trump is going to keep lying like he has been every day on stuff this important, we should, all of us, stop broadcasting it. Honestly, it’s going to cost lives.” (Her comments can be heard on video at the bottom of the page.)
There’s no doubt the broadcasts are benefitting President Trump. But they are also providing the American people with something that is vital during a national crisis: Leadership.
The media must stop live-broadcasting Trump’s dangerous, destructive coronavirus briefings. My column https://t.co/nIs5L051zq
— Margaret Sullivan (@Sulliview) March 21, 2020
Maddow: If Trump is going to keep lying like he has been every day on stuff this important, we should, all of us, stop broadcasting it. Honestly, it's going to cost lives. pic.twitter.com/tMvyrE3YTK
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) March 21, 2020