WashPost's Margaret Sullivan: Media Must Stop Live Airing of Trump Coronavirus Briefings

March 22nd, 2020 3:08 PM

Eeek! Trump's handling of the coronavirus crises is getting increasingly positive reviews from the public according to the poll numbers. Solution? The media must stop live broadcasting President Trump's coronavirus briefings.

The Washington Post media columnist, Margaret Sullivan, doesn't give those positive poll numbers as the reason for her now wanting the media to stop live broadcasting of the briefings but what is the possibility that is not her motivation? How about somewhere between nil and none?

Sullivan's angry tirade against those  briefings appeared on Saturday in "The media must stop live-broadcasting Trump’s dangerous, destructive coronavirus briefings."

Stand by for DEFCON 1 levels of anger and angst as Sullivan laughably attempts to justify why the public should be denied live access to the information provided by these briefings:

More and more each day, President Trump is using his daily briefings as a substitute for the campaign rallies that have been forced into extinction by the spread of the novel coronavirus.

These White House sessions — ostensibly meant to give the public critical and truthful information about this frightening crisis — are in fact working against that end.

More and more each day, the public is showing more and more support for the way President Trump is handling this crises and that is most likely what really upsets TDS sufferer Sullivan: 'When asked how he would grade his response to the crisis, the president said, 'I’d rate it a 10.' Absurd on its face, of course, but effective enough as blatant propaganda."

Margaret, how would YOU rate Trump's January 31 travel ban from China when liberals and much of the media were calling him a racist or xenophobe but which most rational observers now admit was a crucial early step in limiting the spread of coronavirus in the USA? Oh, and that was a very important decision that you conveniently left out of your rant:

...he has also found time during these news briefings to lavish praise on sycophantic pro-Trump media like One America News Network, whose staffer — I can’t call her a reporter — invited him to justify his xenophobic talk of a “Chinese virus” by asking rhetorically if he considers the phrase “Chinese food” racist.

The Post's media columnist is now deciding who are members of the media and we can see that Sullivan does not consider reporters from conservative outlets as qualifying as members of her exclusively liberal club (click "expand"):

Trump is doing harm and spreading misinformation while working for his own partisan political benefit — a naked attempt to portray himself as a wartime president bravely leading the nation through a tumultuous time, the FDR of the 21st century.

The press — if it defines its purpose as getting truthful, useful, non-harmful information to the public, as opposed to merely juicing its own ratings and profits — must recognize what is happening and adjust accordingly. (And that, granted, is a very big “if.”)

Business as usual simply doesn’t cut it. Minor accommodations, like fact-checking the president’s statements afterward, don’t go nearly far enough to counter the serious damage this man is doing to the public’s well-being.

Radical change is necessary: The cable networks and other news organizations that are taking the president’s briefings as live feeds should stop doing so.

The applicable word for this, Margaret, is "censorship." 

“I’m worried about our collective memory when it comes to this,” Charlie Warzel of the New York Times wrote on Saturday. It is this initial lack of action that will cost lives months down the road, he noted. Therefore, “accountability will mean not giving into recency bias when this ends and remembering how it got so bad in the first place.”

I'm worried about the collective memory at The New York Times which has conveniently forgotten Trump's January 31 China travel ban which was collectively condemned by much of the liberal media at the time.

Finally, Sullivan briefly considers avoiding censorship before coming out firmly in favor of it (click "expand"):

There’s a strong counter-argument to be made, of course: that the press shouldn’t be in the business of shielding the public from the president’s statements — no matter how misleading, xenophobic or damaging.

It’s a persuasive argument, and one I wish I could still believe in.

But Trump has proved, time after time, that he doesn’t care about truth, that he puts his financial and political self-interest above that of the public, and that he has no understanding of the role of the press in a democracy. And now lives are on the line.

And censorship must be instituted because the free flow of information runs counter to Sullivan's Orange Man Bad narrative.