On Monday, President Trump took to the Rose Garden with members of the coronavirus task force and CEOs who are working to provide new testing. CNN cut their coverage just as the CEOs began providing important information about how to get tested, but cut back in in time for questions. That’s where New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi comes in.
New LOW for the media courtesy of New York Magazine's Olivia Nuzzi.
"If an American President loses more Americans over the course 6 weeks than died in the entirety of the Vietnam War, does he deserve to be re-elected?"
Such an appalling framing of a question. pic.twitter.com/v1b3GVsEOW
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) April 27, 2020
Called on by Trump, Nuzzi asked the president if, since 50,000 Americans have died from coronavirus, more than we lost in Vietnam, does Trump deserve to be reelected? I’ll let Ari Fleischer, who knows a thing or two about White House press conferences, have the first word.
It’s clown questions like this that can make the briefing a waste of time. The only point of that question was to provoke. Not learn anything new. Not provide information to viewers. The point was to get under Trump’s skin. Good to see potus rose above and didn’t take the bait. https://t.co/ElNzIKvG36
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) April 27, 2020
Now, Nuzzi claims the question was not simply meant to provoke, but a legitimate inquiry of the commander in chief. If that is the case, what possible answer could she have been expecting or hoping for? Is there some universe in which a chastened Trump says, “Gee, that’s a great point, maybe I should drop out, maybe this whole being president thing was a huge mistake. I’ll just stop now.”?
Nuzzi claims she wasn’t hoping for an angry or annoyed response from Trump — you know, the kind that gets played on CNN and MSNBC over and over and adds to the fame of the reporter who asks it. Probably she was just looking for a meaningful and introspective answer, an acknowledgment of grave mistakes made and a promise to do better. You know, “60 Minutes” at a presser.
Trump handled the question with aplomb. He pointed out that initial projections of death from coronavirus were in the millions and we are nowhere near that, and insisted that a lot of good decisions have been made. He praised his task force. He pointed out that the ventilator shortage emergency of a few weeks ago was conquered with little media attention. He also pointed to great strides in testing that put America far, far ahead of the rest of the world.
Let’s take another look at the question. “If an American president loses more Americans over the course of six weeks than died in the Vietnam War, does he deserve to be reelected?” What exactly is meant by the president losing lives? This is a global pandemic born of a communist Chinese government that lied about it for months with its wingman the World Health Organization. These lives are at Trump’s feet? Really?
In late February, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was urging revelers to descend upon Chinatown and party down. We now know the virus had long been in the country by then. In fact, according to antibody tests, 25 percent of people in New York City have had the virus. Is there some magical world in which Nuzzi imagines the virus would have simply skipped the United States? Should Trump have put lamb’s blood over the door?
This has all become a ridiculous reality TV show, and sure, the president is not without blame for the condition. He clearly enjoys a lot of aspects of it. But so does Olivia Nuzzi and most of the corporate press. They are willing cast members in the awkward episodes. And this one was truly cringeworthy.