Reporters Scoff at Trump's Credibility, Leadership During Virus Presser

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It is seemingly impossible for many in the media to put politics aside, even when asking the president questions about a serious virus. That was obvious during today’s press conference where President Trump fielded condescending questions from reporters questioning his credibility and if his supporters actually follow medical advice.

After being accused of racism from ABC’s Cecilia Vega, Trump called on CBS White House correspondent Ben Tracy, who attacked his leadership capabilities:

“You tweeted this morning about your approval rating amongst Republicans. You have said that you give yourself a 10 in terms of handling this crisis. How do you reassure Americans at home who don't trust you to handle a crisis of this magnitude?” he posed.

 

Later on, Reuters' White House correspondent Jeff Mason continued that condescending tone with his own question. Mason badgered the president for comparing the virus to the flu weeks ago, before painting with a broad brush, saying that his supporters were clinging to that statement instead of the White House’s current guidelines which line up with medical experts’ advice:

Mr. President, I was struck by what Dr. Birx said about millennials and others perhaps not taking some of these warnings as seriously as you’d like. Some of those people seem to be your supporters and conservatives who may be quoting some of what you said at the beginning of this, comparing it to the flu. What's your message to them to really follow what you've been saying so far, and are you concerned that they're still listening to your earlier comments rather than your more recent ones?

Despite these loaded questions, President Trump didn’t respond in kind and these exchanges ended rather peacefully, with Trump reiterating the need for people to remain calm but take it seriously and “heed the advice.”

Towards the end of the presser, another reporter tried to bash Trump’s approval ratings, but was quickly shut down. The reporter claimed his “credibility ratings” were “very low” citing a NPR poll before Trump cut in:

“What are you asking with that question? Because I see that they're very high. 95% of the Republican party,” he began, saying polls showed him beating Biden in key states before moving on to the next reporter.

These weren’t the only politicized questions at today’s press conference. As mentioned above, ABC’s Cecilia Vega and PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor badgered Trump for calling the coronavirus, Chinese, which they claimed was “racist.”

See the relevant transcripts below:

3/18/20

CORONAVIRUS PRESS CONFERENCE

...

CBS WH CORRESPONDENT BEN TRACY: You tweeted this morning about your approval rating amongst Republicans. You have said that you give yourself a 10 in terms of handling this crisis. How do you reassure Americans at home who don't trust you to handle a crisis of this magnitude?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well I think we're doing a really good job. We started off with a termination of the border, the people coming in from China where this all started. That meant I took it seriously. When I used the word calm, that doesn’t mean I’m not taking it seriously, we should be calm, we should be extremely calm, but, yeah, 95% within the Republican party and over 50% and I also have -- we have great approval numbers. People like the job we’re doing. When you--you can’t compare this to other epidemics or if you want to use a different term you can but within this country and you look at what's happened over the years, this has been handled very very professionally. We have the greatest professionals in the world. No one’s ever been swamped like this. And nothing so contagious...

….

REUTERS’ WH CORRESPONDENT JEFF MASON: Mr. President, I was struck by what Dr. Birx said about millennials and others perhaps not taking some of these warnings as seriously as you’d like. Some of those people seem to be your supporters and conservatives who may be quoting some of what you said at the beginning of this, comparing it to the flu. What's your message to them to really follow what you've been saying so far, and are you concerned that they're still listening to your earlier comments rather than your more recent ones?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well I think my earlier comments were to be calm. I do want people to be calm. Because we’re going to win this and We'll win this it's just a question of time and so based on the fact that I want it to go quickly, I hope they just listen to what we've been saying over the last period of time. We don't want them gathering. I see they do gather, including on beaches and restaurants, young people, they don't realize, they're feeling invincible. I don’t know if you felt invincible when you were very young. But they were feeling totally invincible or are feeling that way but they don't realize they can be carrying lots of bad things home to their grandmother, grandfather or even their parents. So heed the advice. We mean the advice. I do believe it's going through. I do believe its going through Jeff.

NBC WH CORRESPONDENT PETER ALEXANDER: They’re watching. What do you say to them they’re watching. I think there’s a lot of them watching. These young people. What do you say to them if they're watching?

TRUMP: I think I just said. Heed the advice. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, your credibility ratings are very low, a recent NPR poll --

TRUMP: What are you asking with that question? Because I see that they're very high. 95% of the Republican party, we just had a poll that was done by a very reputable group where I'm beating sleepy Joe Biden by a lot in Florida. In the state of Florida and in other states. So I don’t really know what you’re talking about.

NB Daily Coronavirus Reuters CBS Jeff Mason Ben Tracy White House Press Briefing Donald Trump
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