The White House broke from tradition and stopped giving official daily press briefings about a year ago. In recent weeks, they’ve come back, although instead of being led by the press secretary, as is customary, it’s been Donald Trump himself at the podium, along with other members of his coronavirus task force. And while it definitely feels better (in theory, at least) to have an open line of communication between the press and the White House is this distressing time, the reality of the situation has been less than great, starting with the fact that Trump can’t stop losing his temper at reporters just asking normal, serious questions.
Last week, he told PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor that her question (about his decision to disband the US Pandemic Response Team in 2018) was “nasty.”
WATCH: @Yamiche presses President Trump on the decision to downsize the White House national security staff, eliminating jobs addressing global pandemics.
The president calls it “a nasty question” and asserts that “I didn’t do it.” pic.twitter.com/ENFgvLGlfd
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) March 13, 2020
Today, he repeated the insult when talking to NBC News’ Peter Alexander, who dared to ask Trump about his “positive spin” and whether that might be giving people false hope about an end to the coronavirus.
“What do you say to Americans who are scared though? I guess, nearly 200 dead, 14,000 who are sick, millions, as you witnessed, who are scared right now,” Alexander asked. “What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?”
Trump’s response to the total softball question? “I say that you’re a terrible reporter. That’s what I say. I think that’s a very nasty question.”
Peter Alexander was trying to get the president of the United States to address the fears Americans have about #coronavirus. His attack on Peter is absolutely shameful and hard to watch — but realize that he attacked Peter so he could avoid answering to you. pic.twitter.com/fJ0PC4Hk9N
— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) March 20, 2020
By comparison, Trump is making Mike Pence look like a competent choice to lead a health pandemic response team, which is not easy to do.
I offered both Pres Trump and VP Pence an opportunity to reassure Americans.
Simple question: “What do you say to Americans who are scared?”
Trump, to me: “I say, you’re a terrible reporter.”
Pence, an hour later: “Don’t be afraid. Be vigilant.”
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) March 20, 2020
Trump also got temperamental with Yamiche Alcindor again today.
My Q: When will everyone who needs a coronavirus test be able to get a test?
Pres Trump: “No-one is talking about this except you, which doesn’t surprise me.”
My Q: What about people w/ symptoms who cannot get a test?
Trump: “Yeah, well, OK. I’m not— I’m not hearing it.”
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) March 20, 2020
And when he’s not angrily insulting reporters, he’s just straight-up embarrassing.
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) March 20, 2020
Also, for some reason, Sean Spicer was present at today’s briefing. But the man who used to stand behind the podium was on the other side of things today. You know those Saturday Night Live opening monologues where they plant less-known featured cast members and writers in the audience for a fake Q&A with the host? That’s exactly what this feels like and it is so bizarre to see.
Spicer asking this question as Trump didn’t acknowledge him and looked at him like he’d never seen him before was one of the weirdest moments I can recall in the White House briefing room. Totally bizarre. https://t.co/RDLoL83Zuq
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 20, 2020
I guess this is our new normal, which feels terrible but honestly, I can’t even remember what old normal felt like at this point.
(image: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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