MSNBC’s Chris Hayes says President Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings are “dangerous.” He was especially offended, he explained, because at a recent forum “you have the MyPillow guy getting up there talking about reading the Bible.”
It wasn’t clear whether it was MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s enthusiasm for Donald Trump that so alarmed the cable TV host, or the unwelcome mention of the Bible. I’m guessing both.
Either way, he’s right – they are dangerous…to Democrats. Here are five reasons the Left would like to scuttle Trump’s televised White House briefings.
First, the forum allows Trump to speak directly to Americans, unfiltered by the left-wing media. Just as the president has relied on social media over the past few years to circumvent the mainstream press and reach out to voters directly, he can now do that via the crisis updates.
That’s not to say that his appearances are flawless; far from it. They contain far too many instances of Trump tooting his own horn, and also show him sometimes waffling on important issues, such as whether or not to quarantine New York City.
But for all the flaws, the public sees a man unquestionably engaged and energized, relentless in his push for solutions.
Faced with a looming shortage of expensive N95 face masks, Trump wondered why the high-end gear could not be reused. It happened that an Ohio company called Battelle had developed new technology to do just that, but that the EPA had placed strict limits on its use. Trump made a call, or two, and convinced the authorities to relax the restrictions, greatly expanding the availability of much-needed masks. Classic Trump.
The second problem for Democrats it that the briefings are pumping up Trump’s approval ratings. The boost is coming, reports the New York Times, from a “surprising” source — namely, independents and even some Democrats, many of whom did not formerly support the president. The briefings are apparently a revelation to those voters.
The Times interviewed people who think the president is doing the best he can with the limited amount of information available. Those citizens, like millions of others – the briefings are attracting Monday Night Football-type ratings – are looking for information, and comfort. That’s what Trump is giving them.
Clearly, improving polling for Trump among independents is a clear and present danger to Democrats. As always in American politics, races come down to a few states and a large number of independent voters. The candidate who can attract that crowd usually wins.
In February, before the coronavirus craziness began in earnest and in the wake of the impeachment, Trump was already gaining ground with Independents, earning 44 percent of their approval, his highest marks ever.
Democrats made a mess of impeachment, losing the support of fair-minded Americans who saw through Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) covert hearings and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) whimsical decision to delay delivery of the impeachment articles. Many concluded the attack on the president was just more #Resistance, and his support grew.
Third, the briefings on the coronavirus have relegated Democrats’ favorite agenda items to the back page. Clearly, this pandemic is the story of the day, whether or not the president addresses the nation each afternoon. But having a daily one or two-hour session about therapies and equipment deliveries soaks up a lot of the evening news cycle.
That leaves little time to celebrate Greta Thunberg’s latest conquests or the struggles of transgender people, topics that tend to dominate liberal talk shows and newspapers.
On the other hand, emerging from the germ-cloud of this pandemic is increased scrutiny of China. There have been widespread reports that China silenced whistleblowers who tried to alert the world about the virus and who might have saved many lives around the globe.
It is clear that Beijing lied about the outbreak, which began in Wuhan, lied about it being communicable between humans and lied about its dramatic spread. Many think China’s reporting on the virus still cannot be trusted. Dr. Birx, who coordinates the coronavirus response for the White House, said the world’s governments were slow to react to the pandemic in part because “we were missing a significant amount of the data” from Beijing.
Such complaints buttress President Trump’s confrontational approach to China, and his calls for U.S. companies to diversify their supply chains. It makes Joe Biden, who frequently admonishes Trump for his “xenophobic” critiques of Beijing, look foolish. This is a real liability for the Democratic contender come November.
Speaking of November, it is worth remembering that there is a presidential election coming up, though a reminder is called for given the near invisibility of the opposition candidate.
The former vice president’s disappearing act is the fourth reason that Democrats want networks to stop airing the daily briefings. Not only does President Trump occupy center stage, they highlight that Biden occupies no stage at all. Moreover, it is impossible to imagine Biden forcefully commanding the instruments of government; he can barely manage his basement teleprompter.
Finally, liberals want to shut down the president’s TV exposure because the information given out during those briefings is important, like how low-income Americans can access expanded SNAP benefits or how small business owners can apply for a loan to tide them over these tough times.
Viewers are relying on that stream of news; they are communing with their president and the federal government in a way we rarely see. It is not clear how this virus will progress, when we can get back to work or how bad the economy will be over the next several months. But Americans see Trump fighting for them, every day, as hard as humanly possible.
Democrats know that will help him win four more years.
Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company. Follow her on Twitter @lizpeek.
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