I have watched nearly every Corona Task Force presser. I took a day off after the Lysol ridiculousness to lower my blood pressure. However, I find the briefings to be very informative. The president gives an overview and then introduces members of the Task Force to update on specific items. The media hates these forums, because they can’t control the information that is available to the public. This is a great reason to keep airing them.
The most tedious portion of the pressers are the questions from the members of the White House Press Corps. They are political reporters trying to ingest health, science and business information. Either their employers do not pay for internet access, or they are deliberately obtuse.
Their questions are often uninformed, redundant or ones that have already been answered in the course of the presser. I can’t count the number of times Vice President Mike Pence has said the response is “locally driven, state-managed and federally supported.” President Trump has repeatedly said the nation’s governors are responsible for the activities within their states. And if poor Dr. Birx has to explain the public/private partnership for testing one more time, I may have to scream.
I have floated the idea that the political reporters need to leave, and media outlets should be sending their health, science and business reporters. These staff members make their living breaking down complex and technical concepts and putting them into layman’s terms. They would also by their very focus have a better command of the information being presented and ask better questions.
However, we all know that is not the goal. It is about getting a sound bite that can be framed in a way to trash the president or make the response look inadequate. Then there is always the alternating ‘Trump is an authoritarian’/’Trump needs to be more of an authoritarian’ merry-go-round. It’s exhausting.
That is why I love this idea from Nashville musician and filmmaker Jake Coco:
I say we start doing these briefings survivor style. Every evening American citizens can vote by phone and have the weakest journalist with the worst questions booted, making room for real questions to be asked
— Jake Coco (@jakecoco) April 24, 2020
Responses included adding the “Gong Show” gong, calling the game “The Biggest Loser” and following the plot of Naked and Afraid instead. Of course, Jim ‘Look at Me’ Acosta seemed to be the crowd favorite to be booted first. I am almost certain I would be voting Yamiche Alcindor off the island first, but it would be a difficult choice.
As a Registered Nurse with fifteen years of completely different professional experience in the manufacturing and service industries, I long to tell the stories of the medical and industrial innovations that are happening right now. Whether it’s the machinists who are retrofitting and expanding new manufacturing lines in record time or the scientific minds that are pioneering treatments or the minds behind the supply chain innovations that are delivering millions of pieces of equipment to hospitals across the country, these are the stories that need telling.
The people in the briefing room want you to worry about the exponential spread of the virus. Even when the data doesn’t bear it out. What Americans need to be reminded of is the exponential nature of American innovation and resolve. That this is being ignored is journalistic malpractice in the best case. However, it certainly looks more like partisan political activism to the average viewer. Which is the absolute worst-case scenario.