August 10, 2022

Trump says he’ll restart his virus press briefings and immediately insults two female reporters

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Forget the pandemic with its unprecedented death toll, massive unemployment, food insecurity, and societal disruption.


For Donald Trump, it’s always about the ratings and the adulation from the crowds.

In an interview published today in the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post — the Post that, unlike the Jeff Bezos-owned one in Washington, is less likely to challenge his veracity — Trump said that he will be bringing back his Pandemic Task Force coronavirus briefings soon because “everybody” enjoyed them.

“We set every record with those press conferences. Six million people all the time. You know we had tremendous numbers, literally, it was in [Fox News host] Bret Baier’s slot, and we did like 30 in a row,” Trump said.

“I heard, is this true? It was the highest-rated hour in cable television history. That’s what I heard. I don’t know if that’s true,” he said, adding plausible deniability to his hyperbolic claim.

The president went on to say that since he is now transitioning from crisis management to focusing on reopening the economy — since he apparently believes the crisis is handled — that the number of briefings would be scaled back to just one or two per week with his latest press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, presiding over some of those sessions, having apparently passed her audition after holding the first official White House press conference in over a year.

With the coronavirus pandemic preventing Trump from holding the raucous cattle-roundup of his supporters that his campaign rallies have been, the press briefings were the president’s main outlet for the unalloyed attention that his narcissism requires.

“I hope we’re going to be able to get the rallies back before the election,” Trump said. “I actually think it’s very important. I think that would be a big — a big disadvantage to me if we didn’t, if we couldn’t have the rallies back.

“People are wanting the rallies. They want to have them so badly. They were informative but they were fun.”

Linking both the rallies and the pandemic press conferences are the president’s desires to “get around the ‘fake news’,” which peskily insists on correcting his misinformation and pointing out his blatant lies.

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“So, which is more important, the rally or the press conferences?” Trump mused. “I think they both work. You know, they are very different, though, I suspect.”

After an increasingly deranged series of briefing appearances culminating in his infamous speculation on whether injections of disinfectant or ultraviolet-light could kill the COVID-19 virus in the body, Trump’s political advisors tried to tell him that major disasters may deliver great ratings but won’t necessarily help him win the election.

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The president managed to last one day after petulantly saying that the briefings were “not worth the time and effort,” before heading right back into the fray. He also continued to vent his frustrations, express his grudges, and attack his perceived enemies in his perpetual Twitter battleground and arranged events like Sunday’s town hall within the relatively friendly security blanket of Fox News to keep his unfiltered, if reality-free, messages in front of the public.

Still, the WWE-experienced president knows the value of a good fight to attract eyeballs in his direction, so despite his complaints about “hostile questions” from “the Lamestream Media,” he sees the briefings as a way to not just project his strength — as he apparently sees his bullying demeanor with the press conveying — but as a way to keep the audience from lapsing into somnambulism while tedious facts and figures about contagion curves and pandemic projections are recited.

“I was told that some people didn’t like the combative attitude so much. And I can a little bit understand that. But I would say from the standpoint of watching it and wanting to watch, that would be more interesting than having boring questions asked.

“And you know, at the same time, they shouldn’t be asking the same question every press conference just trying to get a rise, you know.”

Perhaps if Trump actually answered any of the questions that were asked instead of deflecting and laying blame elsewhere, reporters wouldn’t have to keep asking the same questions repeatedly. Just saying.

“A lot of people love when the press hits me, you know, when I go at it with the press — they like it,” Trump said.

The president even admitted that he liked the sparring with the press himself.

“Yeah, I do, I, I’m OK with it. I’d rather have a normal, you know, normal — a more normal situation, but I do. And they like it. Some people don’t like it. I have a feeling everybody likes it because, you know, it’s more exciting than sitting there falling asleep.”

So is sex, but not everybody would want to watch him do that, certainly.

Unsurprisingly, Trump singled out two female reporters who have been persistent questioners at his Pandemic Task Force briefings as his primary irritants, both from CBS News: Weijia Jiang and Paula Reid.

“Paula Reid, she’s sitting there and I say, ‘How angry. I mean, what’s the purpose?’ They’re not even tough questions, but you see the attitude of these people, it’s like incredible,” the president complained

“It wasn’t Donna Reed, I can tell you that,” Trump said, referring to the actress who played the perfect  compliant  domestic goddess in a 1950s TV show during his younger days.

“So you know, I enjoyed it,” Trump admitted.

“You know, we didn’t stop them. I mean, this is breaking, this, but we didn’t stop them. Because we’ll probably do maybe one a week, sometimes two depending on the news, but Kayleigh’s going to be able to do them,” Trump said.

“We’ll do them. We get a lot of people watching, and it’s the way that you get around fake news. In other words, I have a much bigger audience than anybody’s ever had.”

Forget the pandemic with its unprecedented death toll, massive unemployment, food insecurity, and societal disruption.

For Donald Trump, it’s always about the ratings and the adulation from the crowds.

Particularly at a time of crisis such as we now find ourselves in due to Trump’s floundering narcissism, we need a real president who can bring the country together with purpose and fortitude, not an insecure carnival barker whose actions are sending the entire nation into a downward spiral from which we may never recover.

Whatever you need to do to vote in November, do it and let’s rid the country of our second biggest pestilence. He never likes being bested so perhaps we should get #2ndBiggestPestilence trending.

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In the meantime, let’s give CBS News’ Paula Reid the last word here as she replies to the president’s characterization of her with a rare positive fact check.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.

Original reporting by Steven Nelson and Ebony Bowden at The New York Post.

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Vinnie Longobardo

is the Managing Editor of Washington Press and 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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