Trump administration uses coronavirus to launch new attacks on the press
Donald Trump has tweeted more complaints about the ‘Lamestream Media’ than he has about the 20,000-plus COVID-19 deaths in the United States.
As the COVID-19 pandemic kills tens of thousands of Americans, Donald Trump and his administration have used the crisis as yet another opportunity to attack the press.
“I am working hard to expose the corruption and dishonesty in the Lamestream Media,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “That part is easy, the hard part is WHY?”
His complaining about press coverage is nothing new, but in recent weeks his administration has opened new fronts in its war on the media.
Mike Pence, whom Trump appointed to head up his COVID-19 response, reportedly barred members of the White House task force from appearing on CNN this month — a move believed to be an act of retaliation after the network stopped airing Trump’s dishonest daily briefings in full. Pence reversed course after the boycott made national news.
Attorney General William Barr last week accused the press of conducting a “jihad” for accurately reporting that hydroxychloroquine — repeatedly touted by Trump as a “miracle” cure for COVID-19 — has not been scientifically proven to be a safe or effective treatment for the disease.
“The politicization of decisions like hydroxychloroquine have been amazing to me,” Barr told Fox News. “Before the president said anything about it, there was fair and balanced coverage of this very promising drug, and the fact that [it] had such a long track record that the risks were pretty well-known. As soon as he said something positive about it, the media has been on a jihad to discredit the drug. It’s quite strange.”
Trump himself called Jonathan Karl of ABC News a “third-rate reporter” at an April 6 press conference after Karl asked him about an inspector general’s report that criticized his administration’s failed coronavirus response. Trump also lashed out at Fox News reporter Kristin Fisher, telling her that she should be saying, “Congratulations, great job” about his handling of the pandemic.
And on April 2, the administration overruled the White House Correspondents’ Association’s decision to bar from the White House briefing room a right-wing media figure who refused to follow COVID-19 social distancing rules and invited her back.
Even before the coronavirus, the administration had gone out of its way to make life difficult for the media.
It has been more than 13 months since a White House press secretary last held a briefing.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo retaliated against NPR in January, banning a reporter from traveling with him internationally after a different reporter for the network asked him tough questions about Ukraine.
Trump has attacked the media in 11 separate tweets in the past six weeks. Over that time, he has barely mentioned the 20,000-plus people who have died in the U.S. as a result of COVID-19.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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