ABC, CBS Boost Dem Suggestions Trump Not Taking Virus Seriously

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Shortly before President Trump addressed the nation on Wednesday to explain what his administration was doing to prepare for the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19), ABC’s World News Tonight and CBS Evening News decided to give a megaphone to Democratic lawmakers so they could suggest the administration wasn’t taking the virus seriously.

“Tonight, President Trump under pressure to show that he is in command of America's response to the growing international crisis,” declared ABC special correspondent Kyra Phillips (emphasis hers). After reading from a tweet the President posted to reassure the American people, Phillips tried to contradict him with this soundbite of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar: “America's risk is low at the moment. That could change quickly.”

Though she said the concern was bipartisan, Phillips clung tightly to the fearmongering of congressional Democrats:

PHILLIPS: Democrats are frustrated.

REP. ANNA ESHOO (D-CA): I believe that the administration's lack of coordination for the coronavirus response is on full display. We all know that.

PHILLIPS: Sources telling us the President has been closely watching the diving Dow. The administration has asked Congress for an additional $2.5 billion to respond to the coronavirus threat. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that's not nearly enough.

SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): What he's doing is late, too late, anemic. Hopefully, we can make up for the loss of time.

 

 

Over on CBS, they thought, for some reason, it was prudent to chide how little Trump visited the White House briefing room BEFORE talking about the virus. “President Trump will soon appear before reporters alongside his coronavirus task force. For only the second time in his presidency, he's going to speak to the press from the White House briefing room,” announced anchor Norah O’Donnell.

White House correspondent Paula Reid seemed to hint that the reason Trump didn’t speak there often was because he was afraid of the press:

O’DONNELL: And Paula, it is rare to see the President come into the White House briefing room, right?

PAULA REID: Absolutely. It's a confined space where he potentially faces questions from over 100 reporters!

The premise of their segment was that the Trump administration wasn’t taking the virus seriously, so they decided to take that asinine detour to score some petty points.

Reid eventually hyped a congressional hearing exchange that featured Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy (D) yelling over Azar and appearing to nearly claim Trump wasn’t interested in stopping the virus. “Mr. Secretary, I don't want to panic over this either. The stock market’s crashing. He's trying to stop a stock market. He's not trying –,” Kennedy caught himself. “He’s outright contradicting everything that you all have just said, outright contradiction.”

Towards the end of her report, Reid noted that “Democrats accuse the administration of downplaying the crisis and underfunding the response,” before playing the same Pelosi soundbite ABC did. She then wrapped up by seemingly hinting that Trump’s motivation for stopping the virus was political. “A strong economy is central to the President's reelection strategy, so getting out ahead of a virus that could sad and slow economic growth is critical,” she said.

The transcripts are below, click "expand" to read:

ABC’s World News Tonight
February 26, 2020
6:35:33 p.m. Eastern

DAVID MUIR: As I mentioned at the top tonight, President Trump is set to speak about what the U.S. is doing to prepare, and ABC's Kyra Phillips tonight at the White House.

[Cuts to video]

KYRA PHILLIPS: Tonight, President Trump under pressure to show that he is in command of America's response to the growing international crisis. On Twitter, the President declaring "The CDC and my administration are doing a great job of handling coronavirus. We have not had one death. Let's keep it that way."

But on Capitol Hill, the secretary of Health and Human Services with this warning.

ALEX AZAR (Health and Human Services secretary): America's risk is low at the moment. That could change quickly.

PHILLIPS: Lawmakers from both parties have voiced concern about the administration's response. The acting secretary of Homeland Security under fire when he acknowledged the government needs about 300 million respirators for health care workers, but only has 30 million on hand.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): You're head of Homeland Security. Do we have enough respirators or not?

PHILLIPS: Today, the head of the CDC pressed.

(…)

PHILLIPS: Democrats are frustrated.

REP. ANNA ESHOO (D-CA): I believe that the administration's lack of coordination for the coronavirus response is on full display. We all know that.

PHILLIPS: Sources telling us the President has been closely watching the diving Dow. The administration has asked Congress for an additional $2.5 billion to respond to the coronavirus threat. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that's not nearly enough.

SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): What he's doing is late, too late, anemic. Hopefully, we can make up for the loss of time.

[Cuts back to live]

MUIR: So, let's get to Kyra Phillips, she’s live at the White House tonight. And Kyra, the White House aware of this growing pressure, these questions from really members of both parties over on the hill.

PHILLIPS: That's right, David. President Trump has been closely following this story as it unfolds and he is also watching the markets that have been falling for three straight days now. Tonight, he has assembled his team behind him, including the vice president of the United States, to project calm and tell the American people he is in charge and on this case. David?

MUIR: Kyra Phillips at the White House, thank you.

 

CBS Evening News
February 26, 2020
6:33:51 p.m. Eastern

NORAH O’DONNELL: Want to turn now to the other breaking news. President Trump will soon appear before reporters alongside his coronavirus task force. For only the second time in his presidency, he's going to speak to the press from the White House briefing room.

The President is expected to outline plans for dealing with the coronavirus threat. Cases worldwide now top 80,000 with more than 2,700 deaths. Three more coronavirus cases were confirmed in the U.S. today. That's bringing the total number to 60.

And that led to another triple-digit loss on Wall Street today. We have two reports beginning with Paula Reid at the White House. And Paula, it is rare to see the President come into the White House briefing room, right?

PAULA REID: Absolutely. It's a confined space where he potentially faces questions from over 100 reporters! Earlier today he called his top health officials to the White House for an emergency briefing on the virus, and this press conferences an opportunity for him to reassure the American people that his administration is prepared for this outbreak.

[Cuts to video]

Anger and frustration at the White House tonight, as the President tries to get control of his administration's message on the coronavirus. Mr. Trump is especially frustrated that comments from the CDC stoked fears of the virus and sent stocks tumbling this week. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar tried to convey the President's position to concerned lawmakers.

ALEX AZAR (Health and Human Services secretary): He's trying the calm a public that -- we see in China panic can be as big of an enemy as virus in these situations. And so, there is always that balance --

REP. JOE KENNEDY (D-MA): Mr. Secretary, I don't want to panic over this either. The stock market’s crashing. He's trying to stop a stock market. He's not trying – He’s outright contradicting everything that you all have just said, outright contradiction.

REID: Administration officials insisted yesterday the virus was tightly contained, but Azar said today it is spreading.

AZAR: I was informed that we have a 15th confirmed case. [transition] There is now community transmission in a number of countries, including outside of Asia, which deeply concerning.

REID: Democrats accuse the administration of downplaying the crisis and underfunding the response.

SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): What he’s doing is late, too late, anemic. Hopefully, we can make up for the loss of time.

[Cuts to video]

REID: A strong economy is central to the President's reelection strategy, so getting out ahead of a virus that could sad and slow economic growth is critical. Norah.

O’DONNELL: all right, Paula, thank you so much.

NB Daily Foreign Policy Government Agencies CDC Health Care Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Political Groups Liberals & Democrats Broadcast Television ABC World News Tonight CBS CBS Evening News Video Norah O'Donnell Paula Reid Kyra Phillips Donald Trump Nancy Pelosi

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