To the great consternation of many a left-leaning American, the latest polls from Gallup, Reuters/Ipsos, and Economist/YouGov all show the president’s job approval at 49%, crushing the dreams of those who hoped Coronavirus would finish what the Russia and Ukraine investigations never could. Claims of misinformation aside, could this be the real reason biased news outlets have decided to stop covering Trump’s briefings?
No Love from the Left
Love him or hate him, there’s no denying the man is a ratings goldmine. According to Nielsen, 12.2 million people watched the president’s Monday briefing on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC – that’s up there with Monday Night Football. And that doesn’t cover the millions more who watched via ABC, CBS, NBC, or online streaming sites. But is that a good enough reason for media outlets to cover him? That’s the question The New York Times asked recently – a question answered by a Seattle area NPR affiliate, KUOW, with a resounding “no.”
The Washington radio station cited “a pattern of false or misleading information provided that cannot be fact checked in real time” as the reason to dump Trump. And they’re not alone. The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple calls the decision wise, hinting at Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC that they could learn a thing or two if only they would pay attention. MSNBC and CNN, it seems, took the hint, as staffers of both networks have argued the case against airing Trump’s pressers, saying it likely amplifies the spread of misinformation. The president’s son, Eric, took to Twitter to bemoan the trend:
NBC, CNN and others say they will likely stop broadcasting @realDonaldTrump virus briefings. This is truly sick in the time of national emergency and once again tells you everything you need to know about the #MSM. #JournalismIsDead
— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) March 26, 2020
Buying into the Bias
While the media outlets claim this is all in the name of furthering the truth, the timing is suspicious. The president – who, you may recall, is in the middle of a re-election campaign – is enjoying impressive approval numbers, including amongst many Democrats. He has garnered bipartisan support from both houses of Congress in his handling of the Coronavirus crisis. Even Joe Biden – the man who launched his presidential campaign from the platform that Trump is terrible for the country and must be removed at all costs – has said the president is doing a good job during the emergency and expressed hope for his continued success.
The track record of these outlets was already disappointing, thanks to their backfired attempts to bury Trump in negative coverage from the moment he first announced his candidacy. They couldn’t stop him from being elected, they couldn’t get him impeached, and now it seems they can’t get him blamed for COVID-19. How else can they prevent his re-election? Well, if nonstop negative coverage helped Trump win the White House in 2016, perhaps refusing to publish his pressers will cost him the win in 2020. These regular updates have been called by many in the media little more than Trump campaign events, so this move should come as no surprise.
What about the claim that the briefings are chock full of lies? The Associated Press took it upon themselves to fact check the president, to once and for all prove either that Trump is a liar or that the anti-Trump media is simply biased. You can likely guess how they ruled on this issue.
, decided to fact check the fact-checkers – and found them woefully wanting. “AP introduced inaccuracy when the writers conflated two quotations, losing precision and making the single quotation wrong,” he wrote. “Additionally, they did not put President Trump’s statements in context and created an inaccurate perception for the reader of what the president said.” When Dave lined up what the AP attributed to the president beside what Trump actually said and the historical data that backs up his claim, the discrepancies – and the AP’s bias – became glaringly clear.
Why are these media outlets really pushing back against covering the president? Either to try to oust him from the White House in November or perhaps out of pure spite, it would seem.
Setting aside the increasingly common conflict of profits vs political bias, isn’t there a far more compelling reason for the press to report the actions and words of Donald Trump than whether or not they think he’s honest or what kind of ratings he can draw? He is the president of the United States, and almost everything he says and does – certainly anything said during a media briefing – is a matter of national history. What does it say about our press that they would refuse to report on the president during a time of national emergency?
Read more from James Fite.
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