| 7.1°C Dublin

President uses outbreak drama to put himself on centre stage

Close

Eric Trump has griped about the media not always showing the full briefing

Eric Trump has griped about the media not always showing the full briefing

Eric Trump has griped about the media not always showing the full briefing

Since mid-January, US President Donald Trump has spent a total of 12 hours speaking publicly about the novel coronavirus - amounting to more than 137,000 words, according to Factba.se, a data analysis firm. He has tweeted about the virus 138 times. In the past week alone, he has spoken for 287 minutes - more than four and a half hours - during daily news conferences.

Trump's on-air ubiquity is part of a deliberate White House strategy to place the president front and centre as the pitchman and PR impresario for the coronavirus response.

He is saturating cable news and Twitter, filling the airwaves and internet with words - often hopeful and optimistic talk that at times contradicts his public health experts, is not always rooted in scientific reality and can veer off topic.

But despite the criticism and alarm Trump's prescriptions have prompted, his poll numbers have ticked up and his dominance of the media landscape has made it more difficult for Democrats - including Joe Biden, who leads the presidential field in delegates - to break through with their own message.

A recent Gallup poll showed Trump's approval rating back up to 49pc, the highest rating of his presidency, from 44pc earlier this month, with 60pc of the public approving his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. A more recent Monmouth University poll found 50pc saying Trump has done a good job dealing with the outbreak, while 45pc said he has done a bad job.

In some ways, Trump - a former reality TV host who craves the spotlight - has long wanted to be his own press secretary, communications director and chief strategist, believing that just about any crisis can be solved through compelling messaging and his own omnipresence.

Recently, he spoke enthusiastically to aides about reopening the White House briefing room, which has languished under current press secretary Stephanie Grisham, and taking to the lectern himself, said one person familiar with the president's comments.

The White House has pushed the daily news conference to early evening - a nod to the president's desire to appear in prime time - and over the past two weeks, those daily briefings have lasted an average of nearly 75 minutes each, according to Factba.se.

"During these uncertain and ever-changing times, it is important that the American people are hearing directly from their president," Grisham said in an email. "We have also been ensuring that members of the task force are available to give updates and answer questions. Providing the public with as much information as possible right now is paramount."

When Trump's coronavirus events are not carried live, his allies have complained. On Monday, White House spokesman Judd Deere called CNN's and MSNBC's decisions not to air the briefing in its entirety "pretty disgraceful".

Trump's son Eric also griped on Twitter about the media not always showing the full briefing: "This is truly sick in the time of national emergency," he wrote. (© Washington Post)

Irish Independent