From the Left



Would removing Trump's live coronavirus briefings make him worse?

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

More than 3,000 Americans had died in the coronavirus pandemic as of Tuesday, but President Donald Trump appeared to have his eyes glued to another set of numbers: his television audience ratings.

"Because the 'Ratings' of my News Conferences etc. are so high, 'Bachelor finale, Monday Night Football type numbers' according to the @nytimes, the Lamestream Media is going CRAZY," Trump tweeted.

He also quoted The New York Times story in three other tweets and a CBS News poll that found Republicans have far more faith in Trump than the news media.

(As if that was news. Media criticism has been a hallmark of conservatives at least since conservative Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater's disastrous campaign against President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Blaming the messenger for unpleasant news, regardless of party, goes back much further than that.)

But Trump's tweet conspicuously left out how some journalists and public health experts say that his ratings achievement could be a frivolous or dangerous -- take your pick -- thing.

Team Trump, you may recall, did away with daily press briefings last year because they called for a level of accountability with which this president would not put up.


But after the coronavirus pandemic took away the president's favorite medium, live rallies in front of his supporters, Trump discovered the value of daily virus updates.

Trouble is, he doesn't follow the valuable advice that my wife once gave me before speaking to a college graduation ceremony: "Remember, all of these people didn't come here just to hear you."

Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, the popular straight-talking immunologist on Trump's task force, knows that people are tuning in to get crucial information about the international crisis that we and our families need.

But the president has an unhelpful habit of putting himself in the middle of the story even at times like this. CNN, I noticed, cut away from the briefing Monday near its beginning when the president introduced Mike Lindell, CEO and popular TV ad face of MyPillow, who was followed by several other corporate execs.


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