Trump goes into hiding

President Trump unexpectedly leaves the coronavirus task force briefing without answering questions, a day after he asked medical experts to look into the possibility of injecting disinfectant as a treatment for the coronavirus.

Posted: Apr 26, 2020 1:31 PM
Updated: Apr 26, 2020 1:31 PM

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

It looks like President Trump is going into hiding -- from the press, that is. Facing an avalanche of controversy over his bizarre comments on sunlight and dangerous comments regarding disinfectants, the President held a record short briefing Friday evening (sans Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx), abruptly ending it after 22 minutes of statements without taking any questions from the press.

On CNN, Wolf Blitzer called Trump "chicken" and said he was "probably afraid" of the grilling he was all but certain to face over the "flat lie" he told the day before regarding disinfectants. Later in the night, Anderson Cooper, who argued Trump was guilty of "Soviet"-like spin for pretending his comments were sarcastic during a bill signing, said he "cut and ran" because he knew he'd face hard questions.

CNN and other news organizations, including Axios which broke the news, reported Friday evening that there has been an effort among White House aides to stop holding daily coronavirus briefings. And the schedule released for Saturday shows no briefings scheduled...

"Unsettling"

The move comes after Trump even started receiving criticism from Fox. When he tried to claim that he was merely being sarcastic with his disinfectant remarks, anchors like Neil Cavuto and Bret Baier pushed back. "Wow, that is a little unsettling," said Cavuto. "Got to clarify this. The president was not joking in his remarks yesterday." And Baier said Trump "clearly stepped in it" and did not appear to be joking.

>> Worth noting: While some on Fox pushed back against Trump's remarks, AP's David Bauder pointed out that the network didn't question them on Thursday. The network's news site also questioned whether critics had "twisted" Trump's words. And Trump's biggest defenders on the network still are not challenging him. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if Trump does an on-air chat sooner than later with one of his friends on Fox while he dodges questions from the press...

Drudge brutally mocks

It wasn't just Fox anchors like Cavuto and Baier. The Drudge Report, which has grown critical of Trump, but is still one of the top conservative news websites, brutally mocked Trump on Friday. Take a look at the site's banner headline and image (and pay attention to what the label says). Ouch!

That said, some loyal outlets tried defending

That's not to say that Trump didn't have right-wing outlets rush to defend him. Websites like The Daily Wire, The Gateway Pundit, and Breitbart all published stories trying to convince readers that Trump didn't say what he clearly said. Breitbart's story, written by Joel Pollack, was widely mocked online.

And it appeared by late Friday that it even had crossed a line for Breitbart's senior management. A note was appended to the top of Pollack's story saying it had been "erroneously framed" as a fact check when it should have been labeled opinion. "We apologize for the error, and you are welcome for all the opportunities to dunk on us on Twitter," the note said. Yikes!

>> Of course, worth noting that Breitbart's note came after Trump claimed his remarks were sarcastic, effectively admitting he made them. Which brings me to this point from Ben Collins who tweeted, "Shout out to all of the fringe media outlets who feverishly scrambled all night to claim Trump didn't say to inject disinfectant, or that he was referencing some obscure UV light treatment, only to be kneecapped at noon by the president, who now says he was just kidding..."

White House even tries reassigning seats

Back to Trump's aversion to the press... Before Friday's briefing, the White House attempted to force CNN to swap its front-row seat with the seat reserved at the back of the room for the print pooler. Kaitlan Collins, who was in the room for CNN, said on Twitter that both she and the print pooler, The Blade's Chris Johnson, refused. The briefing ultimately took place with both of them in their original seats.

The WHCA controls the press seating assignments, not the White House, so the officials had no real authority to try to pick and choose where Collins or Johnson sat. But it's worth noting the lengths the White House went to in its effort to implement this move. Johnson said he had been told by a White House official that it wasn't an option and that the Secret Service was involved. The Secret Service later told the WHCA that it was "not involved whatsoever in this effort."

Karl says WHCA will "challenge any effort" to move reporters

I spoke by phone with WHCA President Jon Karl on Friday night. "The bottom line," Karl told me, "is there is a decades long bipartisan tradition of the WHCA determining the seating assignments in the briefing room." He said, "I don't know what the White House is doing, but I know where we stand. We will challenge any effort to pick and choose what outlets are there or the manner in which they are in there."

No comment from the White House

I emailed Kayleigh McEnany and Hogan Gidley multiple times on Friday night asking for comment. Why did the White House try to force a seat swap? Why did an official say the Secret Service was involved in the matter when the Secret Service says it wasn't? I never heard back...

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1101185

Reported Deaths: 17557
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1441632231
Lake715041238
Allen65802880
Hamilton50322484
St. Joseph48966643
Elkhart39621543
Vanderburgh34317495
Tippecanoe30336273
Johnson27293465
Hendricks25947380
Porter25171386
Madison20749447
Clark19985277
Vigo18838308
LaPorte16924261
Delaware16480297
Howard16432311
Monroe16415219
Kosciusko13976165
Hancock12899185
Bartholomew12729189
Warrick12051190
Wayne11921267
Floyd11901226
Grant11755240
Morgan10276190
Boone9706121
Noble9094122
Henry9040165
Marshall8932147
Dearborn8866100
Dubois8751139
Shelby8101129
Cass8055127
Lawrence7939184
DeKalb7638107
Jackson752693
Huntington7475110
Gibson7019118
Montgomery6930123
Harrison688298
Knox6855115
Steuben655787
Miami6497109
Whitley644860
Putnam635583
Clinton619877
Wabash6080109
Jasper604992
Jefferson5710103
Ripley550292
Adams533781
Daviess5020117
Scott482880
Wells4733101
White470368
Greene463899
Clay459762
Decatur4548110
Jennings441766
Fayette438494
LaGrange421290
Posey404044
Washington385455
Randolph3834107
Fountain368762
Spencer357347
Fulton356872
Starke349073
Owen347577
Sullivan345754
Orange325571
Jay321950
Rush299632
Carroll290238
Franklin287144
Perry285153
Vermillion281158
Tipton248265
Parke247030
Pike245044
Blackford218744
Pulaski206458
Newton179752
Brown174050
Crawford168129
Benton163917
Martin151719
Switzerland145612
Warren132316
Union118316
Ohio91813
Unassigned0587

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1690217

Reported Deaths: 26587
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1772171827
Cuyahoga1648472640
Hamilton1125391528
Montgomery796451395
Summit705111199
Lucas620241020
Butler56096805
Stark527941171
Lorain41276642
Warren35509412
Mahoning35270771
Lake31622495
Clermont30804363
Delaware26791182
Trumbull26782616
Licking26297336
Medina25419351
Fairfield24256287
Greene24097372
Clark21748387
Portage20807281
Richland20686340
Wood19745246
Allen18638320
Miami17074348
Columbiana16571332
Muskingum16483206
Wayne15482306
Tuscarawas14158360
Marion13116194
Erie12479198
Ashtabula12417232
Scioto12288184
Pickaway12114153
Ross11526225
Hancock11321173
Geauga10726175
Lawrence10531172
Belmont10304234
Huron9633158
Jefferson9504227
Union944075
Sandusky9106166
Seneca8752157
Knox8663170
Washington8632158
Athens828996
Darke8288180
Ashland7873149
Auglaize7794117
Shelby7369133
Defiance7243115
Crawford7129150
Brown7072115
Fulton7058112
Logan6899108
Guernsey684284
Mercer683998
Highland6659119
Madison643889
Clinton6422106
Williams635899
Preble6194140
Putnam6126120
Jackson574096
Champaign570687
Perry561179
Coshocton5576104
Ottawa555499
Morrow509364
Fayette485370
Hardin480699
Gallia465478
Pike460176
Van Wert458993
Adams4531109
Henry426978
Hocking403093
Holmes3947140
Wyandot369373
Carroll354478
Paulding320551
Meigs303459
Monroe233661
Noble218047
Morgan212138
Harrison206953
Vinton184337
Unassigned06
Fort Wayne
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Hi: 47° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 40°
Angola
Mostly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 41°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 41°
Decatur
Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 40°
Van Wert
Cloudy
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Hi: 46° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 39°
The warming trend is expected to continue through Thursday, before cooler air returns to the Midwest for the weekend.
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