Trump picks fight with CNN’s Jim Acosta right after telling press to “be nice” to him

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Donald Trump began his daily press briefing today asking reporters to “let’s be nice” because it’s Good Friday.

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If being nice means ignoring the lies, misstatements, and mischaracterizations that the president uttered during the course of the briefing then the small group of assembled and properly socially-distanced journalists in the White House press room had a lot of ignoring to do today.

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Trump began the press conference by minimizing expectations for the total number of deaths that would result from the pandemic in this country, ignoring the obvious fact that whatever the final tally may amount to, it surely would have been much lower if he and his administration had not downplayed the seriousness of the threat in the crucial days when the first cases were reported on these shores.

Add your name to reject Trump & Republicans’ vile idea of sacrificing seniors’ lives to save the stock market!

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It’s likely that if indeed state governors are calling the White House with decreasing frequency, it is because they know it is a futile effort to request help from a president who has largely ceded responsibility to the states to meet their own needs, leading to a free-for-all competition amongst states that has resulted in driving up prices for crucial medical supplies as they try to outbid each other for scarce resources.

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As Vox’s Aaron Rupar’s timely posts excerpting the lowlights of today’s briefing demonstrate, there were many examples of times where reporters could have challenged the president on the premises that he blithely dispensed as fact, yet were far from the truth.

Trump continued to contradict the reports from medical professionals in the thick of the daily battle against COVID-19 of shortages of tests and personal protective equipment that reflect so poorly on his administration’s preparedness for the pandemic — a failure that he continues to blame on anyone but himself — while bragging about his reading skills like he was showing his report card to his parents.

 

In response to a question about why he would even imagine cutting off U.S. contributions to the World Health Organization in the middle of a global pandemic that laughs in the face of his vaunted border wall, Trump decided to resurrect, perhaps in honor of the upcoming Easter holiday, his vintage rant portraying America as the victim of unfair trade practices by other nations — ignoring the fact that these trade practices are all for the benefit of large multi-national corporations that maximize their profits by seeking the cheapest labor they can find anywhere in the world.

Despite the mounting death toll, Trump is still insistent on reopening the economy as soon as possible. The criteria he says that will be the ultimate arbiter of when it will be safe to do so, should strike fear in the hearts of every thinking American.

Trump’s lack of understanding of his own constitutional authority and his authoritarian leanings were clearly manifested in his answer to one reporter’s question about whether he has the ability to overrule the decisions made by state and local officials when it comes to rescinding mandatory stay at home orders for all but workers in industries deemed essential.

Still, despite the president’s request that reporters be nice to him in honor of the religious holiday today, he didn’t reciprocate in his reactions to the legitimate and pressing questions being asked.

Trump concluded his briefing today by rejecting the common perception that now that he is prevented from holding his mass campaign rallies these press briefings are his main way to bolster his reelection chances by promoting an overly optimistic and whitewashed version of his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Unfortunately, Trump seems more concerned about the death of the economy — and, subsequently, his main campaign marketing message — than about the health and safety of Americans whose lives would be threatened if he tries to end social distancing and shelter-in-place orders prematurely.

On this Good Friday, Trump revealed that he would be spending Easter in the White House watching the televised services of evangelical Pastor Robert Jeffress. It will be worth keeping an eye on Trump’s Twitter feed during the hour that those services are being held to see if the president will be actually praying at that time or multi-tasking with the partisan political posts that typically make up the bulk of his posts.

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One way or another America will be resurrected. When that will be and what it will look like will largely depend on how much America lets Trump get away with in the meantime.

Instead of being “nice” to Trump, journalists need to continue to hold his feet to the fire and force accountability on the person with whom traditionally the buck stops and to point out his dissembling when he shirks his responsibilities.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.

Original reporting by Aaron Rupar at Vox and Daniel Dale at CNN.

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Vinnie Longobardo

Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile, & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.

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