Behold the perils of transparency. When it comes to the press, President Trump is the most generously available occupant of the White House since the invention of television. It is almost like the Trump presidency has been one continuous, never-ending live press conference. This is what you get when you elect a reality star to the White House. Such transparency comes with pitfalls, to be sure. Mr. Trump’s public musing on live television last week about using disinfectant and sunshine to cure victims of the Wuhan virus was one of the more unforgettable moments in presidential history. Perhaps it cut a little both ways. It revealed a fearless chief executive willing to think outside the box, someone, so comfortable in his own skin he is willing to ask even the most insanely stupid questions. On the flip-side, it also showed the leader of the free world in the grips of a global pandemic willing to think so far outside the box — someone so comfortable in his own skin — that he asks one of his top scientific public health experts what she thinks of chugging Lysol and chewing light bulbs to combat the Chinese Communist Party disease. Dr. Deborah Birx, ever the consummate professional, assured the world that Mr. Trump is a guy who likes to think through problems out loud. It brings to mind the old non-Chinese proverb that it is better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt. The really funny thing about that little train wreck is that it was only amazing to people who actually watched it with their own eyes. The national political media has so thoroughly befouled themselves that anybody who heard about it later just assumed it was yet another false, hate-filled smear by the lunatic press. “Fake news,” as somebody calls it. However you interpreted that scene, the moment was yet another exercise in full transparency from this White House. From the moment he took office, Mr. Trump has endured relentless accusations that he would shut down all access from the White House press, many of whom he calls “the enemy of the people.” “The Demise of the White House Press Briefing Under Trump,” blared the New York Times. “2018 was the year the White House press briefings died.” “Trump kills White House press briefing, 50 years after it was born.” So, what exactly was that last week where Mr. Trump opined about the miracles of disinfectant and sunlight? For that matter, what are all those other endless briefings he has hosted every night since this pandemic spawned — supposedly — from a wet market in Wuhan? The University of California at Santa Barbara used to keep track of press briefings held by presidents going back to Harry S. Truman. President George W. Bush held more than any of the previous five presidents. Even Mr. Bush probably never logged a press face-off that lasted longer than two hours — a routine feat for Mr. Trump. But the University of California conveniently quit posting updated numbers of presidential press briefings in March 2018, less than halfway through Mr. Trump’s first term. Once again reaching new depths of shameless depravity, the press is now crying uncle. “Stop Airing Trump’s Press Conferences Live,” pleased The Atlantic, a magazine website. Perhaps there is something, after all, to this whole “fake news,” “enemy of the people” thing after all.
Indeed.. Thanks to Charles Hurt for calling out the “fake news” media like that. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @charleshurt on Twitter 🙂