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A new generation of White House reporters hold Trump accountable

Brian Stelter says some of the most revealing exchanges at recent White House briefings have been prompted by a new generation of correspondents. McClatchy's Francesca Chambers says her job "is to be able to get information and answers on behalf of people who can't be in the room." CNN's Kaitlan Collins says 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."

Posted: Apr 20, 2020 5:21 PM
Updated: Apr 20, 2020 5:21 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: 50300

Reported Deaths: 2748
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11920692
Lake5432248
Elkhart347058
Allen2902133
St. Joseph205169
Hamilton1665101
Cass16449
Hendricks1446100
Johnson1325118
Porter80238
Tippecanoe7599
Clark68144
Vanderburgh6816
Madison67264
LaPorte60527
Howard59458
Bartholomew59345
Kosciusko5704
Marshall5308
Noble50128
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Jackson4783
Boone47444
Delaware46952
Hancock46036
Shelby43525
Floyd40444
Morgan33631
Monroe32928
Grant30926
Dubois2976
Henry29717
Montgomery29720
Clinton2893
White26810
Decatur25532
Dearborn25423
Lawrence25225
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Warrick24329
Harrison21722
Greene19332
Miami1922
Jennings17912
Putnam1728
DeKalb1674
Scott1639
Wayne1536
Daviess15017
Perry1459
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1332
Franklin1278
Ripley1277
Wabash1152
Carroll1132
Gibson1132
Fayette1057
Whitley1045
Newton10010
Starke983
Huntington932
Randolph794
Wells791
Jefferson782
Fulton731
Jay680
Washington681
Knox670
Clay665
Pulaski661
Rush613
Posey550
Owen521
Benton510
Spencer501
Adams491
Sullivan471
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Tipton321
Switzerland300
Martin240
Parke230
Ohio220
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 62856

Reported Deaths: 3032
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin11433443
Cuyahoga8786393
Hamilton6563207
Lucas2889305
Marion274039
Montgomery237835
Summit2299209
Pickaway221641
Mahoning1907239
Butler176747
Columbiana135060
Stark1196114
Lorain109769
Trumbull103277
Warren94525
Clark79310
Delaware67515
Fairfield64317
Tuscarawas60110
Lake57022
Belmont56722
Medina56632
Licking56012
Miami50331
Portage48759
Wood47451
Clermont4537
Ashtabula44544
Geauga42543
Wayne37253
Richland3635
Allen34841
Greene3229
Mercer29510
Erie26722
Holmes2575
Darke25326
Huron2382
Madison2139
Ottawa16624
Sandusky15715
Washington14420
Coshocton1413
Ross1393
Crawford1385
Putnam13415
Hardin12312
Morrow1211
Athens1111
Auglaize1094
Jefferson1052
Muskingum961
Union931
Monroe8917
Hancock851
Lawrence820
Preble821
Hocking809
Clinton791
Guernsey793
Shelby744
Williams742
Logan681
Fulton660
Scioto650
Carroll643
Ashland632
Wyandot625
Brown601
Fayette550
Defiance533
Knox531
Champaign511
Highland491
Van Wert451
Perry411
Seneca402
Henry330
Paulding280
Jackson270
Pike270
Adams251
Vinton232
Gallia201
Noble130
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan120
Unassigned00
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