“We hear from a lot of people who see these briefings as sort of ‘happy talk’ briefings,” Acosta said. “And some of the officials don’t paint as rosy picture of what is happening around the country. If you look at some of these questions — do we have enough masks? No. Do we have enough tests? No. Do we have enough PPE? No.”
Trump then interrupted him. “Why would you say that? The answer is yes. I think the answer is yes.”
For the next five minutes, he sparred with Acosta over the notion that the U.S. does not have enough of the medical supplies. Trump said that there was now enough supply of ventilators, for instance, that other countries are asking the U.S. for them.
But Acosta tried to cite news coverage of doctors and other medical officials who have appeared on the network complaining of scarcities.
Trump interjected, “A lot of it is fake news.”
As Acosta went on, Trump said, “Well yeah, depending on your air they are always going to say that because otherwise you are not going to put them on.”
Trump challenged Acosta’s characterization of the briefings as “happy talk.”
“This is not happy talk. Maybe it is happy talk for you,” Trump said. “It is not happy talk for me. We’re talking about the greatest economy in the world, one day I have to close it off. And we did the right thing because maybe it would have been two million people died.”
He added, “This is sad talk. … These are the saddest news conferences that I have ever had. I don’t like doing them. You know why? Because I am talking about death.”
Earlier on Friday, Trump boasted about the TV audiences for the coronavirus news conferences, writing, “Because the T.V. Ratings for the White House News Conference’s are the highest, the Opposition Party (Lamestream Media), the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats &, of course, the few remaining RINO’S, are doing everything in their power to disparage & end them. The People’s Voice!”
Trump also told Acosta of having to face the decision of whether to “reopen” the U.S. economy, perhaps after the current social distancing guidelines end on April 30, and having to weigh whether it is the right time to do so.
He later said that he faces what he called “the biggest decision of my life because I have to say, “OK, let’s go. This is what we’re going to do.”
By the end of the five minutes, he chided Acosta for even asking the question.
“You shouldn’t be asking that kind of question,” he said. “You should say, ‘You know what, it’s been really incredible what’s been happening.'”
Trump has been aware not just the ratings for his briefings but the reaction to them.
The briefing was one of Trump’s longest since the coronavirus crisis started. Less than 24 hours earlier, he appeared for only about 20 minutes at an evening briefing, as even some of his supporters and allies have suggested that they be truncated.
As Friday’s session went past 90 minutes, Trump turned to the reporters gathered and asked them whether he should continue.
He decided to keep taking questions but told the reporters, “You’re not going to criticize me that the conference was too long? You know … yesterday I left short. [They say] ‘It was too short.’ If I stay too long they say it was too long. Some day we are going to get it just right.”
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