President Donald Trump has, for the most part, managed to hold off on his usual attacks on the press over the past few days, even praising reporters for being “very fair” with their coverage on the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this week.
However, his press conference on Thursday showed that he’s still struggling to play nice with the media and stay on message, even as the coronavirus outbreak ramps up.
Never Mind, You Guys Actually Haven’t Been Fair To Me
When asked why the United States wasn’t more prepared to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, Trump insisted that “the only thing we weren’t prepared for was the media.”
“The media has not treated it fairly,” he complained, flatly contradicting his praise for the media several days ago when he said its coverage “actually has been really fair.”
Trump claimed his China travel ban proved how prepared he was but the media had ignored his efforts.
“They know it’s true, but they don’t want to write about it,” he said.
The Media Is “Much Nicer” In Smaller Numbers
The very first comment the President made at the beginning of the presser was a jab at the low number of reporters in attendance, who were all spread out to avoid physical contact in the normally packed White House briefing room.
“I have to say I think with social distancing that the media’s been much nicer,” Trump said. “I don’t know what it is. All these empty–these in-between chairs.”
I Only Want Reporters I Like
Later on, the President responded to a question about what guidance he had for Congress by telling reporters that they were sitting too close to each other.
“Really, we should probably get rid of about another 75-80 percent of you,” he said. “I’ll just have two or three that I like in this room. I think that’s a great way of doing it.”
He repeated again that the journalists were “much too close” and joked that they should “leave immediately.”
The Media Is In Cahoots With China
Near the end of the conference, Trump was gifted with an opportunity to further bash the press when Chanel Rion from OAN, a brazenly pro-Trump media outlet, asked him if he thought it was “alarming” that mainstream news outlets are “consistently siding with foreign state propaganda, Islamic radicals and Latin gangs and cartels.”
“It’s really–I think I came up with the term, I hope I came up with the term–but it is fake news,” he replied. “It’s more than fake news, it’s corrupt news.”
The OAN personality once again pushed the baseless accusation that reporters were “siding with state propaganda.”
“I think they do. They are siding with China,” Trump said. “They are doing things that they shouldn’t be doing. They’re siding with many others. China’s the least of it.”
One journalist in attendance reportedly left a pointed note for Rion after the briefing was over:
Someone left this note for the OAN personality at the White House: “Do you think your question was helpful in halting the spread of the coronavirus?” pic.twitter.com/Jy8rzVs5Y0
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) March 19, 2020
Rion later responded with a printed note of her own:
Dear Anonymous… pic.twitter.com/q4sj405H65
— Chanel Rion OAN (@ChanelRion) March 19, 2020