Our commander-in-chief is ranting away at his daily press show, insisting over and over that he acted earlier on the coronavirus than anyone in the whole world. He keeps yelling January 17th! as if it’s some kind of talisman. January 17th! No cases! No deaths! And you think I should have shut down the country?
I’m not sure why he picked January 17 as his magical date, and needless to say, no one was suggesting he should have locked down the country on January 17. Lots of people are suggesting that he should have used, say, the month of February to prepare for a spreading pandemic by stockpiling supplies; using the bully pulpit; and taking the whole thing seriously. Instead, even at the end of February, he was still minimizing the likely spread of the virus: “When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”
This, of course, is just more of the usual. But in a new low—they just keep coming, don’t they?—Trump used his press briefing to air a campaign video that defended his response and instead laid the blame at the feet of . . . the press:
This is bad enough. But here’s the weird part: the clips of the media “minimizing the risk” are all from Fox News. And it’s certainly true that Fox dutifully followed Trump’s lead during February by downplaying the pandemic risk. But why pick on Fox? Trump certainly could have found at least a clip or two from the other cable nets as well. This was very clearly a deliberate choice.
But what does it mean? Is it a shot across the bow at Fox News? Or what?
UPDATE: I see that I misread the “Fox News” clips. They are actually all clips from an episode of Hannity in which Sean Hannity plays clips from other networks downplaying the pandemic. This is an odd choice, but obviously Trump’s intention was to buddy up with Hannity and blame the non-Fox media for minimizing things. This is breathtakingly dishonest, of course, but that’s Trump for you.
CNN's Jim Acosta: "That is the biggest meltdown of a president of the United States that I've ever seen in my career. I don't think a reasonable person could watch what we just saw over the last hour and conclude that the president is in control."
— Helen Kennedy (@HelenKennedy) April 13, 2020
.@PaulaReidCBS presses Pres. Trump about his administration's early actions on the coronavirus, after he spent the beginning of his press conference complaining about his media coverage https://t.co/ySmFq3sUis pic.twitter.com/iKuTfTqg4I
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 13, 2020