President Donald Trump’s unusually short coronavirus press conference Friday perfectly illustrated why they are called “briefings.” Compared to the president’s normal two hours-plus at the mic, his under-six minutes at week’s end couldn’t get any briefer.
Social media, of course, noted Friday’s briefing and the uncharacteristically quiet Trump, who made opening remarks and, without taking a single question, turned it over to Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drugs Administration, and Vice President Mike Pence, causing a number of Trump-related hashtags to start trending.
“Love that he walked out to the question, ‘Mr. President, is now the time for sarcasm?’ #TrumpIsALaughingStock,” filmmaker Morgan Freeman tweeted.
While another Twitter user wrote: “I just noticed #TrumpIsALaughingStock is trending #1 and he is on TWITTER pretty much all day, this must be driving him crazy that he is a world wide buffoon.”
“Trump dodged reporters’ questions like they were draft letters. #TrumpPressConference,” Mark Rahner tweeted.
And “Jeopardy! Champ Ken Jennings wrote, “I would like to announce that when I gave wrong answers on Jeopardy, I was being sarcastic.”
According to four sources who spoke with Axios, plans are in place for the president to stop daily briefings and, when he does have one, they will be noticeably shorter. Multiple sources have reported that several of his advisers have, behind the scenes, been urging him to end the lengthy briefings, which have frequently resulted in him saying something that either he or someone on the coronavirus task force had to later explain, retract or contradict.
An Axios source said that an adviser told the president that he is “overexposed,” and the pressers are not only not helping him, but, in fact, they are hurting his poll numbers. “Seniors are scared,” the source said. “And the spectacle of him fighting with the press isn’t what people want to see.”
Friday’s press conference comes on the heels of Trump wondering out loud Thursday if the use of heat or light or injecting people with disinfectants could cure coronavirus. The incident sparked global outrage and concern that people following the president’s suggestion might get hurt or even die if they ingested bleach or household cleaners.
And Lysol — the manufacturer of cleaning products — put out a statement early Friday morning stating that “under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany blamed the media Friday for the negative attention, saying his comments were taken out of context. The POTUS contradicted that explanation, saying from the Oval Office that he was ” asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen.”
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the coronavirus death toll in the United States surpassed 50,000 Friday, with more than 886,000 total cases of COVID-19. With both its death toll and the total number of COVID-19 cases, the U.S. surpasses all other countries.