WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump has made contentious exchanges with reporters a feature of his daily coronavirus briefings, often using personal invective to bulldoze past questions about shortfalls with masks, ventilators and testing and his own past statements.
But he has shown an altogether different response to one lesser-known media outlet that he has turned to repeatedly as a safety net, frequently citing them by name:
At one recent briefing, Trump called on the outlet twice and elicited two versions of the same question -- or statement.
"Mr. President, your approval ratings have been the highest they've ever been, as well as the ratings on your handling of the virus," Jenn Pellegrino, the OAN correspondent seated among the press, said Sunday. "Yet there are some networks that are saying they're debating whether or not to carry these briefings live. Do you think there's a link between the two?"
"Well, I don't know. I know that -- boy, that's a nice question," Trump said. "Thank you very much."
Minutes later, after he harshly criticized two other reporters who asked about his past comments by reading them aloud -- he blasted Yamiche Alcindor of PBS for a "nasty question" and urged her to "be nice," and then reprimanded Jeremy Diamond of CNN as producing "fake news" -- he called on Pellegrino a second time.
She largely rephrased the same question she had moments before.
"What do you say to these detractors?" she asked.
Trump responded with a 463-word soliloquy in which he singled out three news organizations (CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times) for criticism and insisted he wasn't interested in his television ratings, before noting that The New York Times had reported his ratings rivaled those of football games, and then portraying himself as a victim of media censorship.