GLOVES OFF: America’s Future Depends on Brutally Honest Media Coverage of Trump’s Failures

The anxiety of the American people continues to grow as they witness more and more of their fellow citizens becoming ill and dying from COVID-19 (coronavirus). Medical experts are not predicting a peak until at least late April or early May. In the meantime, our families, friends, and neighbors can be seen suiting up in masks and gloves before daring to venture outside.

Donald Trump

However, it is now time for journalists to take the metaphorical gloves off. Historically there has been a protocol for the conduct of reporters who cover the president of the United States. They have generally complied with the rule that respect must be shown to the office, if not its current occupant.

Consequently, reporters are accustomed to behaving with a certain meekness when addressing the President. They ask their questions with deference and patiently await a reply. They resist any impulse to interrupt or correct the President if he wanders off topic or supplies a false answer. They lean toward overextending courtesy in order to avoid being seen as rude.

Unfortunately, Donald Trump requires a total rewriting of how the press interacts with the President. His innate paranoia and hostility toward the media that he repeatedly slanders in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people” poses unique challenges for covering him. For example, Trump often won’t allow a reporter to complete a question when he senses that it will be difficult for him to answer. And since it is the reporter’s job to be probing and even provocative, that happens with some frequency. The result is that Trump’s response often fails to address what the reporter was asking. And the reporter isn’t given an opportunity to complete the actual question or to ask a follow up.

This is a tactic that Trump uses to avoid scrutiny of his words, actions, and intentions. It is a bully’s tactic that relies on the victim being too submissive to object. And that is where the conduct of the press needs the most work. Without a more aggressive posture, Trump will simply roll over the press and escape any real accountability. This can be observed daily at the Coronavirus Task Force briefings that Trump has hijacked and is selfishly exploiting as de facto campaign events.

There is no compelling reason for Trump to attend these briefings since he has no relevant knowledge or experience to contribute. He upstages the doctors and scientists whose information is actually useful. Trump’s presence merely allows him to lie with abandon, brag about things he hasn’t done, and insult the press corps and his political foes. He even tracks the ratings of these briefings and vainly attributes any increase in viewership to himself. Which is preposterous since there are at least as many Trump opponents tuning in as supporters.

It’s time for the press to start fighting back. They need to insist that they be allowed to ask questions without being cut off. They need to demand that Trump give answers that are responsive to the question. If necessary, they need to interrupt his incoherent filibusters to drag him back to the topic of the question. And they need to confront him when he tells another obvious, provable lie. He may get away with that when he’s “interviewed” on Fox News (the only cable news network he isn’t afraid to appear on), but that should not be the standard anywhere else.

The press needs to make these adjustments, not for any partisan objective or to disparage the President. They need to do it because at this critical time in our nation’s history people’s lives are dependent on getting credible information and holding the powerful to account. Trump’s ego, belligerence, and pathological lying cannot be allowed to divert the media from its traditional role to shine a light on the darkness of self-serving and/or corrupt politicians. They must meet Trump’s rancor with renewed determination and devotion to the public that relies on them. In the language of the TV reality world that Trump ought to understand: “It’s time to stop being polite and start getting real!”

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Messiah Trump Takes Credit For Saving the World: ‘Nobody Thought We Should Do It Except Me’

Donald Trump is fond of portraying himself as a pillar of strength who is unafraid to confront any obstacle or foe. However, his routine behavior exposes that facade as an obvious fraud. His knee-jerk defensiveness when challenged, along with his infantile insults aimed at critics, are ready evidence of his smoldering fear of being revealed as an impotent bully.

Donald Trump Messiah

One of the best indicators of Trump’s withering weakness is how tightly he clings to the bootlicking sycophants at his State TV network, Fox News. On Monday morning he made his 77th appearance on Fox News as president. But he has not permitted a single interview on CNN or MSNBC. What, you might ask, is he afraid of? This latest visit was a phone in to Fox and Friends, a program that he used to have a regular Monday gig on: Mondays with Trump. And, not surprisingly, the discussion was a full-on Trump-fluffing festival of fawning and flattery (Twitter video thread below).

Trump led off by falsely accusing the Obama administration of leaving him with an “empty shelf” of medical supplies. He compared it to the equally false and absurd assertion that the Pentagon had no ammunition when he took office. This is just Trump’s way of vilifying Obama, a president he knows he can never measure up to. He did the same thing this morning to another of his perceived enemies, Nancy Pelosi, about whom he said “She’s a sick puppy in my opinion. She really is. She’s got a lot of problems.” He called her San Francisco district a slum and bizarrely said that she “lost” the impeachment game. Does he not know that he was – and is – impeached?

What’s more, Trump took personal credit for saving the world. In a self-exalting rant based on nothing but his fertile imagination, Trump claimed that he stopped “thousands” of very, very sick people coming in from China, and that…

“…nobody thought we should do it except me. And I stopped everybody. We stopped it cold. It had never been done before. […] and if I hadn’t done that you have seen deaths like you had never seen before.”

So Trump wants people to believe that he defied the foolhardy dopes who consider themselves experts, and who all disagreed with him, and he single-handedly implemented a policy that saved untold souls. This is the sort of deranged thinking that can only come from someone who previously called himself the Chosen One.”

The truth is that Trump not only failed to save lives, he is unarguably responsible for the loss of thousands of Americans due to his negligence, incompetence, and ego. He was determined to underplay the threat presented by COVID-19 (the coronavirus) because he was afraid it would negatively impact his reelection prospects. He wasted at least a month lying to the public that there were few people infected and that the number would soon be zero.

In the interim Trump, who is no longer able to satisfy his voracious ego at his cult rallies, has hijacked the Coronavirus Task Force briefings and turned them into de facto campaign events. Never mind that his presence there is nothing but a distraction. He has no relevant knowledge or expertise to contribute, so he spends an hour or two lying with abandon and shamelessly boasting about things he hasn’t done.

Trump’s narcissism is evident in everything he does. And that is particularly true with regard to the briefings for which he has cast himself as the star. Which explains why he has been hyping the Nielsen ratings as if they were an indicator of his popularity. They are not. Both Trump supporters and opponents tune in to the briefings to get information. But in Trump’s diseased mind, any attention paid to him is proof of his glorious awesomeness. It’s what feeds his belief that he alone can fix everything. After all, he’s the Chosen One.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

WTF? While Americans Suffer, Trump Brags (and Lies) About TV ‘Ratings’

Well, it had to come to this. With more than 132,000 cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) confirmed in the United States, and 2,300 plus deaths, Donald Trump is showing us what really matters to him. He isn’t expressing condolences to those who have lost loved ones. He isn’t implementing a coherent strategy for combating the pandemic. He isn’t even adhering to the social distancing orders his own task force is recommending.

Donald Trump TV Set

Nope. What matters to Trump now – and always – is his ratings. Trump’s ego is voracious. Throughout this ordeal he has spent more time paying tribute to himself than he has executing a national plan. Whenever he does address things his administration is doing, he prefaces those remarks with superlatives that applaud his actions as “the biggest,” “the most,” and “the best ever.” He simply cannot describe any effort on his part without asserting that it broke some imaginary record for fabulousness.

On Sunday morning Trump went even further to essentially admit that he’s exploiting this pandemic as a means to get free airtime to promote himself and his 2020 reelection campaign. In a flurry of frantic tweets, Trump shamelessly boasted about the ratings for the televised Corona Task Force briefings. He began with a typical swipe at the media that he despises saying that “The Lamestream Media wants us to fail. That will NEVER happen!” And that “Polls are showing tremendous disapproval of Lamestream Media coverage of the Virus crisis. The Fake News just hasn’t figured that out yet!”

Trump’s assertion that the media (which he is now maligning as “lamestream” ala Sarah Palin) “wants us to fail” is not supported by reality. And Trump, as usual, doesn’t provide a single example to prove that reckless claim. Reporting accurately that Trump’s response is failing is not the same as wanting it to fail. As for polls on the public’s approval of coverage of the pandemic, they predominantly show that the majority of Americans don’t trust Trump on the subject of the virus. Even worse for Trump’s fragile ego, Americans trust the media more than they trust Trump. And then there was this:

Notice that Trump refers to the ratings of “my news conferences.” That is not what these briefings are supposed to be, They are supposed to be opportunities to keep the public informed and have questions answered by experts. They should be used to educate the public honestly about current circumstances, and to disclose what the government is doing to keep them safe. But Trump has never been a source of reliable, truthful information. As an example there’s the quote in this tweet from an unnamed “lunatic” whose existence is doubtful. That’s particularly ironic since just yesterday Trump was mightily perturbed about the use of unnamed sources.

However, Trump had only just begun saluting his ratings prowess. Not satisfied with his earlier accolades to himself, Trump unleashed a four-tweet rant quoting an article in the New York Times. Or should I say misquoting? The first tweet stated that…

“President Trump is a ratings hit. Since reviving the daily White House briefing Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news, roughly the viewership of the season finale of ‘The Bachelor.’ Numbers are continuing to rise…”

However, here is what the article actually said with the parts Trump excised in bold:

“President Trump is a ratings hit, and some journalists and public health experts say that could be a dangerous thing.

“Since reviving the daily White House briefing — a practice abandoned last year by an administration that bristles at outside scrutiny — Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news, roughly the viewership of the season finale of ‘The Bachelor.'”

So Trump left out crucial information, but still put his edits in quotation marks. That is both dishonest and unethical. It should also be noted that viewers who both support and (mostly) oppose Trump watch these briefings. So the ratings are not an indication of Trump’s popularity. What’s more, they air on multiple networks simultaneously and, therefore, are not comparable to any single network program rating such as The Bachelor. Moving on to the second tweet

“…On Monday, nearly 12.2 million people watched Mr. Trump’s briefing on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, according to Nielsen — ‘Monday Night Football’ numbers. Millions more are watching on ABC, CBS, NBC and online streaming sites, and the audience is expanding. On Monday, Fox News…”

And now for the actual quote from the article with relevant edits in bold:

“Millions more are watching on ABC, CBS, NBC and online streaming sites. […] And the audience is expanding even as Mr. Trump has repeatedly delivered information that doctors and public health officials have called ill informed, misleading or downright wrong.

Most Americans would probably be interested in the fact that Trump is regarded as ill informed by doctors and public health officials. But Trump decided that they shouldn’t know that. Then, in the third tweet Trump said that Fox News…

“…alone attracted 6.2 million viewers for the president’s briefing — an astounding number for a 6 p.m. cable broadcast, more akin to the viewership for a popular prime-time sitcom…”

Really? Does Trump really want to associate his pandemic briefings with sitcoms? In the fourth tweet Trump said that…

“…The CBS News poll said 13 percent of Republicans trusted the news media for information about the virus. Michael M. Grynbaum @NYTimes”

Now don’t be surprised, but Trump left out pertinent information about this as well:

“The CBS News poll said 13 percent of Republicans trusted the news media for information about the virus, versus 72 percent of Democrats.”

What this tells is something we already know if we’ve been paying attention. Donald Trump is an egocentric, malignant narcissist who will lie about all things great and small in order to exalt himself. And he couldn’t care less about the suffering of the people, about whom he rarely expresses any sympathy or condolences. In this Sunday tweetstorm Trump has proved that he is only interested in his ratings. And that, sadly, explains why he has failed so tragically to protect the nation from a pandemic that could have been averted.

UPDATE: A reporter from the ultra-right OANN asked Trump about speculation that networks would cease coverage of these briefings and if his ratings were connected to that. After complimenting the question, Trump replied that “I don’t want high approval ratings from this.” Yeah, right. So what were these tweets all about?

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Dear Leader Trump Proposes ‘Forcing’ the Press to Reveal Sources

Apparently Donald Trump isn’t satisfied with having utterly bungled the nation’s response the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Now he is moving on to advocate breaching the Constitution’s First Amendment right to a free press. That’s the same press that Trump routinely refers to in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people.”

Donald Trump, Constitution

In his regularly scheduled Saturday Morning Tweetstorm, Trump was consumed by a fit of anxiety and animosity aimed at the media. It’s hard to know for certain what triggered this outburst, but it’s safe to say that it was probably something he saw on Fox News. The result was this Twitter tantrum that lashes out at some vague disturbance of Trump’s already unsettled psyche:

It’s typical of Trump to baselessly accuse the press of making up sources and stories. It’s equally typical that he never provides any documentation of his allegations, and he often doesn’t even cite the story he’s babbling about, as is the case this time. His charges are not simply venting. He specifically insists that the journalists (whom he declines to name) have deliberately invented fictional sources whose accounts are not merely untrue, they are “knowingly” non-existent. This is Trump’s way of defending himself from whatever criticism might happen to be floating around. It’s a defense that relies on the wispiest of innuendo because Trump can’t defend himself on substance.

It’s fair to say that whatever Trump is whining about is actually true. And since the facts would affirm that, he resorts to a blanket condemnation of the media in its entirety. He’s like a murderer setting an entire apartment building on fire to keep people from finding the body in #407.

It’s ironic that Trump is also complaining that the media is “dangerous and corrupt” and would “do anything to win.” That’s a darn good description of Trump himself. And anyone who has observed him for any length of time knows that projection is a key weapon in his arsenal of character assassination. But he wasn’t through bashing the press:

Trump’s problem with sources goes back many years. Never mind that unidentified sources are a valid staple of professional journalism. Trump’s White House communications staff even uses them regularly during “background briefings” where reporters are only permitted to attribute these official statements to “senior administration officials.” What’s more, as a private businessman Trump was known for acting as his own PR agent, using false names like “John Barron” to plant false stories in gossip columns to convince people that he was a rich playboy. And Trump is no stranger to exploiting the press for his own personal benefit, as he is doing by hijacking the Coronavirus Task Force briefings and turning them into Trump 2020 campaign events.

However, the worst part of this tweetfest was Trump’s suggestion that the media “should be forced to reveal sources.” That is a wholly unconstitutional abuse of power. The First Amendment clearly states the prohibition against “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” That includes any attempt by the government to dictate to journalists how to source their reporting. The ability of the press to gather information from people with inside knowledge is essential to a functioning democracy. And often those people need confidentiality in order to come forward without fear of reprisal. Especially while Trump is in the White House. He is already threatening to revoke the broadcast licenses of TV stations that air ads critical of him.

Furthermore, Trump’s claim that forced disclosure of sources was something that happened “in the long ago past” is downright delusional. Unless he’s talking about the past practices of the sort of tyrants and czars that he so admires (Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong Un, etc.). In which case, it’s no wonder that he yearns for the power to emulate his heroes. That is just so Trumpian. But it isn’t American. And any effort to go forward with what he’s proposing in these tweets needs to be fervently resisted by congress, the press, and all of the American people.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The Virus that Infects Donald Trump: ‘All I See is Hatred of Me’

One thing that has been clear about Donald Trump from the outset of his administration is that he has never exhibited the qualities demanded of the presidency. He lacks the intelligence, compassion, commitment, morality, and humility, that are the hallmarks of leadership. And he has never demonstrated that he has the ability to learn, take responsibility, or to bring the diverse community of Americans together.

Donald Trump, coronavirus

Trump is always about only Trump. He has brazenly profited from his position by funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to his own properties. And he has focused his political attention exclusively on advancing his own partisan interests. These are traits that psychiatric professionals have diagnosed as malignant narcissism, a combination of ego-centrism and sociopathy.

The risks of having someone with those mental issues in positions of power are readily apparent. They portend a tendency toward authoritarian behaviors that demand unflinching loyalty and reject competent advice. What’s worse is that when someone like Trump is under pressure, he will cease to behave rationally. His fears will incite ever more defensive and destructive responses to events he is unable to cope with or comprehend. Like a wounded animal, he becomes more desperate and vicious.

That appears to be the state of Trump’s mental decline now. And his Twitter feed is the best evidence of his psychic decay. Late Sunday night Trump tweeted this frightening call for help:

Let’s break that down, shall we? First of all, Trump is confessing that he compulsively consumes news on six television networks and two newspapers that he frequently disparages as “enemies of the people.”. How could he possibly have time to do that and his duties as president as well? Especially during a national emergency brought on by a deadly pandemic.

We already know that much of his time is spent tweeting (dozens of times a day), staging photo-ops with corporate CEOs and supporters, and leading daily press briefings. Never mind that he has no business even attending those briefings considering that he has no relevant knowledge or experience to contribute. To the contrary, he generally disgorges lies and misinformation that others on his staff have to clean up later. Even worse, he diverts the discussion into his petty grievances with reporters or devolves into shameless episodes of self-exaltation or making excuses for his failures. That is, when he isn’t blatantly exploiting the crisis to boost his reelection prospects.

However, the most unambiguous sign of a severe mental breakdown is Trump’s assertion that “all I see is hatred of me.” Really? That’s ALL he sees? He doesn’t see any of the presentations of facts about the crisis in the U.S. and internationally? He doesn’t see any of the medical professionals offering their expertise to educate the public on how to stay safe? He doesn’t see any of the human interest stories and testimony from real people going through the hardships of surviving in these trying times? He doesn’t see the crushing anguish of victims or the inspirational acts of heroes or any of the human stories that define us as a people? He sees only what he perceives as hatred directed solely at him.

The fact that Trump is blind to all of these non-political, educational, uplifting, and heart-wrenching stories, says something unmistakable about him. Even worse, the only things he does see are his paranoid perceptions of the universal hostility that consumes his diseased mind. What sort of person unleashes public declarations that everyone hates him? And what does it say that he lashes out with vengeful visions of his perceived enemies “destroying themselves”? Is this the behavior of a psychologically stable leader? Is it even remotely sane? And how long can America endure the madness of a man who also tweeted this all-caps rant:

Trump is now implying that he would terminate the “social distancing” recommendations by health experts after a totally inadequate 15 day period, simply because he regards the economic impact to be worse than the pandemic itself. Unsurprisingly, Trump contracted this preposterous notion from Fox News. Now he’s putting money before the lives of thousands of Americans. And he’s only doing that because the financial downturn will negatively affect his reelection hopes. If it wasn’t clear before, it most certainly is now: Trump is suffering from a sickness that threatens every American. And if we don’t take the opportunity in November to socially distance ourselves from him and the Republicans he’s infected, we can all expect to be victims of the Trump Virus.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

While America Hunkers Down, Trump Exploits the Crisis to Campaign for Reelection

Remember back in the olden times when there were Democratic primaries that dominated the news? There was a “Super” Tuesday and people were anxiously and excitedly exercising their civic duties to vote for the candidates of their choice. That all seems like so long ago. And now they are anxious for a completely different reason.

Donald Trump Virus

The remaining candidates in the Democratic presidential race – Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders – have purposefully put the brakes on their official campaign activities. That’s the responsible thing to do when a global pandemic has erupted and is spreading rapidly throughout the nation and the world. However, while the Democrats are acting responsibly, Donald Trump has chosen to behave in a manner that is consistent with his narcissistic psychoses. Even while the entire country is focusing on how to survive during these challenging times, Trump is focusing on himself and his own best political interests.

Let’s face it, Trump’s presence is utterly irrelevant at the daily Coronavirus Task Force briefings. He has no useful knowledge or experience to offer. To the contrary, he most often unleashes blatantly false “information” that his own advisers have to later refute. He wastes valuable time either attacking legitimate journalists who are asking pertinent question, or embracing propagandists whose questions are nothing more than overt suck ups. Much of his comments are simply boasting about what he asserts are unprecedented accomplishments and victories that exist only in his self-serving imagination. And he insists on presenting an absurdly rosy scenario that ignores reality and dangerously understates the risk we all face. It’s one thing to offer hope, but another to deliberately mislead.

There is only one reason that Trump is showing up at these briefings, and that is to advance his reelection prospects. He has turned what should be a vital information channel into a crass campaign PR affair. That’s why he avoids any discussion of the hardships that the American people are enduring. and it’s why he so brazenly exalts himself and his phony achievements. These are nothing but extended political ads for Trump. They are also Trump’s replacement for the cult rallies that he can no longer have.

In addition to Trump’s cynical commandeering of the press briefings, he has likewise devoted his Twitter account to his reelection effort. In the past week Trump has tweeted hundreds of times. The vast majority of those have been retweets of two varieties: Fox News bootlickers lavishing undue praise on him. And messages from his Republican Senate comrades (more than 50 in three days). It is impossible to miss the fact that Trump incessantly retweets only GOP members of Congress bragging about legislation to address the health – physically and financially – of the American people. It’s as if there aren’t any Democrats working on these bills, despite the fact that they authored most of them.

The lengths that Trump is going to to make Democrats invisible is further evidence of his politicization of this crisis. He will need a Republican majority in congress if (gawd forbid) he is reelected in November. So these retweets are another thinly veiled campaign tactic on Trump’s part. Virtually every reference to Democrats on his Twitter feed is negative. That is not how a conscientious leader would work to bring the nation together in turbulent times.

The bottom line is that Trump isn’t interest in bringing people together. He’s only interested in extending his power and disparaging his perceived enemies. He may think he’s clever by trying to disguise his political ambitions in staged press briefings and innocuous tweets, but the only people he’s fooling are his glassy-eyed cult disciples and – unfortunately – some members of the press.

If the media were living up to the principles that govern a free press, they would cease to cover his briefings live. There would be nothing lost by taping the events and spending a few minutes fact-checking before putting them on the air. But it would prevent more disinformation from being disseminated to the public. And it would stop Trump from unscrupulously hijacking otherwise vital communications to get free ad time.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

And then there’s this…..

Trump ‘Loves’ Him Some Whiffleball Questions From Radical Right-Wing ‘Reporter’

Another day, another White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing. These daily events serve no purpose other than to provide Trump with a forum to repeat his lies and disinform the public. And there is no plausible reason for him to be there except to satisfy his craving for ego-strokes now that he can no longer hold his traveling cult rallies.

Donald Trump

Saturday’s briefing was just a rehash of previous episodes where Trump leads a chorus of hallelujahs by sycophants paying tribute to his heroic awesomeness. In the course of his remarks Trump describes every alleged achievement as a never before seen breakthrough in human endeavors. Suffice to say that none of his barely coherent ramblings provide useful, factual information. The entirety of his presentation is an exercise in glassy-eyed happy-talk that painstakingly avoids the unsettling realities that the American people know all too well. After listening to Trump one might think that there was no pandemic crisis going on at all. Everything is fine and getting better.

In order to promulgate that deceit, Trump made a point of calling on Jenn Pellegrino, a “reporter” from the far-right, conspiracy factory, One America News Network (OANN). Her question, and Trump’s response, did nothing to advance the public’s well-being. physically or mentally. But it give Trump another opportunity to attack his perennial foes in the media (video below):

Pellegrino: This morning the Washington Post ran a story suggesting that you delayed taking action on the virus in January and February. Dr. Fauci has indicated that your action in the Chinese travel ban helped America immensely. What do you say to the Washington Post?
Trump: I love whoever you’re with. Cuz I think that’s such a nice question. I think the Washington Post covers us very inaccurately, covers me very inaccurately. I saw the story. I think it’s a disgrace. But it’s the Washington Post and I guess we have to live with it.

The story that they are obliquely referencing is one wherein the Post revealed that U.S. intelligence had warned him as early as January about the coronavirus and it’s potential risks, but that he disregarded the warnings. The Post reported that even though Trump’s advisers told him that “the system was blinking red […] they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it.”

So without putting the question into context, Trump complimented the Trump-fluffing reporter and her flagrantly biased network. Then went on to insult the Post without ever citing anything in their story that was inaccurate. Trump later noted that China had ejected the Post from the country, which he seems to think bolsters his position. Is that because he thinks China is so well regarded as a beacon of press freedom? And let’s not forget that Trump ejected the Post from the White House and other government offices.

Trump’s response to this question is especially notable considering how different it was from his response to a question he received the day before. Peter Alexander of NBC asked Trump “What do you say to Americans who are watching right now who are scared?” Whereupon, Trump jumped on him like a rabid jackal, calling Alexander a “terrible reporter” and the question “nasty.” But Pellegrino’s question asking “What do you say to the Washington Post,” drew Trump’s “love” for “such a nice question.”

The lesson here is that reporters are safer asking Trump what he has to say to news organizations that everyone knows he hates, than they are asking what he has to say to the American people. That’s because he cares more about attacking those who dare to tell the truth about him, than he does about the citizens of this country, a majority of whom voted against him. And it’s his indifference – and even hostility – to the people he is supposed to be serving, that has resulted in the disastrous way he has bungled the nation’s response to the worst pandemic in generations.

Trump Lashes Out at Reporter Who Made the Mistake of Telling Him the Truth

The media has an abysmal record for the way it has covered Donald Trump. From the very beginning of his campaign in 2015, to the present, the press has given Trump far too much latitude to lie and paid way too much attention to his reality show style hype. They really need to remember that their obligation is to the public, and to keeping them informed. Their mission is to present the truth, not an artificial facade of balance. Reporters are not stenographers.

Donald Trump

Trump is a confirmed self-promoter and a pathological liar. His words cannot be relied upon for anything other than evidence of his mammoth ego and infantile obsession with maligning those he regards as enemies. And considering his severe paranoia, there almost everyone is an enemy. Even under ordinary circumstances, these traits would require special treatment by the press to unravel the intentions of such a person in a position of power. But these are not normal times. The presence of a viral pandemic that is putting the lives of millions at risk makes these times unique and perilous.

On Friday morning Trump provided an outstanding example of what makes him such a difficult character to cover. It occurred at the daily press briefing from the White House. Trump actually should not even be attending these briefings. Presumably he would have more important work to do during this crisis, which is why he assigned his Vice-President, Mike Pence, to head the Coronavirus Task Force. But Trump has been showing up every day because it has replaced the ego-stroking cult rallies that he can’t hold anymore due to the risk of them becoming breeding grounds for the virus.

During the briefing, NBC reporter Peter Alexander was called on to ask a question. It all started off fairly mild, but Trump quickly changed his tone into one of reflexive defensiveness and overt hostility. Alexander began by asking Trump if it was possible that his “impulse to put a positive spin on things might be giving Americans a false sense of hope?” That led to this exchange:

Alexander: What do you say to American who are scared though? Nearly 200 dead. 14,000 who are sick. Millions, as you witnessed, who are scared right now. What do you say to Americans who are watching right now who are scared?
Trump: I say that you are a terrible reporter. That is what I say. I think that’s a nasty question. And I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the America people.

Seriously? What Trump has to say to scared Americans is that Alexander is bad reporter? That should make the nation feel better (see Alexander’s response below). Ironically, Trump inadvertently confirmed the premise of Alexander’s questions: that Trump is fixated on blanketing the media with his phony rosy scenarios. As a consequence of his tunnel-blindness, Trump simply cannot abide any discussion of the real-world hardships that the American people are enduring. That’s why he lashed out at Alexander’s reference to sicknesses and fatalities. And he rejected the opportunity to send a message of hope to worried citizens.

Trump cultists are fond of disparaging progressives as “snowflakes.” But what is more representative of that label than Trump’s pitiful inability to deal with the facts about the coronavirus crisis, and the reality that people are fearful for themselves and their families? Trump is only concerned about himself and his public image. And the only reason he wants to see this matter resolved is so that it doesn’t affect his prospects for reelection. Consequently, Trump is really the one who has something realistic to fear. And the sort of childish behavior he exhibited at this briefing will only make it more likely that his fears will come true. That’s the good news.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

It’s Time to Quarantine Trump From the Coronavirus Briefings

What’s a malignant narcissist to do when his primary source of personal gratification is deemed too perilous to continue. That’s the dilemma that Donald Trump is facing as the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis puts an end to the cult rallies that feed his ravenous ego.

Donald Trump TV Set

For many weeks Trump denied the obvious signs that the coronavirus was spreading and endangering people’s lives. So he continued to appear at the rallies that may have served as a breeding ground for more infections. But that’s no longer possible as state and federal guidelines are uniformly advising that people refrain from gathering in groups of more than ten. In many cases such gatherings are expressly prohibited. And since his travel has been curtailed, he hasn’t been able to hold court at his “Chopper Talk” sessions on the White House lawn either.

Consequently, the craving for adulation that consumes Trump was going unsatisfied until he decided to show up at the daily press briefings held by his Coronavirus Task Force. There he found himself the center of attention again as he disgorged his hallmark brand of self-exaltation and rancid invective. But his presence there is less than useless, it’s distracting and even destructive.

Trump’s tendency to express everything in frenetic hyperbole was evident in this morning’s press briefing. He spent an inordinate amount of time praising himself for his “tremendous” response to the current crisis, for the best economy ever, and other assorted imaginary achievements. He repeatedly – and falsely – claimed that no one ever thought that this virus could become so harmful, and that “There’s never been anything like this in history. Nobody has ever seen anything like this before.” (Note: whenever Trump says no one has seen/heard something, he means that he hasn’t). He said that, due to the virus, he views himself as a “wartime president,” apparently having forgotten that the U.S. has had troops deployed in three wars (Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria) throughout his presidency.

Trump lashed out at his usual foes, particularly the media. He bashed the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, as dishonest. And in the same breath he claimed that “I know the the truth. And people out there in the world, they really don’t know the truth. They don’t know what it is.” This is his way of advancing the code of the cult: Only the cult leader tells the truth. Everyone else is lying or stupid. However, the people out there in the world seem better able to discern the truth than Trump would like. A recent poll shows that a broad majority of 60% don’t trust what Trump says about COVID-19.

When he manages to stay on topic, Trump’s coronavirus remarks focus predominantly on unrealistic, rosy scenarios and happy-talk wherein there has been nothing but incredible progress being made. That is not only false, it’s dangerous. It seduces people into a false state of security, believing that they don’t really have to alter their behavior or heed public warnings. What’s more, his presence produces more political rhetoric as he tries to twist every question into something he can exploit for partisan benefit.

Worst of all, Trump lies with abandon. He has told reporters at these briefings that millions of virus tests would be available by now (they aren’t), and that anyone who wants a test can get one (they can’t). He said that vaccines and treatments that will take more than a year to produce, would be available shortly. He invents partnerships with private entities that are later disclaimed. And he interjects vile bigotry such as his now frequent references to the “Chinese virus.”

Trump really needs to be quarantined from appearing at these briefings. He has nothing productive to contribute because he is so pitifully ignorant about the issues at hand. Of course, he regards himself as an expert on everything, so he ends up rambling incoherently about medicine, epidemiology, economics, sociology, and whatever else pops into his shrunken head.

The American people are justifiably worried about their welfare and that of their families and nation. Trump needs to appreciate this and suppress his ego for a while. Just leave these briefings to the experts so that we can all focus on getting through this. He can stay in his bedroom and watch more Fox News.

Unfortunately, that may be too much to ask of Trump. He is too mentally dependent on the attention he steals to think about the needs of anyone else. And that same lack of empathy prevents him from doing what’s necessary to lead the nation to the conclusion of this crisis. Hopefully, saner heads will prevail and take charge. if not, it’s gonna be long pandemic.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Here’s a portion of Trump’s aimless rambling at today’s press briefing.

The Most Flagrantly Dishonest and Idiotic Trump Tweet of 2020 (So Far)

In recent days Donald Trump has shifted his tone on the COVID-19 (coronavirus) to one that appears more appropriately concerned about the threat that it poses to Americans and the world. But while he seems to be reluctantly recognizing the risks going forward, he is still fixated on assigning blame to others and paying undeserved tribute to himself.

Donald Trump, Toilet, Bathrobe

When asked how he would rate his response to the coronavirus crisis, Trump inconceivably gave himself a “10.” Sure, if that’s out of 100. He also claimed, in an epic feat of gaslighting, and after downplaying the matter for weeks, that “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic” (see video below that documents his lies). But for sheer stupidity and/or rabid dishonesty, Trump has still not surpassed this tweet from February 24:

In that one Twantrum, Trump managed to get two very consequential things horribly wrong. First of all, as noted above, the coronavirus was very much NOT under control. On February 24, there were only 42 confirmed cases and zero fatalities in the U.S. That has now risen to more than 7,300 infected people and 135 deaths. If that’s what Trump considers “control” we are all gonna die.

Trump’s management of this crisis has been an unqualified disaster. He ignored the peril for far too long. He disbanded the pandemic office at the National Security Agency. He refused to use the test kits provided by the World Health Organization. He relied more on his Fox News sycophants than on scientists. He trivialized the matter as a political “hoax” that he imagined was perpetrated by Democrats. And he sought to blame previous administrations (translation: Obama) for burdening him with an archaic and inefficient system. The truth is that he gutted the system himself and did nothing to restore it.

As for his investment advice, it’s hard to image that it could have been worse. The stock market that was “starting to look very good” to Trump on February 24, has dropped more than 7,000 points (30%) since then. And that was after the Federal Reserve gave Trump the ill-advised interest rate cut he lusted after. All of the gains for the past three years – the whole of Trump’s presidency – have been wiped out. Anyone who acted on Trump’s analysis has lost a fortune. But then, it’s hard to sympathize with anyone who would take financial advice from a trust fund baby with six bankruptcies, a long list of defunct companies, a failed, phony “university,” and a charitable foundation that was found to be fraudulent?

There is, however, a bit of relatively good news. The American people aren’t buying Trump’s BS. A recent poll found that only 37% trust what he says about the coronavirus. That’s the predictable result of having lied more than 16,000 times since he was inaugurated.

Unfortunately, that’s a dangerous position for a nation to be in when it faces the sort of hardships that the U.S. faces today. Under the circumstance, we should have someone at the helm that isn’t a malignant narcissistic and a pathological liar. And with any luck (and a lot of hard work) we will have new, respectable leadership by next January. That is, if Trump hasn’t killed us all before then.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.