President Donald Trump’s return to daily White House press briefings during the coronavirus crisis has generated massive ratings.
The New York Times reports nearly 12.2 million people watched Trump’s briefing on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, according to Nielsen — plus millions more on streaming sites, and local news networks.
That puts him in the same ratings territory as Monday Night Football, typically the most popular program for a Monday.
Millions of Americans have made the president’s daily briefings must-watch television since the coronavirus hit, especially since many of them are in quarantine.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has followed a similar strategy, turning his grim but compassionate daily updates on the fight against the virus into an event for people on the East Coast.
President Trump continues to spread optimism about beating the virus from the briefing room podium and returning life to normal, despite cautionary talk from government doctors like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx. Vice President Mike Pence offers comfort and reassurance from the podium, reminding Americans to follow the government recommendations to help stop the spread of the virus.
The left has turned Fauci into a resistance hero, despite repeated assertions from the doctor that they are on the same team although they serve different roles. Supporters of the president cheer him on as he battles through skeptical journalists who routinely pit themselves against the president.
On Wednesday, the president scolded a CBS journalist for suggesting he was only promoting Easter as a date allowing Americans go back to church so he could win re-election.
I think there are certain people that would like it to do financially poorly because they think that would be very good as far as defeating me at the polls. And I don’t know if that’s so, but I do think it’s so that a lot of — that there are people in your profession that would like that to happen.
I think it’s very clear that there are people in your profession that write fake news. You do. She does. There are people in your profession that write fake news. They would love to see me, for whatever reason — because we’ve done one hell of a job. Nobody has done the job that we’ve done. And it’s lucky that you have this group here, right now, for this problem, or you wouldn’t even have a country left.
“Social distancing” restrictions have reduced the number of White House reporters allowed in the room, giving establishment reporters unprecedented access to the president, shutting out lesser-known and conservative outlets.
Cable news networks, who repeatedly criticized Trump’s decision to end the daily briefings, now find themselves torn whether to air the president’s daily exchange with the press live.
On Wednesday, CNN cut away from the president’s briefing only to swiftly return when Dr. Anthony Fauci began speaking.
The president has demonstrated interest in keeping the briefings going. When journalists asked him last week if he would commit to continuing the daily briefing he replied, “Well, I’ve gotten to like this room.”
“This has been a very convenient room for all of us,” he continued. “You people are set up. So I never even thought of closing it. So you’re asking me a question that I never thought in terms of closing it.”
He acknowledged that he was not always a fan of the establishment media’s questions, but that it was good to “get it out of your system.”
“[W]e take a lot of questions from you,” he continued. “Unfortunately, some of them are repetitive and some of them are fantastic questions. Some of these questions are great. Some of the questions lead to us solving a problem. You bring up problems that people didn’t know existed. But I just want to let you know, so we’re doing this so that we can be transparent, so that we can get everything out.”