The Good News: Covid-19 seems to be more widespread, but less lethal than earlier indicated.
The Bad News: The good news is lost amid media stridency. “Instead,” writes Victor Davis Hanson, “the public gets 20-second distortions in the evening news that Trump wants us to drink Lysol.”
In two paragraphs reporting on the president’s remarks, the New York Times leads readers to believe the newspaper is quoting the president at enough length to provide accurate context, Andrew C. McCarthy reports in NRO.
The excerpt implies that Trump was proposing ultraviolet light as a remedy. But he wasn’t, continues Mr. McCarthy.
(Trump) was relating a conversation he had had with Undersecretary Bryan about possible testing that DHS might do. Omitted from the Times’s report (but included in the Guardian’s) is the sentence the president spoke right before the excerpt, which places it in context:
“So I asked Bill [Bryan] a question that probably some of you are thinking of, if you’re totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting… So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light.”
Plainly, Trump was saying that he raised this as a question that, he supposed, would naturally occur to scientists, and that he found intriguing.
Trump Retaliatory in His Rebuffs
Trump gets bogged down into long, back-and-forth jousts with the touché Washington press corps, argues VDH.
His impromptu skills, honed both as president and in his years on television, usually ensure him tactical victories.
Fine. Most Americans don’t especially like the Washington press corps. So they don’t mind them earning the repartee that their rude provocation deserves.
Carefully Edited Sound Bites: Drink Lysol
Anyone who watches the entire press conference sees the context, and why the president is legitimately upset with the constant “gotcha” attempts while the nation has more serious concerns. But few in the nation do watch all of them.
Instead the public gleans bits and pieces of them as carefully edited sound bites delivered by print and television media.
The result is that winning against a provocative Jim Acosta rarely delivers a strategic victory. Trump’s retorts are cut and pasted into network news sound bites designed to make him sound petty at a time of national uncertainty and indeed panic.
The media’s ploy is trying to entrap Doctors Fauci and Birx in a form of “adult-in-the-room” scientific putdown of the “clueless” president at their side. Give the good doctors their five minutes, “but only their five minutes,” recommends VDH.
Trump should shift some of the medical focus to include a rotating cast of other experts. And he should emphasize that, in making decisions as president, he takes account of all sorts of inputs beside medical modeling and theories about the trajectory of the virus.
Return to Trumpian Paradigm
In this age of Skype and Zoom, why not include reporters from the heartland and rural America? They would give balance in their concerns beyond those of the New York and Washington corridor.
Indeed, perhaps outsiders, reporting from different states, might even offer more light than heat about how the nation assesses, and wishes to help, the Eastern Seaboard?
Include Media from Fly Over Country
In the interest of the nation, first, and then of the president, President Trump should diversify the press conferences. He could also shorten them, keeping the schedule tight. At present they have become mind-numbing formulas by a media with little or no expertise other than in playing the game of “I told you so” and “I got you.”
The Good News Lost Amid Media Distortions
The virus seems to be more widespread but less lethal, and here earlier, than once imagined, while its infectiousness is nearing its peak if not descending in many places. But this good news is lost amid the media stridency. Instead, the public gets 20-second distortions in the evening news that Trump wants us to drink Lysol.