While the national coronavirus outbreak continues to receive wall-to-wall coverage, executives at CNN and MSNBC -- both liberal cable “news” channels -- are actually debating whether to continue airing live press conferences being conducted by President Trump.
The clash pits Democratic critics, who claim the Republican official is using the briefings to spread “misinformation,” versus those who have stated that their ratings have never been higher and show no signs of dropping.
According to an article posted last week by Daily Beast Editor at Large Lloyd Grove and the website’s media reporter, Maxwell Tani:
Despite internal handwringing among producers and journalists as the week unfolded, … the bosses at MSNBC, CNN and Fox News once again decided on Thursday to broadcast every moment of Trump’s self-congratulatory and largely fact-free cheerleading live.
[Meanwhile,] the United States achieved the dubious milestone of becoming the world’s No. 1 coronavirus-infected country -- surpassing even China’s 81,000-plus cases by more than 2,000, with twice China’s death rate.
The article featured liberal whining from MSNBC hosts who want the President's briefing taken off TV. That included Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough, who tweeted during Trump’s briefing that Monday that there was “no public benefit to this briefing,” and the cable news networks should “cut away.”
Of course, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow -- who anchors the network’s most highly rated weeknight program -- has also repeatedly called for news networks to stop carrying Trump’s statements live.
“If it were up to me, and it’s not, I would stop putting those briefings on live TV,” Maddow said. “Not out of spite, but because it’s misinformation” that can “cost lives.”
According to the article, an NBC News insider said the White House briefings should be not be ignored, just "fact checked." He's quoted as saying: “But let’s remember that the … press corps absolutely torched the Trump White House for eliminating the daily briefings.” “Now there’s a high-profile daily press briefing that often includes the president and vice president, so you can’t have it both ways.”
On March 23, both CNN and MSNBC cut away from Trump’s unusually lengthy briefing after an hour, while the Fox News Channel continued to carry it until the end.
“Of course they did,” scoffed a CNN employee.
A Fox News insider, however, defended the town hall: “Given we are operating in an unprecedented evolving hour-to-hour crisis, this was a major television feat to pull off and the entire town hall made news which any network would have been thrilled to have.”