Politico | Trump skips coronavirus briefing amid fears of overexposure
- In a tweet, the president criticised the media’s ‘hostile questions’ and said it wasn’t ‘worth the time and effort’.
This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Stephanie Murray on politico.com on April 25, 2020.
US President Donald Trump skipped his daily coronavirus briefing on Saturday, amid concerns among Republicans and White House advisers that his near-constant presence on television is diminishing his standing and could sabotage his re-election campaign.
Trump, who has been criticised for a series of missteps in his handling of the coronavirus crisis, has seen public approval of his performance during the pandemic drop in recent weeks and his poll numbers slip in key battleground states. Some aides are urging him to shorten his lengthy daily briefing and leave medical advice to the experts.
Those concerns came to a head on Thursday, when the president floated the idea that ingesting disinfectants could work as a coronavirus treatment. Trump’s unfounded medical advice was met with near-universal outcry – he faced criticism from medical professionals and even the manufacturers of cleaning products.
“Reminder: Lysol disinfectant and hygiene products should only be used as directed and in line with usage guidelines,” the Lysol brand wrote on Twitter following the president’s comments. “We must be clear that under no circumstances should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body.”
Trump sought to walk back his claims the following day, saying he was being “sarcastic” when he suggested treating the virus with disinfectants, and that he heard a “very nice rumour” that heat and sunlight could kill the virus.
On Friday, Trump changed his approach, holding a briefing where he spoke for less than 30 minutes and took no questions. By Saturday, the president had gone dark. The White House coronavirus task force met privately but did not hold a briefing.
Although he wasn’t visible in the briefing room, Trump was active online on Saturday. The president tweeted that he was “not happy” with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who allowed some businesses to open in his state this weekend, including nail salons and gyms. Trump has voiced support for protesters in a number of states who advocated for the reopening of businesses amid the pandemic, but he broke with Kemp earlier last week and suggested Georgia should stay closed.
“If the Wall Street Journal ‘Editorial’ writers had called, as they should have, they would have easily found that I was ‘NOT happy with the Georgia Governor on Tuesday night.’ You said the opposite, and got it wrong as you often do!” Trump wrote online, apparently referring to a Journal editorial Friday evening that criticised Trump’s “capricious expressions of presidential pique”.
The president also tweeted about the United States ventilator supply, coronavirus testing numbers, and the professional wrestler Triple H. While Trump avoided the briefing room on Saturday, his comments about ways to treat the virus – and the resulting fallout – were still on his mind.
“Was just informed that the Fake News from the Thursday White House Press Conference had me speaking & asking questions of Dr. Deborah Birx. Wrong, I was speaking to our Laboratory expert, not Deborah, about sunlight etc. & the CoronaVirus. The Lamestream Media is corrupt & sick!” Trump tweeted.
He then offered an explanation for his absence from the podium Saturday.
“What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately. They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort!” he wrote in another tweet.