President Donald Trump’s daily Coronavirus task force press conferences at the White House have frequently devolved into spectacles in which the president has lashed out against members of the media or any number of a whole host of other perceived political opponents. In response to criticism of his behavior, he’s only dug in, frequently pointing out the briefings’ high television ratings and suggesting there’s some kind of conspiracy to get him off the air. During an appearance on Fox & Friends this week, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley — who used to serve in the Trump administration as ambassador to the United Nations — insisted that Trump needs to let the administration’s experts have the floor at the briefings.
At this rate, there could be an angry tweet from the president about Haley soon. He does not take well to even the slightest criticism, including over his self-aggrandizement spectacles at the press briefings.
‘I think the president is good to show up everyday and let people know he’s on it but I also think he needs to let his experts speak… Let them talk about it… I don’t think they need to be too long, I don’t think he needs to answer everything but I do think we need to hold his members of the task force accountable.’
The experts that have frequently participated in the briefings include Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx.
For the most part, the two of them have stayed out of political spats — although there have been exceptions, like Birx’s deeply questionable appearance on the Christian Broadcasting Network in which she insisted that Trump has a great grasp of the science behind the situation.
As she put it, referring to Trump:
‘He’s been so attentive to the scientific literature and the details and the data. I think his ability to analyze and integrate data that comes out of his long history in business has really been a real benefit during these discussions about medical issues.’
"[Trump is] so attentive to the scientific literature & the details & the data. I think his ability to analyze & integrate data that comes out of his long history in business has really been a real benefit” — this is shocking, hackish stuff from Dr. Birx. pic.twitter.com/c2phsRYaJs
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 27, 2020
Actually, Trump has consistently pushed plans — like his since abandoned push to reopen the economy by Easter — that fly in the face of public health guidelines, which are in place to help prevent even more carnage from the unfettered spread of the Coronavirus that could ensue if Trump got a chance to launch business back into motion before the virus was under control.
Still, for their part, even public health experience with Dear Leader-style deference to Trump only occasionally mixed in is a whole lot more than can be said of most everyone else in the president’s inner circles amidst the crisis. The scientists on the White House team are the ones who convinced Trump against his plan to abandon social distancing attempts by Easter.
Trump has been pushing other antagonistic virus responses anyway. For example, he’s threatened to withhold U.S. financial contributions to the World Health Organization over their supposed “China-centric” behavior, and this week, Haley supported the idea of an investigation. However, one look at Trump’s own history of publicly dismissing the virus indicates how definitely he’s not in any position to speak with authority here.
The timeline of when the World Health Organization was notified about the dangers of the virus and the action or inaction that followed. You be the judge on whether there needs to be an investigation. I think the answer is clear. pic.twitter.com/fWOi2IfOAX
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) April 10, 2020