White House reporter reveals alarming truth about Trump’s coronavirus response

A White House correspondent revealed that President Donald Trump's disjointed response to the coronavirus crisis was largely driven by media coverage.

Associated Press reporter Jonathan Lemire appeared Thursday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," where co-host Mika Brzezinski asked why the president had changed his mind on winding down his coronavirus task force one day after floating that possibility.

"Does he know that when you talk about shutting down a task force one day, and 24 hours later, you say people called him, that he is thinking and flying by the seat of his pants?" Brzezinski asked. "Does he know he is exposing himself by the day, as to not being fully connected with the gravity of this problem? Is anyone helping him?"

Lemire explained that the president's decisions were largely driven by the daily news cycle

"This will come as a great surprise, guys, but the president reacts to media coverage and to outside forces when it comes to decisions," Lemire said. "That's what we saw here. He had -- there was no coordinated effort, per se, but the White House had had discussions in the last few weeks about beginning to wind down the task force, as it was going to pivot more toward the economy, moving reopening parts of the nation, and wanting to de-emphasize, publicly, some of the health crisis response."

That shift in emphasis was also driven by media coverage, Lemire said.

"We've seen the briefings go away," he said, "although a lot of that, of course, was because the president's advisors realized it was damaging him politically. It was an effort not to make Dr. [Deborah] Birx and Dr. [Anthony] Fauci the public faces anymore. Instead, it was an attempt to change the conversation, to be more about the nation reopening and its economy. When the vice president said the other day in a meeting that the task force was going to be starting to wind down by the end of May or early June, and the president himself reiterated that on his trip to Arizona, there was some real blowback from business leaders, congressional Republicans."

"The president does listen to them from time to time, calling the White House late at night, also the media coverage, it was a major story yesterday on this show and others," Lemire added. "We know the president watches, he responds to that. He has decided to bring it back."

Although the task force will continue to exist, its efforts will take a back seat to Trump's political considerations.

"A note of caution, the tenor here is still going to change," Lemire said. "The briefings are not expected to return. We have the White House press secretary yesterday, we haven't seen Dr. Fauci or Dr. Birx from the podium at the White House for some time. They are still going to be part of this, but the president and his team want them to be less visible for the public. They want the focus, even as cases are going up across the country, even as cases outside New York continue to rise, they want the focus to be the nation trying to get back to work, reopening, thinking it is more politically advantageous for the president."