Inside the Beltway: Critics demand full media blackout of Trump coronavirus briefings

It is almost unthinkable in a national emergency. Journalists and commentators are now calling for a complete media blackout of President Trump’s live briefings on the coronavirus pandemic, concerned that these daily TV events promote misinformation of have turned into a Trump “rally.”

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These critics overlook the fact, however, that Mr. Trump shares the podium with vital members of his task force including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The briefings also include official information, timely discussion and questions from the press.

Nevertheless, the call to silence Mr. Trump has been percolating for the last 72 hours.

“The media must stop live-broadcasting Trump’s dangerous, destructive coronavirus briefings. He’s just using them a substitute for his rallies. Put him on tape-delay so journalists can counter his rush of information,” writes Washington Post media analyst Margaret Sullivan.

MSNBC prime-time host Rachel Maddow is also calling for a blackout, deeming Mr. Trump’s statements as “needlessly diverting and wildly irresponsible” and that the public needs to “inoculate” themselves to it.

“The daily briefing is a litany of things from the president that would be awesome of they were true, if they were happening. But they’re not. The sooner we come to terms with that, the better for all of us,” Ms. Maddow said in a on-air commentary. “It’s misinformation. 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,” she concluded.

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There is already a #blackouttrump hashtag circulating on social media.

“If President Trump is not capable of leading stably and effectively, he should for the good of the country stop making things worse, and consider leaving the podium to others,” said CNN host Jake Tapper on his own broadcast.

Viewers may not agree with this idea. Multiple polls suggest that the public approves of Mr. Trump’s response to the pandemic, including an ABC News survey which found that 55% approved of the president’s actions during the pandemic.

One observer smells a rat, citing the timing of the “blackout” call.

“It is no accident this insidious and un-American idea arrived the day after a number of polls showed a clear majority of the public approving of Trump’s handling of the Wuhan virus,” writes Breitbart News editor at large John Nolte, who traced calls for a Trump blackout to such news organizations as The Atlantic, NBC News, The Boston Globe, the Nation, and “former Obama officials.”

Is the “Deep State” in on it? Mr. Nolte believes the push to remove Mr. Trump from the media realm is meant to turn the coronavirus pandemic into “Trump’s Katrina,” referring to former President George W. Bush’s experiences during Hurricane Katrina, which killed 1,883 people and caused $108 billion in damages in 2005. The weather event was often referred to as “a political storm.”


“Three cheers for President Trump’s success in forcing a federal bureaucracy that normally moves at the speed of a glacier to begin working at ‘Trump Speed,’” writes American Thinker contributor William Noel.

“That’s why they call it the Trump train,” responds Lucianne Goldberg, founder of, a political news site.


Though he is currently confined to his own home Delaware due to the coronavirus pandemic, Democratic presidential hopeful Joseph R. Biden plans to offer “shadow briefings” on the national emergency.

In a press call, Mr. Biden announced he was in the process of upgrading space in his house to include enough high tech equipment to livestream his coronavirus commentary via the internet. The former vice president also has renewed his pushback against President Trump — advising him to “stop saying false things” about the health crisis.

Politico has already deemed Mr. Biden’s plan as a “shadow briefing” and predicts the new feature could start as early as Monday.

“In times of crisis, the American people deserve a president who tells them the truth and takes responsibility. Donald Trump has not been that president,” Mr. Biden declared in a recent tweet.

The former vice president is not holding back now — and has already debuted an online “COVID-19 Breakdown” video with Ron Klain, the White House Ebola Response coordinator during the Obama administration.


“The coronavirus epidemic is shaking humanity and turning the world upside down. Quick, somebody alert the media. The Washington press corps is covering one of the largest, continuing stories in recent history the same way it has covered the Trump administration since Day One. The formula is simple: Whatever the president does is not just wrong, it’s borderline evil. Details at 11,” writes New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin.

“In the real world, events are unfolding at a pace and scale impossible to comprehend. But at too many news outlets, the aim is not to inform. It’s to render the harshest possible judgment on the man journalists love to hate,” he says.


Should the presidential election be canceled or delayed in the year of coronavirus? Uh, no. A new Rasmussen Reports voter survey finds that 62% of voters oppose the idea; 25% approve and the rest are undecided.

“There is virtually no difference of opinion among Republicans, Democrats and voters not affiliated with either major party on this question,” the pollster said.


75% of U.S. voters believe China is “very” or “somewhat” responsible for the spread of coronavirus.

65% blame “individuals who are not staying inside their homes at this time.”

45% blame the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

43% blame President Trump.

34% blame Vice President Mike Pence.

Source: A Morning Consult poll of 2,006 U.S. adults conducted March 17-20; respondents could give multiple answers.

• Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.

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