The conservative Wall Street Journal urged readers to tune out President Donald Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings.
The newspaper’s editorial board published a column Wednesday evening lamenting that Trump had turned those news conferences into an airing of grievances instead of useful updates on the public health crisis.
“The briefings began as a good idea to educate the public about the dangers of the virus, how Americans should change their behavior, and what the government is doing to combat it,” the column began. “They showed seriousness of purpose, action to mobilize public and private resources, and a sense of optimism. Mr. Trump benefitted in the polls not because he was the center of attention but because he showed he had put together a team of experts working to overcome a national health crisis.”
Eventually the president concluded the briefings put the spotlight on him, and he began using them as a substitute for the freewheeling campaign rallies he can’t hold during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Perhaps he resented the media adulation that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been receiving for his daily show,” the column says. “Whatever the reason, the briefings are now all about the President.”
The Journal stopped short of calling out the president for spreading misinformation about the virus or his administration’s handling of the outbreak, as many media outlets have done, but the newspaper complained that Trump was unable to resist petty attacks on his critics.
“On Tuesday Mr. Trump was asked, in a typically tendentious question, why he had compared the coronavirus to the flu,” the column says. “Instead of saying he had been hoping for the best but was wrong when he’d said that, he got into a fight over the severity of the flu. This sort of exchange usually devolves into a useless squabble that helps Mr. Trump’s critics and contributes little to public understanding.”
“The President’s outbursts against his political critics are also notably off key at this moment,” the column adds. “This isn’t impeachment, and COVID-19 isn’t shifty Schiff. It’s a once-a-century threat to American life and livelihood.”