by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Not all of President Trump’s early coronavirus briefings have been down-to-brass-tacks. Many, however, were appropriately focused, calm, and dry — for the most part. It’s a tone befitting the perilous moment at hand, and largely what helped convince the public that Trump was capably shepherding the nation through this crisis.
The briefings are a net benefit, putting the president in front of the press every day, forcing him to answer for his administration’s response to the crisis. It’s hardly what’s important right now, but I do think Trump’s approval rating has benefitted from a briefings bump. He seems to agree. That said, to sustain the bump and keep the political class focused on what matters, Trump’s briefings should stick to business.
The corporate media is not treating Trump fairly. The president is right that Democrats were slow to acknowledge the gravity of the Wuhan virus as well. Trump has never pulled punches, and that’s part of what explains his success in politics. Now, with lives lost and the economy teetering, he should at least save those punches for Twitter, and keep the briefings focused.
That will, of course, be made difficult by corporate reporters eager to distract with unsubstantiated questions about racism, or trivial matters of palace intrigue. But aside from keeping the broader national conversation on track, Trump will look better for taking the high road, which can still involve pushing back against dumb questions, but maybe without calling reporters disgraceful. Such dust-ups create secondary storylines that further polarize people. Don’t play their game.
This is a recommendation made with humility. … I don’t presume to know better than he does. I do, however, think his early briefings were better for the country and, yes, better for his ratings than the briefings over the last few days. …
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