New York (CNN Business)President Donald Trump on Thursday made one thing clear: Even as he’s trying to blame China for not being transparent about the coronavirus pandemic, he’s yearning for it to be covered in the US the way it was in that authoritarian state.
Speaking at the White House’s daily coronavirus briefing, Trump praised a right-wing conspiracy outlet which produces propaganda on his behalf, while simultaneously bashing credible news organizations as untrustworthy sources of information as he struggled to answer basic questions from reporters.
Trump has taken questions regularly from reporters in the briefing room and has been unmistakably more transparent than the Chinese government while combating the coronavirus.
But his attitude, lashing out at critical press while pushing outlets that are all but propaganda, had a whiff of the authoritarian regime in Beijing, which has cracked down on critical press while pushing state-controlled media to its citizens as it puts on its best face while combating the lethal virus.
China on Tuesday expelled American journalists with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post in retaliation against the US for the State Department’s recent decision to treat five Chinese news outlets as a mouthpieces for Beijing.
But, despite saying that he was “not happy” about the move, Trump smeared all three of those outlets at his briefing Thursday.
“They’re very dishonest,” Trump said.
Trump’s attack on The Times, The Journal, and The Post came in response to a question from a small, far-right cable news channel which he praised as “very good.”
“They treat me very nicely,” Trump said, while calling on the outlet which has a long history of pushing conspiracy theories in support of his presidency.
The right-wing personality falsely said major newsrooms had “teamed up” with the Chinese Communist Party to attack Trump.
The person then asked, “Is it alarming that major media players that just oppose you are consistently siding with foreign state propaganda, Islamic radicals and Latin gangs and cartels?”
Instead of rebuking the right-wing personality for the question, Trump boasted that he had canceled the White House’s subscriptions to the country’s major newspapers.
“It amazes me when I read the things that I read,” Trump said. “It amazes me when I read The Wall Street Journal which is so negative and The New York Times, I barely read it. We don’t distribute it in the White House, and the same with The Washington Post.”
The President during Thursday’s coronavirus task force briefing was unable to answer basic questions from journalists in the room.
At one point, a reporter asked Trump why there is a “gap” between his administration’s message that there is ample testing and equipment available for medical professionals at hospitals, and the “opposite” reality on the ground.
“I cannot explain the gap,” Trump said.
Trump even joked about ejecting members of the news media which are insufficiently loyal to him.
“I’ll have just two or three that I like in this room,” Trump said in jest.
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy condemned Trump’s anti-media remarks while addressing the global pandemic.
“This is unbelievably dangerous,” Murphy said on Twitter. “The press has done nothing but convey the gravity of the crisis, and by discrediting the media, Trump empowers the hoax purveyors and conspiracy theorists who tell people there’s nothing to worry about.”