Propaganda on full display at Trump's latest coronavirus task force briefing

CNN's Brian Stelter says President Donald Trump is attacking the media and focused on the past instead of fighting against Covid-19 in the present.

Posted: Apr 14, 2020 8:40 AM
Updated: Apr 14, 2020 8:40 AM

A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

Viewers of Monday's White House briefing on the coronavirus saw a president in meltdown mode, clearly rattled by the reporting of national news outlets.

President Trump acted like he is at war with the media instead of Covid-19. His instability was on full display. He attempted to argue against The New York Times' damning examination of his delayed response to the virus. He threw up smokescreens and tried to point the finger back at the media. He tossed to an anti-media propaganda video, which was partly ripped off from Sean Hannity's show, and which caused CNN and MSNBC to cut away from the briefing.

"That was propaganda," John King said in no uncertain terms on CNN. "That was not just a campaign video. That was propaganda aired at taxpayer expense in the White House briefing room."

"I think this is one of the astonishing acts of disinformation we've seen from a White House since the Vietnam era and the 5 o'clock follies of the Lyndon Johnson administration," guest Howell Raines said on MSNBC.

Look, the video was nothing short of disgraceful. But it did do us a service — by showing us where Trump's head is at. He is fixated on the past — and by the news media's scrutiny of the federal government's failures to protect the public. He should be talking about the present and about the future pathways out of this emergency. His aides and allies should be helping him get back on track, rather than celebrating his reckless attacks against reporters. Cue Laura Ingraham on Fox Monday night: ‪"I thoroughly enjoyed today's Coronavirus task force briefing. That was great. It was a tour de force!"

Credible news orgs have taken the virus seriously for months

Oliver Darcy emails: Trump flatly lied when he asserted at the briefing that mainstream news organizations didn't take the coronavirus seriously early on. It's just not true. The virus was prominently featured on the front pages of major newspapers like NYT and WaPo during the impeachment trial in January. And CNN extensively covered it in January and February. CNN has posted a long list of examples here...

My two cents

Trump wants to play small ball -- he wants to fight with the media -- because those fights work for him. Let's keep the focus on the questions he is not answering. Where are the tests? Where are the plans? Where is the empathy for the thousands of families mourning the losses of loved ones?

CNN's chyrons call out Trump in black and white

Oliver Darcy writes: Those who watched CNN during the WH briefing saw the network bluntly call Trump out. One CNN chyron declared, "ANGRY TRUMP TURNS BRIEFING INTO PROPAGANDA SESSION." Another chyron said, "TRUMP USES TASK FORCE BRIEFING TO TRY AND REWRITE HISTORY ON CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE."

Meanwhile, on Fox, the chyrons told a starkly different story. Instead of fact-checking Trump, the network just repeated his falsehoods. One said, "TRUMP: I WAS 'BRUTALIZED' BY PRESS." Another said, "TRUMP: WE DID 'AN INCREDIBLE JOB.'" And a third blared, "TRUMP: PRESIDENT HAS 'TOTAL AUTHORITY.'"

Mediaite says the two networks were reporting "from alternate universes..."

Kudos to Reid and Collins

Oliver Darcy continues: The White House press corps went toe-to-toe with Trump and pressed him repeatedly on a range of topics. CBS correspondent Paula Reid was unyielding as she asked Trump a series of sharp Q's. Reid asked Trump what his administration did in the month of February, leading up to the crisis. And she asked how Americans could be comforted by his unhinged behavior. Trump didn't directly answer, resorting only to attacking Reid and her network.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins also grilled Trump: "You said when someone is President of the United States, their authority is total," Collins told Trump. "That is not true. Who told you that?" Collins didn't get a clear answer, and when she tried to continue her line of questioning, Trump held up his hand and told her, "Enough." Kudos to both Reid and Collins for being unflinching in their questioning of POTUS...

In an alternate universe...

Oliver Darcy adds: I know this has become a cliché thought experiment, but please oblige me: Can you imagine how the hosts and pundits on Fox News and in the greater conservative media landscape would have reacted if President Obama walked out into the White House briefing room and declared that his "authority is total"? It's really, quite honestly, a bit hard to fathom how frantic the coverage would have been. It would have been apocalyptic. Off the rails. Crazed. But with Trump? None of that...

What Trump is hearing from Hannity

Many right-wing media celebrities are groaning about the stay-at-home orders and urging a return to normalcy ASAP -- even though public health experts are warning about dire consequences if the restrictions are prematurely relaxed.

With that in mind, here's what Trump's trusted adviser Sean Hannity said to Texas governor Greg Abbott on Monday night: "I think most states can reopen even sooner than later -- we don't have to wait til May 1 -- but it's going to be more challenging in a city like New York..."

-- Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC an hour later: "Every word that the president says about reopening the country is pure posturing, it is pure propaganda..."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 48626

Reported Deaths: 2717
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11723689
Lake5212244
Elkhart332051
Allen2815132
St. Joseph198168
Cass16399
Hamilton1596101
Hendricks1414100
Johnson1288117
Porter73637
Tippecanoe7279
Madison66364
Clark66044
Bartholomew58944
Howard58057
LaPorte57926
Vanderburgh5706
Kosciusko5564
Marshall4926
Noble48428
Jackson4723
LaGrange4719
Delaware45050
Boone44943
Hancock44935
Shelby43025
Floyd38244
Morgan32931
Monroe30128
Montgomery29720
Grant29526
Clinton2892
Dubois2836
Henry28016
White26510
Decatur25532
Lawrence24625
Vigo2368
Dearborn23323
Warrick22129
Harrison21622
Greene19032
Miami1842
Jennings17612
Putnam1708
DeKalb1634
Scott1628
Daviess14717
Wayne1426
Orange13523
Perry1359
Steuben1302
Franklin1268
Ripley1227
Jasper1212
Wabash1132
Carroll1102
Fayette1017
Newton9910
Whitley965
Starke933
Gibson872
Randolph804
Huntington782
Wells751
Jefferson722
Fulton711
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox640
Clay604
Rush583
Adams501
Owen491
Benton480
Sullivan451
Posey440
Spencer411
Blackford392
Brown391
Crawford320
Fountain322
Tipton311
Switzerland270
Martin230
Parke230
Ohio170
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 58904

Reported Deaths: 2970
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin10587431
Cuyahoga8048379
Hamilton6158204
Lucas2788303
Marion273439
Pickaway220141
Summit2175207
Montgomery213431
Mahoning1849238
Butler163747
Columbiana130660
Stark1133113
Lorain105167
Trumbull97473
Warren88124
Clark7729
Delaware58815
Fairfield58516
Tuscarawas56810
Belmont55422
Medina53632
Lake50819
Licking49612
Miami47231
Portage44959
Ashtabula43644
Wood43651
Clermont4226
Geauga40843
Wayne36352
Richland3475
Allen32341
Mercer2879
Greene2769
Darke25326
Erie24622
Holmes2393
Huron2232
Madison1999
Ottawa15024
Sandusky13714
Crawford1365
Washington13520
Ross1303
Putnam12915
Coshocton1272
Hardin12312
Morrow1171
Auglaize1074
Jefferson912
Monroe8917
Union891
Muskingum861
Hancock791
Hocking788
Preble781
Guernsey743
Lawrence720
Williams722
Shelby694
Clinton680
Logan641
Athens631
Fulton620
Ashland601
Carroll593
Wyandot595
Brown581
Knox521
Defiance513
Fayette460
Highland451
Scioto450
Champaign411
Van Wert380
Perry351
Seneca342
Henry300
Paulding260
Adams241
Jackson240
Pike240
Vinton222
Gallia181
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Noble110
Unassigned00
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