MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and CNN’s Don Lemon each spoke out against their networks decision to run Donald Trump’s coronavirus press briefings live, as critics contend that they have provided a platform for the president to trumpet dubious claims about his response and even to spread misinformation as a time of crisis.
“They have morphed into something akin to Trump rallies without the crowds,” Hayes said. “The briefings are where he casts his failures in the most positive light. Yesterday the man who initially dismissed the coronavirus threat — remember we have all heard it time and time again — said that if 100,000 persons died from the virus, he and his team have done a quote, very good job.”
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow already has said that if it were up to her, she would stop carrying the briefings live.
Later, CNN’s Don Lemon said, “I am not sure, if you want to be honest, that we should carry that live. I think we should run snippets. I think we should do it afterward and get the pertinent points to the American people, because he’s never, ever going to tell you the truth.” He said that the briefings have become Trump’s new Apprentice, where he “wants his base to think the media’s being mean to him and they’re attacking him.”
Both networks, along with Fox News, have been carrying the press briefings almost in their entirety, while broadcast networks have occasionally done special reports. But CNN and MSNBC have cut away at certain moments of the briefings. CNN turned to its own anchors on Monday when Trump brought a succession of CEOs to the stage to offer him praise and outline what they have been doing to assist in the response to the pandemic. Among those who spoke was longtime Trump supporter Michael Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow, which is making face masks.
“It’s obviously above my pay grade. I don’t make the call that we take them or not,” Hayes said. “But it seems crazy to me that everyone’s still taking them when you got the MyPillow guy getting up there, talking about reading the Bible.”
White House officials have criticized outlets that have declined to carry the briefing live. Last week, spokesman Judd Deere called it “pretty disgraceful” that CNN and MSNBC cut away from the briefing, which also feature Vice President Mike Pence and members of the president’s coronavirus task force.