White House cancels media briefing as Trump rails against 'enemy' journalists
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The White House abruptly cancelled Monday’s (April 27) daily media briefing on the coronavirus pandemic after US President Donald Trump railed against “enemy” journalists and officials signalled a new public relations strategy.
This would be the third consecutive day without a briefing, an event which has been a fixture for weeks, but became a public relations disaster for the president last Thursday when he suggested people could inject disinfectants to fight the virus.
The White House had scheduled a briefing for late afternoon, then issued an update saying it was cancelled. Over the weekend, none was scheduled and on Friday the president left without taking questions.
Trump has been ridiculed around the world for Thursday’s disinfectant comment, which he later claimed was meant to be sarcasm aimed at journalists, although he was clearly talking directly to his medical advisors.
He has also been incensed the last few days by unflattering newspaper reports about his work habits and use of the sometimes two-hour briefings to praise himself, while battering rivals.
On Monday, he kept up an anti-media tweet storm begun over the weekend, writing: “FAKE NEWS, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”
“There has never been, in the history of our Country, a more vicious or hostile Lamestream Media than there is right now, even in the midst of a National Emergency, the Invisible Enemy!” Trump also wrote.
Kayleigh McEnany, the new White House press secretary, indicated that a new strategy would be rolled out, emphasising Trump’s business background and his focus on reopening the US economy, which is in a deep hole due to measures against the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We’re going forward. Today we’re not tracking a briefing. There’ll be a press avail later this afternoon with CEOs the president’s meeting with,” she told Fox News, referring to a session Trump will host with businesses involved in the fight against the pandemic.
“We’re looking at different ways to showcase this president leading,” she said.
McEnany insisted that the briefings would be back this week, but suggested a new look “to showcase (to) the American people the great entrepreneurship of this president.”
“Absolutely, the president will be present. I’m not going to get ahead of what the briefings will look like this week. They may have a different look,” she said.