Major Cable News Networks Push Back On Airing Trump’s Coronavirus “Lies”
President Donald Trump is appearing in front of live cameras every day to address the coronavirus crisis — after many months of withholding White House press briefings — but cable news networks are increasingly concerned over broadcasting the president’s misinformation and outright lies about the pandemic.
The Daily Beast reported that in private, several staffers at CNN and MSNBC said they would rather not run the coronavirus briefings live, as doing so amplifies Trump’s misinformation about both the virus and possible treatments, potentially risking harm to the public.
An NBC News insider told the publication that the briefings should not be ignored and should be covered in full: “I completely get the criticism of the performance, but let’s remember that the White House press corps absolutely torched the Trump White House for eliminating the daily briefings. Now there’s a high-profile daily press briefing that often includes the president and vice president, so you can’t have it both ways.”
How should the president’s misinformation be handled then? “I think the best way to handle the president in the briefing is that you handle the president like you handle the virus. He has to be contained and quarantined and his falsehoods have to be scrubbed so that they don’t rub off on you,” the person said.
One cable news producer told The Daily Beast they might begin covering the briefings live but cut away if Trump gets out of hand.
“We might take it from the top and then cut away after the first lie, and return when the lies stop,” the producer said.
Others from the network, including MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Rachel Maddow, have been far more public with calls to stop airing Trump’s coronavirus briefings.
During the president’s Monday briefing, Scarborough tweeted that there was “no public benefit to this briefing” and cameras should “cut away,” The Daily Beast noted. Likewise, Maddow said this week during her show: “If it were up to me, and it’s not, I would stop putting those briefings on live TV.”
“Not out of spite, but because it’s misinformation,” she continued. “If the president does end up saying anything true, you can run it as tape. But if he keeps lying like he has been every day on stuff this important, we should, all of us should stop broadcasting it. Honestly, it’s going to cost lives.”
The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan observed that Americans are being cheated with the coronavirus briefings, writing that while the sessions are “ostensibly meant to give the public critical and truthful information about this frightening crisis,” they “are in fact working against that end” due to Trump’s missteps.
“Rather, they have become a daily stage for Trump to play his greatest hits to captive audience members,” she wrote. “They come in search of life-or-death information, but here’s what they get from him instead: Self-aggrandizement… Media-bashing… Exaggeration and outright lies.”