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Trump and Media Butting Heads at Coronavirus Briefings

President Donald Trump seemed to get into arguments with reporters at the past few coronavirus task force briefings.

Patrick Murray, Director of the Polling Institute, stated that President Trump’s back and forth with the press is a deeply ingrained pattern now. “It plays well to his base but turns off most voters,” he said. “The problem is in the midst of a global crisis, the public has a desire to unify behind a leader. Trump’s continued attempts to focus on perceived enemies has cost him a lot of good will at the same time we see the poll ratings for governors and other world leaders jump in a positive direction.”

Murry continued to explain Trump’s claims are not helping him gain more advocates. “Trump’s inability or unwillingness to change his tone has cost him a big opportunity for gaining public support during this crisis,” said Murry.

Stephen J. Chapman, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Political Science, believes that this is a continuation of the president’s strategy with the press. “His constant need to control the messaging is apparent in the daily news conferences. This is illustrated in his attempts to redefine the timeline of his comments on the virus, pushing unproven medications, and at times being at odds with his medical experts,” said Chapman. “Any attempt by the press to highlight these facts has been met with forceful denials or ad hominem attacks on some journalists.”

In an interview on Brian Kilmeade Show, Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) stated that during this tough time, the country must come together. Crenshaw also added that journalists are going into the press meetings asking the president ‘gotcha’ questions which contributes to the “outrage culture.”

Chapman discussed how there is a noticeable opposite approach with certain news outlets, such as One America News (OAN) Network, who tend to offer more favorable coverage of the president. “The end-game of this type of strategy is to shape public opinion,” he said. “Trump is already receiving a rally around the flag effect, which is common during times of uncertainty for presidents to see a bump in approval, but he is attempting to further capitalize on it.”

He explained that these strategies were nothing new for Trump for two reasons. “First, he rarely offers traditional press briefings/conferences, so the pandemic is offering more access for media outlets. Second, many people are home and watching the press conferences on a daily basis, so it’s much more in the spotlight than normal,” said Chapman.