President Donald Trump again attacked the media at his latest coronavirus press briefing, but the trigger was a question about a tweet he sent earlier on Wednesday afternoon, claiming that the media wants the economy to falter to hurt his chances at reelection.
Trump tweeted, “The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success. The real people want to get back to work ASAP. We will be stronger than ever before!”
But that drew questions among journalists on whether his pronouncement — that he wants to lift social distancing guidelines and “reopen” the country by Easter — is based on his own political considerations.
At the briefing, CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid asked, “Is this Easter timeline based on your political interests?”
“The media would like to see me do poorly in the election,” Trump responded.
Then Reid interjected, “Lawmakers and economists on both sides of the aisle have said that reopening the country by Easter is not a good idea. What is that plan based on?”
“I think there are certain people who would like it not to open so quickly,” Trump said. “I think there are certain people who would like it to do financially poorly because they feel that would be very good as far as defeating me at the polls. I don’t think that is so, but I think it is so that there are a lot of people in your profession that would like that to happen.”
He went on, telling Reid, “I think it is very clear that there are people in your profession that write fake news — you do.”
He added, “They would love to see me, for whatever reason, because we have done one hell of a job. No one has done the job that we have done. And it is lucky that you have this group here right now for this problem. Or you wouldn’t even have a country left.”
After Trump left the briefing, Vice President Mike Pence and other members of the coronavirus task force continued to answer questions. CNN and MSNBC eventually switched away from the briefings while Fox News stayed with it.
The briefings have generated large audiences for the news networks. According to Nielsen, 11 million viewers watched Tuesday’s briefing on the three news channels, with Fox News drawing 5.5 million, CNN garnering 3.1 million and MSNBC with 2.4 million. Those figures do not include the audiences watching on broadcast networks and web platforms.