Trump goes into hiding

President Trump unexpectedly leaves the coronavirus task force briefing without answering questions, a day after he asked medical experts to look into the possibility of injecting disinfectant as a treatment for the coronavirus.

Posted: Apr 26, 2020 12:31 PM
Updated: Apr 26, 2020 12:31 PM

A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

It looks like President Trump is going into hiding -- from the press, that is. Facing an avalanche of controversy over his bizarre comments on sunlight and dangerous comments regarding disinfectants, the President held a record short briefing Friday evening (sans Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx), abruptly ending it after 22 minutes of statements without taking any questions from the press.

On CNN, Wolf Blitzer called Trump "chicken" and said he was "probably afraid" of the grilling he was all but certain to face over the "flat lie" he told the day before regarding disinfectants. Later in the night, Anderson Cooper, who argued Trump was guilty of "Soviet"-like spin for pretending his comments were sarcastic during a bill signing, said he "cut and ran" because he knew he'd face hard questions.

CNN and other news organizations, including Axios which broke the news, reported Friday evening that there has been an effort among White House aides to stop holding daily coronavirus briefings. And the schedule released for Saturday shows no briefings scheduled...

"Unsettling"

The move comes after Trump even started receiving criticism from Fox. When he tried to claim that he was merely being sarcastic with his disinfectant remarks, anchors like Neil Cavuto and Bret Baier pushed back. "Wow, that is a little unsettling," said Cavuto. "Got to clarify this. The president was not joking in his remarks yesterday." And Baier said Trump "clearly stepped in it" and did not appear to be joking.

>> Worth noting: While some on Fox pushed back against Trump's remarks, AP's David Bauder pointed out that the network didn't question them on Thursday. The network's news site also questioned whether critics had "twisted" Trump's words. And Trump's biggest defenders on the network still are not challenging him. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if Trump does an on-air chat sooner than later with one of his friends on Fox while he dodges questions from the press...

Drudge brutally mocks

It wasn't just Fox anchors like Cavuto and Baier. The Drudge Report, which has grown critical of Trump, but is still one of the top conservative news websites, brutally mocked Trump on Friday. Take a look at the site's banner headline and image (and pay attention to what the label says). Ouch!

That said, some loyal outlets tried defending

That's not to say that Trump didn't have right-wing outlets rush to defend him. Websites like The Daily Wire, The Gateway Pundit, and Breitbart all published stories trying to convince readers that Trump didn't say what he clearly said. Breitbart's story, written by Joel Pollack, was widely mocked online.

And it appeared by late Friday that it even had crossed a line for Breitbart's senior management. A note was appended to the top of Pollack's story saying it had been "erroneously framed" as a fact check when it should have been labeled opinion. "We apologize for the error, and you are welcome for all the opportunities to dunk on us on Twitter," the note said. Yikes!

>> Of course, worth noting that Breitbart's note came after Trump claimed his remarks were sarcastic, effectively admitting he made them. Which brings me to this point from Ben Collins who tweeted, "Shout out to all of the fringe media outlets who feverishly scrambled all night to claim Trump didn't say to inject disinfectant, or that he was referencing some obscure UV light treatment, only to be kneecapped at noon by the president, who now says he was just kidding..."

White House even tries reassigning seats

Back to Trump's aversion to the press... Before Friday's briefing, the White House attempted to force CNN to swap its front-row seat with the seat reserved at the back of the room for the print pooler. Kaitlan Collins, who was in the room for CNN, said on Twitter that both she and the print pooler, The Blade's Chris Johnson, refused. The briefing ultimately took place with both of them in their original seats.

The WHCA controls the press seating assignments, not the White House, so the officials had no real authority to try to pick and choose where Collins or Johnson sat. But it's worth noting the lengths the White House went to in its effort to implement this move. Johnson said he had been told by a White House official that it wasn't an option and that the Secret Service was involved. The Secret Service later told the WHCA that it was "not involved whatsoever in this effort."

Karl says WHCA will "challenge any effort" to move reporters

I spoke by phone with WHCA President Jon Karl on Friday night. "The bottom line," Karl told me, "is there is a decades long bipartisan tradition of the WHCA determining the seating assignments in the briefing room." He said, "I don't know what the White House is doing, but I know where we stand. We will challenge any effort to pick and choose what outlets are there or the manner in which they are in there."

No comment from the White House

I emailed Kayleigh McEnany and Hogan Gidley multiple times on Friday night asking for comment. Why did the White House try to force a seat swap? Why did an official say the Secret Service was involved in the matter when the Secret Service says it wasn't? I never heard back...

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 483790

Reported Deaths: 6543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1003791583
Ramsey42945800
Dakota36091387
Anoka33200384
Washington21986254
Stearns18703200
St. Louis14746262
Scott13209107
Wright12489115
Olmsted1176188
Sherburne869772
Carver765240
Clay688887
Rice667191
Blue Earth591035
Kandiyohi578474
Crow Wing518381
Chisago496844
Otter Tail481370
Benton444890
Winona416649
Mower402731
Douglas392268
Nobles386547
Goodhue384468
Polk342262
McLeod338349
Beltrami336751
Morrison323547
Lyon312444
Itasca311646
Becker309941
Isanti305354
Carlton299848
Steele299211
Pine281916
Freeborn279823
Nicollet256041
Todd246330
Brown243537
Le Sueur233920
Mille Lacs226747
Cass219124
Waseca208617
Meeker206934
Martin188228
Wabasha18613
Roseau179617
Hubbard160640
Houston157114
Dodge15154
Renville149040
Redwood146527
Fillmore13708
Chippewa135935
Cottonwood134520
Pennington131816
Wadena130220
Faribault122716
Aitkin118733
Sibley117110
Watonwan11708
Rock115614
Kanabec107319
Pipestone101424
Yellow Medicine97617
Murray9438
Jackson93310
Swift87918
Pope8025
Marshall77615
Stevens7398
Lake73518
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68216
Wilkin66910
Koochiching61711
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5052
Grant4908
Norman4768
Unassigned44568
Mahnomen4417
Kittson40821
Red Lake3625
Traverse3025
Lake of the Woods2161
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 361499

Reported Deaths: 5412
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58007549
Linn20606312
Scott18279207
Black Hawk16223290
Woodbury14924211
Johnson1380473
Dubuque13522194
Dallas1132690
Pottawattamie10762143
Story1018945
Warren553474
Clinton542484
Cerro Gordo532781
Webster517687
Marshall495572
Sioux493469
Buena Vista472736
Des Moines457061
Muscatine450691
Wapello4314108
Jasper416266
Plymouth394277
Lee374752
Marion358469
Jones294354
Henry293037
Carroll285348
Bremer279154
Crawford273435
Boone259130
Washington253747
Benton252054
Mahaska223846
Jackson221138
Dickinson217238
Tama212965
Kossuth208154
Clay193125
Hamilton191942
Delaware188639
Winneshiek188427
Buchanan184629
Fayette184335
Page182619
Hardin180839
Wright179531
Harrison179469
Cedar177023
Clayton168053
Butler165831
Mills162820
Floyd162740
Madison154018
Poweshiek153630
Cherokee153535
Hancock146729
Lyon145941
Allamakee144946
Iowa144223
Grundy138830
Appanoose138647
Jefferson138232
Winnebago137730
Calhoun133311
Cass133351
Mitchell130640
Louisa128341
Union126331
Chickasaw124813
Sac124218
Emmet120940
Shelby120433
Franklin118419
Humboldt117225
Guthrie116228
Palo Alto104921
Montgomery103936
Howard102821
Clarke100320
Unassigned9850
Keokuk97829
Monroe93128
Adair91928
Ida90832
Pocahontas85219
Davis82523
Monona81527
Greene76910
Lucas73221
Osceola70314
Worth6947
Taylor66312
Fremont5869
Decatur5749
Van Buren56018
Ringgold51820
Wayne48721
Audubon4869
Adams3264
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