On Saturday, NBC’s Today show took time to share one of the top media concerns in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – that the crisis has hampered likely Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s ability to campaign. Meanwhile, the network broadcast fretted that daily White House briefings about the virus had provided President Trump with a “substitute for campaign rallies.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has temporarily transformed nearly every aspect of American life, including the race for the White House,” correspondent Geoff Bennett told viewers. He then declared: “And with President Trump seizing the national spotlight day by day from the White House, the Democratic candidates have had to find new ways to connect with voters.”
Bennett lamented: “For President Trump, daily briefings are now his daily substitute for campaign rallies...The President, who initially downplayed the virus’s impact, boosting his re-election bid by blanketing the airwaves.”
“Former Vice President Joe Biden, like most Americans, is following the CDC guidance to stay at home and it threatens to blunt his momentum,” the reporter warned, before touting how the Democratic frontrunner “installed a television studio in his basement to help step up his public presence.”
The fawning segment highlighted how Biden “holds virtual press briefings” and even “appeared on a digital edition of Jimmy Kimmel.”
On March 25, MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell feared Trump’s approval rating “skyrocketing” due to his response to the crisis and bemoaned Biden “having difficultly” getting his campaign message out.
Perhaps it was due to all the liberal media concern about Biden that Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd invited the former Vice President on the Sunday show for a softball interview. During that exchange Todd urged a vicious attack against Trump, asking: “Do you think there is blood on the President’s hands?”
Here is a full transcript of the March 28 segment on Saturday’s Today show:
7:15 AM ET
PETER ALEXANDER: Normally at this time of year, the race for 2020 would be at a fever pitch, with candidates crisscrossing the country, asking for your vote. But in light of the coronavirus, the campaigns are looking a lot different these days, obviously. NBC’s Geoff Bennett has much more on that and what the candidates are trying to do about it. Geoff, good morning.
GEOFF BENNETT: Hey, Peter, good morning to you. The coronavirus pandemic has temporarily transformed nearly every aspect of American life, including the race for the White House. Virtual campaigning is now the new norm for Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. And with President Trump seizing the national spotlight day by day from the White House, the Democratic candidates have had to find new ways to connect with voters.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Campaigning During the Crisis; Candidates Struggle to Connect With Voters Amid Shutdown]
While the remaining 2020 presidential candidates are used to seeing adoring crowds on the campaign trail, the coronavirus pandemic has forced them to find new ways to connect with voters. For President Trump, daily briefings are now his daily substitute for campaign rallies.
DONALD TRUMP: We’ve done one hell of a job. And it’s lucky that you have this group here right now for this problem or you wouldn’t even have a country left.
BENNETT: The President, who initially downplayed the virus’s impact, boosting his re-election bid by blanketing the airwaves. With the leading Democratic candidate left pushing for a higher profile. Former Vice President Joe Biden, like most Americans, is following the CDC guidance to stay at home and it threatens to blunt his momentum. Biden’s campaign this week installed a television studio in his basement to help step up his public presence.
JOE BIDEN: I’m chomping at the bit, but I am where I am. And I hope to be the nominee of the Democratic Party and I hope I’m able to get my message across as we go forward.
BENNETT: Biden now holds virtual press briefings, appeared on a digital edition of Jimmy Kimmel.
JIMMY KIMMEL: Are you able to stay away from people during this time?
BIDEN: Well, I’m not officially quarantined, but I’m trying to follow the rules here.
BENNETT: Even hosted a virtual happy hour.
BIDEN: None of us want to be cooped up in our homes.
BENNETT: Meantime, Biden’s lone competitor, Senator Bernie Sanders, is signaling he’s pressing forward despite trailing in the delegate count. This week he held a virtual town hall. Sanders perhaps remaining in the presidential race for months to come, since now more than a dozen states have postponed their primary elections out of fear that in-person voting right now could spread the virus.
BENNETT: Now, even though Joe Biden has opened up a nearly insurmountable delegate lead over Bernie Sanders, Sanders says he’s actively pursuing the Democratic nomination, even says he wants to participate in a potential April debate, if one happens to be scheduled. Joe Biden, though, says there have been enough debates, he wants to bring this Democratic primary to a quick close. Kristen, Peter?
ALEXANDER: No campaign stops to go to, Geoff Bennett’s here in D.C. Geoff, thank you very much this morning.