The White House briefing on the coronavirus pandemic devolved into a nasty fight on Friday between President Trump and an NBC reporter, underscoring the shortcomings of the press event.
The president has re-established himself as the face of his administration’s response to the pandemic, appearing at every news briefing this week and doing the bulk of the speaking after remaining off camera in favor of Vice President Pence during the early days of the outbreak. But it has come with mixed results.
Trump was commended for his tone earlier this week when ordering Americans to stay away from bars and restaurants and limit gatherings amid the outbreak, and a majority of Americans approve of the president’s handling of the coronavirus, according to a poll released Friday.
But it has also led to an increased number of inaccurate statements about the administration’s efforts that other officials have been forced to clean up.
“That’s nothing but credibility when you have Anthony Fauci standing next to you,” said Doug Heye, a former Republican National Committee communications director, referring to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director. “I think the challenge is where we get lost … in some of the details on the rest of it.”
Trump has used his appearance to address the nation directly while outlining specific steps his administration is taking to deal with the crisis.
He’s been more realistic than in January and February in discussing the challenges of the coronavirus, but he’s tripped himself up sometimes in offering an overly optimistic take on where things stand.