A new generation of White House reporters hold Trump accountable

CNN's Dana Bash says President Donald Trump treats female reporters differently than he treats male reporters. Trump lashed out at Weijia Jiang of CBS News during a tense exchange at the daily coronavirus task force briefing.

Posted: Apr 20, 2020 10:50 PM
Updated: Apr 20, 2020 10:50 PM

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

Many of the most revealing exchanges at recent W.H. briefings have been prompted by a new generation of correspondents. They're not taking President Trump's not-my-fault routine for an answer. They're pressing, following up and fact-checking in real time.

By now you probably recognize their names: Weijia Jiang and Paula Reid of CBS. Kaitlan Collins and Jeremy Diamond of CNN. Yamiche Alcindor of PBS. Kristin Fisher of Fox News. Francesca Chambers of McClatchy. They're showing that youth can be an asset -- along with persistence. Plus: With social distancing guidelines in effect, a pared-down seating chart means that fewer reporters are physically in the briefing room each day -- which raises the stakes for the reporters who are present.

Correcting Trump

On Sunday both Jiang and Diamond corrected the president when he pushed faulty info from the podium. Jiang asked Trump "why did you wait so long" to warn the public about the virus, and he defaulted to his travel ban talking point, saying "look at what I did in terms of cutting off of banning China for coming in--"

"Chinese nationals," Jiang said, "but by the way, not Americans who were also coming from China."

Trump snapped: "Nice and easy. Nice and easy. Just relax. We cut it off."

As she followed up, Trump asked her to "keep your voice down" and said she should be thanking him for "closing up the entire country," which he didn't do.

After the briefing, CNN's Dana Bash commented that "the way he treats the female reporters is different..."

More than 41,000 deaths

When Trump said at the briefing that "almost 40,000" Americans have died from the virus, Diamond correctly interjected, "more than."

"Oh, more than, okay, good, correct me."

"We're at 41,000," Diamond said.

"I am really glad you corrected me, CNN," Trump sneered.

He also attacked Diamond and CNN later on, saying "your ratings are so bad because you are pathetic." The factual part of that statement is provably false. Cable news ratings are at historic highs due to this crisis. Want to know what's really, truly "so bad?" The death toll. Trump seems more emotional about CNN than about the body count...

Bottom line

The briefings continue to be founts of nonsensical claims, full of media bashing and blame-shifting, in between legitimately important and newsworthy bits of info. For example, POTUS said "our testing is expanding very rapidly by millions and millions of people." Maeve Reston wrote, "it was unclear why the president cited that number since the US is only testing about 150,000 people daily."

CNN's fact-checking squad has a full review of Trump's false claims here. One of the most egregious lies was about the local protests against stay-at-home orders. "I watched the protest, and they were all six-feet apart," he said, lying about something we could all see with our own eyes. On "CNN Tonight," Don Lemon showed protesters grouped very closely together in Wisconsin, Texas, California, and Maryland. "Does this look six feet apart to you? It's not."

For the record

-- On Sunday's "Reliable Sources" Juliette Kayyem said the protesters who are defying public health experts by gathering in groups are "dangerous" and "self-centered" by providing fuel for the virus.

-- Fox News talk show hosts continued to promote the protests over the weekend. "Fox News has set the stage for where we are today," Philip Bump said.

-- Isaac Stanley-Becker and Tony Romm on the front page of Monday's WaPo: "A trio of far-right, pro-gun provocateurs is behind some of the largest Facebook groups calling for anti-quarantine protests around the country, offering the latest illustration that some seemingly organic demonstrations are being engineered by a network of conservative activists."

-- "They are protesting, in many cases the president's own policies, the White House's own guidelines," Jeff Zeleny said on CNN Sunday night...

-- My take: When we're covering protests against the stay-at-home orders, we should show them in proportion -- noting that the views of the protesters are a distinct minority...

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Surrogates for the public

Two of the aforementioned White House reporters, Francesca Chambers and Kaitlan Collins, joined me on Sunday's "Reliable Sources." Chambers said her job "is to be able to get information and answers on behalf of people who can't be in the room." Exactly! And Collins pointed out that people are watching the briefings "not because they want to see the president's feuds with reporters," but because "they want to get information about the outbreak..."

Bottom-up coverage

The more I watch the WH briefings, the more I think: Instead of focusing on what politicians are saying, let's center our news coverage on the people who elected them. What are the needs of voters, workers, employers, job-seekers, nurses, doctors? What do they want to know? And what do they expect from elected officials? Let's amplify their voices...

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 51079

Reported Deaths: 2756
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12019693
Lake5588248
Elkhart353959
Allen2939134
St. Joseph210669
Hamilton1691101
Cass16449
Hendricks1454100
Johnson1340118
Porter82638
Tippecanoe7709
Vanderburgh7276
Clark69544
Madison67464
LaPorte61628
Howard59858
Bartholomew59745
Kosciusko5754
Marshall5449
Noble51328
LaGrange4849
Boone48244
Jackson4783
Delaware47152
Hancock46736
Shelby45425
Floyd40644
Morgan34231
Monroe34028
Grant31826
Dubois3046
Henry30018
Montgomery29720
Clinton2903
White27410
Dearborn25823
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Vigo2528
Warrick25029
Harrison21722
Greene19432
Miami1932
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1649
Wayne1546
Daviess15017
Perry14710
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1352
Ripley1307
Franklin1278
Gibson1202
Wabash1162
Carroll1142
Fayette1067
Whitley1066
Starke1043
Newton10010
Huntington942
Jefferson862
Wells821
Randolph794
Fulton731
Knox710
Jay700
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush613
Posey570
Spencer541
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 64214

Reported Deaths: 3036
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin11724445
Cuyahoga8979393
Hamilton6781207
Lucas2952305
Marion274539
Montgomery244035
Summit2327209
Pickaway222241
Mahoning1928239
Butler182147
Columbiana137860
Stark1214114
Lorain112069
Trumbull104578
Warren97725
Clark80010
Delaware69815
Fairfield66717
Tuscarawas60410
Lake58923
Medina58232
Belmont56922
Licking56812
Miami50631
Portage49259
Wood48851
Clermont4737
Ashtabula44744
Geauga42543
Wayne37253
Richland3715
Allen35641
Greene3439
Mercer29910
Erie27122
Holmes2595
Darke25626
Huron2402
Madison2169
Ottawa17324
Sandusky16015
Washington14620
Ross1443
Coshocton1423
Athens1391
Crawford1385
Putnam13715
Hardin12312
Morrow1201
Auglaize1094
Jefferson1092
Muskingum1001
Union931
Preble901
Monroe8917
Hancock861
Lawrence830
Guernsey823
Clinton811
Hocking809
Williams762
Shelby744
Logan711
Ashland672
Carroll673
Fulton670
Scioto670
Wyandot635
Brown611
Fayette550
Defiance533
Knox531
Champaign511
Highland501
Van Wert471
Perry441
Seneca412
Henry330
Paulding300
Jackson280
Pike280
Adams261
Vinton232
Gallia201
Noble140
Harrison131
Meigs130
Morgan110
Unassigned00
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