Can the president “hijack” his own press briefing? CNN says yes, he can!
CNN and MSNBC both decided to stop airing President Trump’s daily coronavirus press briefings about a week ago. The president is always flanked by his coronavirus task force team in these briefings, and Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci have become household names and faces as they update the nation on the latest news regarding the virus and progress in fighting it.
CNN instead provides commentary from its Trump-hating talking heads to its dwindling audience about the raucous pressers. CNN is in tough straits now that no one is flying, airports are closed and with them, the bulk of its audience went away. Providing edited clips and commentary allows the network to simply make stuff up, as Anderson Cooper did Monday night when he accused the president of “hijacking” the press conference he organizes and leads.
.@andersoncooper calls today's coronavirus briefing a “hijacking of the task force press conference by a President determined to rewrite the history of his early and reprehensibly irresponsible response.”
“This is not normal and it matters because this is life or death,” he adds pic.twitter.com/gMg4YfYeDH
— CNN (@CNN) April 7, 2020
Trump uses these briefings to cap off the day with news about the fight against the virus, so Cooper’s take is more than a bit like accusing a football coach of hijacking his halftime locker room talk. It’s already his. No need to “hijack” it.
In the same briefing Monday, a reporter asked President Trump if he was “cooperating with China” to fight the virus. That’s a rich question, given the fact that China hasn’t cooperated with anyone else. It lied in the early, critical weeks and punished the doctors who sought to sound the alarm. It has also hoarded medical equipment paid for by other countries, and delivered very faulty gear to Europe in the midst of the crisis. China has tried to pin the blame on the United States for the virus’ emergence, while the possibility remains that the invisible menace escaped from a Wuhan research lab. That’s what the government of the United Kingdom increasingly suspects, according to reports.
So, the question had an odd angle to it. Trump was quick to quip “Do you work for China? Are you with a newspaper? Who are you with?”
The reporter replied that she worked for “Phoenix TX,” a “privately-owned company,” insinuating no, she doesn’t work for China. Phoenix TV sounds like it’s based in right-leaning Arizona.
But Phoenix TV, according to a Freedom House report in 2017, is part of China’s “long shadow” across the world outside its borders.
Phoenix TV, the second most widely available Chinese-language television station on cable in the United States. Owned by a former military officer with close ties to Beijing officials, Phoenix TV’s coverage is typically favorable to the CCP. Moreover, over the past two years, it has been used as an outlet for airing televised confessions by various detained CCP critics, most notably all five Hong Kong booksellers abducted by Chinese security forces in late 2015. Such coverage is perhaps not coincidental, considering that CCTV reportedly holds a 10 percent stake in Phoenix.
The Hoover Institution says that “Quasi-official Phoenix TV (鳳凰衛視), a global TV network with links to the PRC’s Ministry of State Security and headquartered in Hong Kong with branches around the world, including the United States, also has a substantial presence on all the major social media platforms in the United States.”
So yes, the reporter does “work for China.” Trump’s instincts were dead-on. And now Americans who watch channels that air his coronavirus update briefings know not to trust anything coming out of Phoenix TV. Or CNN.