Alcindor: Covering Trump Is a ‘Team Sport’ for Press: We ‘Have Each Other’s Back’

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Basking in another contentious coronavirus White House press briefing, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor on Sunday night told MSNBC’s Ali Velshi that covering Donald Trump is a “team sport” for the press and that journalists must “have each other’s back” in opposition to the President. Much of the interview was spent lamenting that Alcindor only initially got one question out at the briefing before a CNN journalist used his question to allow her to ask another.

Speaking of Jeremy Diamond, she described the team dynamic as journalists vs. Trump: “I have to say thank you to Jeremy of CNN for giving me the opportunity to ask my second question. We know now that covering President Trump sometimes is like a team sport. We have to have each other's back in the press corps and Jeremy had my back today.”

 

 

In a way, it’s refreshing for a reporter to admit that they see themselves as on the opposite team of Trump. Alcindor chided the President for moving back his estimates for opening up the country. She continued: 

So he's been telling people, the country, churches should be packed by Easter Sunday and today he had to admit, “Actually I have to extend my guidelines to April 30th.” And, of course, my question was about the fact that he's been saying repeatedly that governors don't need the medical equipment that they're requesting, specifically saying New York doesn't need 30 to 40,000 ventilators. Of course, the President lashed out.

Alcindor described her role as a reporter this way: “Stay forward, stay focused, be steady and continue do the job you were there to do. For me it's a journalist, to hold presidents accountable and that's what I did today.”

Of course, she’s rushed to the defense of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, so maybe this doesn’t apply to all politicians. For more on Alcindor’s back and forth with Trump on Tuesday, go here.

Other guests during this 9pm hour of MSNBC on Sunday included Democrat Congressman Bobby Scott, Democrat Governor Jared Polis of Colorado, Austan Goolsbee, cabinet member to Democrat Barack Obama. Much of MSNBC’s coverage now is just hammering Trump at every turn when it comes to the coronavirus.

A partial transcript of the interview with Alcindor is below. Click “expand” to read more.

MSNBC Live

3/29/2020

9:07 PM ET 

[Plays clip of Alcindor and Trump battling.]

ALI VELSHI: There you see. You had to give up your mic for someone. Yamiche, this is not new for you. It's not the first time the President has come at you.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: It's not new. And I think today was just an underscoring of the fact the President was really upset by the fact he had to backtrack on some of the misleading claims he's been making. As you said, just a month ago, he was telling people that these cases were going to go away and disappear and now, of course, it’s actually we're probably not going to be able to get back up and running until maybe June. So he's been telling people, the country, churches should be packed by Easter Sunday and today he had to admit, “Actually I have to extend my guidelines to April 30th.” And, of course, my question was about the fact that he's been saying repeatedly that governors don't need the medical equipment that they're requesting, specifically saying New York doesn't need 30 to 40,000 ventilators. Of course, the President lashed out. And my message to people that watched me is stay forward, stay focused, be steady and continue do the job you were there to do. For me it's a journalist, to hold presidents accountable and that's what I did today.

VELSHI: So, there was more to the story. That's the ironic part. You tried to get a second question in. As an economic journalist your question was one after my own heart. The President didn't let you do that. So then Jeremy Diamond got a question. He’s a CNN a White House reporter. He took the mic and he gave it to you. Let me just – I think we’ve got that. We can show our viewers.

[MSNBC plays wrong clip.]

DONALD TRUMP: New York is a bigger deal. But it’s going to go also. But I have a feeling that a lot of --

VELSHI: All right. I don't have that particular one, but that's what happened. Jeremy gave you the mic so you could ask your second question. Did that go better than the first round?

ALCINDOR: It went a bit better than the first round which was the first time the President lashed out at me and said I was trying to hold him accountable by quoting his words back to him. In this case, of course, I have to say thank you to Jeremy of CNN for giving me the opportunity to ask my second question. We know now that covering President Trump sometimes is like a team sport. We have to have each other's back in the press corps and Jeremy had my back today. I appreciate that. My second question, what do you make of the idea the President has been saying over and over again that the economic impact of this, more people might die because of the economic impact than because of the virus itself. I said, “Which health professionals are telling you that?” I asked Dr. Fauci if he could weigh in. The President didn't directly answer me. He started repeating there would be a lot of mental health issues with the coronavirus, but he didn't say, “Yeah, health care officials are telling me more people are going to commit suicide if they are forced to go back to work or if they can’t go back to work than people who actually have the virus.” So, there’s no actual evidence to what the President is saying in that regard is true.

 

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