Mar 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump touts press briefing "ratings" as U.S. coronavirus case surge

Trump
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump sent about a half-dozen tweets on Sunday touting the high television ratings that his coronavirus press briefings have received, selectively citing a New York Times article that compared them to "The Bachelor" and "Monday Night Football."

Why it matters: The president has been holding daily press briefings in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic was declared, but news outlets have struggled with how to cover them live — as Trump has repeatedly been found to spread misinformation and contradict public health officials.

  • Meanwhile, American deaths due to the coronavirus have topped 2,300 as of Sunday, while cases nationwide have reached over 132,000.

What he's saying: Trump's Twitter thread on Sunday inaccurately quoted the New York Times article, omitting mentions of the media battle over whether to cover his briefings.

  • The Times' article begins: "President Trump is a ratings hit, and some journalists and public health experts say that could be a dangerous thing. Since reviving the daily White House briefing — a practice abandoned last year by an administration that bristles at outside scrutiny — Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news."
  • Trump's tweets skip the nuance, instead shortening to: "President Trump is a ratings hit. Since reviving the daily White House briefing Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news."

Trump's thread goes on to cite more favorable figures from the Times article, including that Fox News alone on Monday "attracted 6.2 million viewers for the president’s briefing."

He added in a separate tweet:

Of note: Trump has repeatedly attacked the New York Times as "fake news," and his Trump campaign sued the newspaper in February for libel.

Go deeper: Trump's coronavirus briefings see big audiences. Some argue that's bad

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