Trump commits ultimate TV sin with daily briefings — he's boring
He's overexposed and won't stop talking
Forever addicted to being in front of television cameras, Trump's strategy of hosting nonstop White House briefings on the pandemic has sparked a heated media debate about whether the marathon sessions of lies and misinformation ought be carried live on TV every day. (Hint: They absolutely should not be.) Void of empathy and human emotion beyond Trump's endless desire for political revenge, the news-free briefings now drag on day after day, as Trump rambles through disjointed commentaries about an array of unrelated topics.
Instead of enhancing his stature, the briefings confirm that Trump is guilty of committing that mortal TV sin — he's boring. And overexposed, hosting more than two dozen pandemic briefings to date. Even his Republican allies think it's a problem.
Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal last week mocked the Trump briefings as being a "waste," and counseled, "If Mr. Trump wants to make his briefings more helpful to the country, here’s our advice. Make them no more than 45 minutes, except on rare occasions." Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is urging Trump to cut the briefings back to once a week, Republican Congresswoman Susan Brooks of Indiana complained, "they’re going on too long," former Fox News anchor Brit Hume suggested Trump start talking less, and former George W. Bush White House staffer Tony Fratto admits, "no one needs two-hour briefings."
This is what happened in the fall of 2018 during the midterm election season when Trump decided to hold lots of primetime political rallies, which were supposed to grab the spotlight for him and the GOP. But they became so redundant and boring that even Fox News pulled the plug on the snore fests. (Republicans then lost the midterms in a landslide.)
It's true that in late March the Trump pandemic briefings were a ratings hit, as millions tuned in each day, in hopes of getting helpful information about the unprecedented health crisis that was unfolding. And considering the White House had gone an entire year without hosting a press briefing, the events were undeniably newsworthy, even as Trump trafficked in purposeful disinformation. Since then though, the air seems to have leaked out of the briefing room, as the Q & A’s have taken on a Groundhog Day quality to them. "Over time, the news conferences have become increasingly devoid of actual news," noted ABC.
Often talking just to hear himself talk, Trump's appearances, where he aggressively says nothing of importance for hours on end, have morphed from must-see TV, to re-run status. To adhere to social distancing guidelines, the White House briefing room now hosts just a handful of reporters each day. The emptiness of the room now adds to the, 'Who cares' vibe of the sessions.
There’s little sense of urgency anymore, despite the grave topic at hand. The briefings now consists of a handful of bored reporters asking the same questions day after day, and Trump not answering them, opting instead to engage in textbook narcissistic behavior, as he credit himself for containing the virus (he did not), and lashing out critics and scientists who question the emperor's clothing.
Reporters look defeated and a bit embarrassed to have to take part in this sad, daily charade. Indeed, the briefings now carry with them a feeling of futility, which only adds to the media negligence for airing them live.
The briefings are also clearly not working in terms of a White House marketing tool. Trump wanted to use the televised events to help portray him as a leader in charge, standing in front of a phalanx of top officials each day, reassuring the public as the crisis raged. But the grim reality has surpassed White House stagecraft. The United States by the end of the week will likely be looking at a pandemic death toll near 40,000, and more than 20 million lost jobs.
That's why after a very brief 'Trump bump' in the polls as the pandemic first broke, his approval for his handling of the crisis had steadily dropped, as the death toll and unemployment numbers soar. And his incoherent daily ramblings at the briefings aren't protecting his reputation.
"New polls this week by Quinnipiac, Reuters and CNN all find disapproval of Trump's handling of the coronavirus rising to a majority of Americans," NBC News reported. Those results are in stark contrast to other key leaders around the world whose approval ratings have skyrocketed, as they were seen as taking aggressive action to protect the public. They're also in stark contrast to the surge of approval American presidents in the past have received in times of national emergency. "A leader in this sort of crisis should have a 75-to-80-percent approval rating," Carlos Curbelo, former Florida Republican Congressman, told the New York Times.
Trump loves to see himself as a television star and a ratings magnet. But over the last few weeks with the ceaseless bloviating, he’s turned himself into a TV has-been.
Yes, the pandemic is a deadly serious topic. But also, if we can't find slivers of laughter we'd all go mad. In that spirit, I offer the most New Jersey thing ever that recently happened on Twitter. (Even if you're not from Jersey, it's still pretty funny.)
FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
The Strokes, "The Adults are Talking"
My college-age son is a huge Strokes fan and one of the things he's most proud of in terms of my parenting is when I remind him when he was three years old our house often had The Strokes' classic, "12:51," turned up very loud as the little kids danced around.
New York City's last truly great rock band, The Strokes just released their first full-length album since 2013, The New Abnormal. If you know the band and its signature, machine-gun style of four-minute blitzes, you'll know what the new record sounds like, as the Strokes rarely stray from their winning formula. This song is the early front-runner for my favorite New Abnormal offering, as lead singer Julian Casablancas delivers a thrillingly restrained vocal, and the band hammers a Cars-happy groove.
It's Monday, this is a great way jump-start the week:
They will blame us, crucify and shame us
We can't help it if we are a problem
We are tryin' hard to get your attention
I'm climbin' up your wall
Climbin' up your wall