The coronavirus pandemic has made it inconceivable for President Donald Trump to carry the political rallies he loves a lot. However he’s discovered a substitute of types with day by day White Home coronavirus briefings which have rapidly descended into farce.

There have been more than 500 coronavirus deaths in america on Monday alone — probably the most of any single day but. You wouldn’t know that from watching Trump’s briefing, nevertheless. Viewers had been as a substitute handled to a range present that includes absurdly over-the-top deification of the president, quips about his hair, infomercials for quite a few non-public firms, the promotion of unproven medication, and verbal sparring periods with reporters.

The briefing got here a day after Trump posted unsettling tweets bragging about the TV ratings of the press conferences, that are solely mandatory as a result of his authorities bungled its preparations for a lethal pandemic. Whereas Trump as soon as used the briefings to announce new insurance policies, just lately they’ve featured extra misinformation and aggrandizement than information. Monday’s was the least newsworthy convention to this point, and can solely bolster growing arguments that cable networks (and the general public at massive) could be greatest served to disregard them.

“God gave us grace on November 8, 2016, to vary the course we had been on”

Whereas quite a lot of state governors plead with the Trump administration to do more to offer them with ventilators and different wanted medical gear on a big scale, Trump has used the White Home briefings to showcase executives from non-public firms who’re stepping in to fill the function the federal authorities would often soak up responding to a public well being disaster. On Monday, it was MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s flip to obtain the informercial remedy.

Lindell is a Fox Information fixture and staunch Trump backer. Actually, he reportedly informed associates that Trump is pushing him to run for governor in Minnesota. To his credit score, because the coronavirus disaster has worsened, Lindell’s firm has pivoted from pillows to creating masks for well being care staff. That’s praiseworthy, and ostensibly the rationale Trump introduced him to the White Home. What was troubling, nevertheless, was Lindell’s portrayal of the Trump presidency in biblical phrases.

“God gave us grace on November 8, 2016, to vary the course we had been on,” Lindell stated on the finish of his remarks. “God had been taken out of our faculties and lives, a nation had turned its again on God. I encourage you to make use of this time at residence to get again within the phrase. Learn our Bible.”

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“I didn’t know he was going to do this, however he’s a good friend of mine and I admire it,” Trump replied.

Lindell’s feedback got here on the finish of the pre-questions portion of the briefing. As an alternative of leveling with the American folks in regards to the coronavirus, Trump spoke at size about unproven cures (“Bayer has donated one million doses of the chloroquine”), promoted new coronavirus assessments in a QVC-like manner, and complimented himself on his hair’s efficiency within the Rose Backyard wind (“My hair is blowing around. And it is mine”).

Issues didn’t get any much less farcical when it got here time for Trump to take questions.

“I do know South Korea higher than anyone”

Among the many first questions Trump took was one from the ultra-sycophantic One America News Network (OAN). As they’ve completed in earlier briefings, on Monday an OAN staffer served up a loaded query, on this case asking Trump to speak a few false equivalency she drew between coronavirus deaths and abortions. Trump, to his credit score, didn’t take the bait and principally dodged the query.

One of many extra informative moments of the briefing got here a short while later, when Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the Nationwide Institute of Allergy and Infectious Ailments, took the mic to right the report in regards to the hope Trump expressed that the coronavirus maybe may not flare up once more within the fall, even when the outbreak we’re at present coping with is introduced underneath management earlier than then.

“Actually, I’d anticipate that that might really occur, due to the diploma of transmissibility,” Fauci stated, instantly after Trump stated, “I hope it doesn’t occur.”

The occasion wound down with Trump sparring with two of his longtime media foes — Yamiche Alcindor of PBS NewsHour and Jim Acosta of CNN. Acosta requested Trump what his message is to people who find themselves upset in regards to the truth he spent weeks downplaying the coronavirus as a substitute of getting ready for it, however Trump dismissed the query after which went on the assault.

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“It’s folks such as you and CNN that say issues like that, that, uh, it’s why folks simply don’t need to hearken to CNN anymore,” Trump stated. “You can ask a traditional query … I don’t need panic within the nation. I might trigger panic a lot better than even you. I’d make you appear like a minor league participant. However you recognize what, I don’t need to do this.”

Trump concluded, “As an alternative of asking a nasty, snarky query like that, it is best to ask an actual query, and aside from that I’m going to go to anyone else.”

(On Tuesday morning, Trump retweeted a video of his trade with Acosta posted by one in every of his marketing campaign staffers together with the caption, “BOOM … Trump obliterates CNN.”)

After taking a query asking him to clarify the accusations he made the day earlier than about nurses and New York officers misappropriating medical gear — “I expressed what was informed to me by an incredible energy within the enterprise,” Trump said, citing an unnamed supply even if he’s attacked studies for citing unnamed sources as recently as Saturday — the president referred to as on Alcindor.

Alcindor requested Trump a simple, honest query about coronavirus testing.

“You stated a number of instances that america has ramped up testing, however america continues to be not testing per capita as many individuals as different nations like South Korea,” Alcindor stated. “Why is that?”

As an alternative of answering it, nevertheless, Trump lied — “It’s very a lot on par,” he claimed, falsely — after which for the second-straight day lectured Alcindor about how she ought to do her job.

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“I do know South Korea higher than anyone,” Trump stated. “Are you aware how many individuals are in Seoul? Are you aware how huge town of Seoul is? 38 million folks. That’s larger than something now we have.”

Trump’s declare was approach off. The inhabitants of Seoul is about 10 million.

Trump went on to admonish Alcindor that “you have to be saying congratulations as a substitute of asking a very snarky query,” earlier than abruptly ending the briefing.

These all-style, no-substance briefings are particularly off-key amid a lethal pandemic

Whereas officers like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz present day by day coronavirus briefings which can be stuffed with info and bulletins of significance to their constituents, Trump’s have devolved into spectacle. It seems cable networks are belatedly waking as much as this — CNN cut away from Trump’s newest briefing as quickly as Lindell took the stage.

As my colleague Matthew Yglesias has argued, to the extent they’re attempting to tell viewers in regards to the coronavirus as a substitute of simply entertaining them, cable networks ought to in all probability cease broadcasting them reside, and as a substitute spotlight the newsworthy components later. On days like Monday, that might imply kind of ignoring them altogether.

Trump craves consideration, and with political rallies off the desk for the foreseeable future, the briefings present his day by day repair. They supply him with a few of his largest TV audiences to this point — a truth not massively stunning given public curiosity in a pandemic that has put their households in danger, however one which Trump has bragged about nonetheless.

However the briefings have change into more and more rally-like, with wild claims and visitor appearances. And barely has the content material of the Trump Present mirrored a president as out of contact with actuality because it did on Monday.

The information strikes quick. To remain up to date, observe Aaron Rupar on Twitter, and skim extra of Vox’s policy and politics coverage.

The publish Monday’s White House coronavirus briefing proved they’ve become mini Trump rallies appeared first on Vox.

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