“What do you say to Americans that are scared?” Alexander asked.
“I’d say you are a terrible reporter,” Trump responded. “I think that’s a very nasty question, and I think that’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people.” He then blasted NBC News and its parent company, Comcast, in general.
After his outburst, Trump then called on another reporter in the room — who happened to be Sean Spicer, his former press secretary. Spicer now hosts a show for Newsmax.
Later, other correspondents asked Trump why he was going after a journalist at a briefing during a national crisis, and what message it sent to the rest of the world. “I think Peter is not a good journalist when it comes to fairness,” Trump said after being pressed by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.
Earlier on Friday, NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack announced that one of its employees, Larry Edgeworth, died after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Alexander had also asked Trump about whether he was giving people “false hope” because of his tendency to put a “positive spin” on thing, including in the use of a drug already on the market to treat the virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci said that there was “no magic drug,” while Trump said that he disagreed and “let’s see if it works. It might and it might not.”
NBC and other broadcast networks covered the briefing in a special report. Later, on MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell talked to Alexander about the exchange.
“In TV terms, we call this a softball,” he said. “I was trying to provide the president an opportunity to reassure the millions of Americans, members of my own family and my neighbors and my community and plenty of people sitting at home, this was his opportunity to do that, to provide a positive or uplifting message.”
He added, “I think it does sort of reveal a frustration, perhaps an anxiety of his political prospects, about a situation that is hard to keep in control as we witnessed it continue to spiral at this time.”
In a statement, Lack said that Alexander “is an outstanding reporter. His line of questioning at today’s White House briefing was fair, straightforward and necessary.”
On CNN, John King said that Alexander posed a”100 percent legitimate question.”
“It was striking that this — forgive — bullshit attack on ‘fake news’ came just moments after the Secretary of State said the American people need to be careful about where they get their information and go to sources they can trust.”
Reinstated as the coronavirus outbreak became a crisis, the daily press briefings also are becoming daily viewing habits for many Americans, forced to work from home as part of social distancing efforts. One of the bigger stories on Friday was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced restrictions being placed on the U.S.-Mexican border.
But at one point during the briefing, Trump referred to the State Department as part of the deep state. On Twitter, a number of users keyed in on the comment and the reaction to the comment from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
PREVIOUSLY: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that non-essential travel between the U.S. and Mexico will be restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Travel restrictions on the U.S.-Canadian border already were announced this week.
Pompeo said that the restrictions will not apply to cargo.
At the White House daily briefing on the coronavirus, Pompeo also warned of misinformation being spread about the virus, including reports of “lockdowns” in the U.S. and that the virus originated in the U.S. military.
“Every American, including people all around the world, should ensure that where they turn for information is a reliable source and not a bad actor trying to create and flow information that they know is wrong,” Pompeo said.
Sitting among the press seats at the briefing was Sean Spicer, Trump’s former White House press secretary. He launched a new show for Newsmax this month. Their seat in the briefing room is shared with right wing news outlet One American News Network.
Its chief White House correspondent, Chanel Rion, triggered an outcry among other reporters after she posed a question to President Donald Trump on Wednesday in which she claimed that the major left-wing news media, even in this room, have teamed up with Chinese communist party narratives” in their coverage of the coronavirus. She once reported on a conspiracy theory that the virus was created in a North Carolina lab. Many scientists have concluded that the virus was not man made.