Throughout his presidency, Donald Trump has exhibited an unprecedented hostility toward the media and the very concept of a free press as enshrined in the Constitution. He repeatedly refers to it in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people.” Trump is currently suing several news organizations and has recently threatened to revoke the broadcast licenses of stations that air ads critical of him. And in his flaming paranoia, he is convinced that the media is a collective entity that is unified in a covert mission to destroy him. “All I see,” whines Trump about every major news network (including Fox News), “is hatred of me.”
Trump’s press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, has never held a press briefing since her appointment in July of 2019. However, she makes frequent appearances on Fox News, but no other network. Trump has been deservedly criticized for his shuttering of the White House from scrutiny by the press. But he believes that his rambling “Chopper Talks“ suffice as an alternative to an orderly exchange of information and timely disclosures regarding White House activities. They are not. They are simply opportunities for Trump to rant incoherently and to berate his perceived foes in the press corps.
With the advent of an international pandemic, Trump is producing a daily, self-serving, reality show in which he is cast as the star attraction. It is a blatantly obvious attempt to exploit the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis for his own political benefit. These are nothing more than replacement vehicles for the cult rallies and campaign affairs that can no longer be held due to the risk of exacerbating the pandemic.
Not surprisingly, the press has been critical of this crass exploitation and many journalists are advocating that they not be covered, at least until after Trump’s remarks have been fact-checked and other extraneous campaign content is edited out. This has now caused Fox News to claim that there is some hypocrisy on the part of the press for first complaining about the administration’s abandonment of daily briefings, and now complaining that they are taking place. An op-ed on Fox’s website misconstrues that:
“The mainstream media were clamoring for regular press briefings from President Trump and his administration long before the coronavirus crisis escalated. Former press secretary Sarah Sanders stopped the daily routine in early 2019 and they eventually came to a halt altogether — much to the chagrin of many media members.
“But after Trump and his coronavirus team, including Vice President Mike Pence, Dr. Anthony Fauci, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams and Dr. Deborah Birx, began providing them on a daily basis in late February, some media figures said their networks should stop airing them, leading critics to question the sudden about-face.”
What Fox News is missing is that the press was never “clamoring” for staged events where Trump would lambaste the media, brag shamelessly about things he hadn’t done, and lie his asinine head off for two hours. They merely wanted his press secretary to do her job and be accountable to the public that the press represents.
What Trump is giving them instead is an interminable bitchfest that is intended solely to advance his reelection prospects and feed his voracious ego. This is particularly offensive considering the briefings that Trump is hijacking for his own purposes is supposed to be dedicated to informing the public about a deadly and growing pandemic.
If Trump had any real concern for the nation he would leave these Coronavirus Task Force briefings to the experts and stop wasting time with his lies and petulant attacks on reporters. Then he would reinstate the daily White House press briefings with the press secretary. It’s questionable that even under those circumstances we would get much useful or honest information considering how integral lying is to this administration. But at least we would avoid the endless tantrums and dangerous disinformation that Trump is disseminating with things as they are.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.