Critics slammed President Donald Trump on Sunday for posting tweets touting the television ratings of his news conferences about the coronavirus outbreak, which has now killed more than 2,300 people in the U.S.
Trump's tweets were in response to a New York Times article that said the audience for his briefings was as large as that for popular programming such as “The Bachelor” and “Monday Night Football”
“Because the ‘Ratings' of my News Conferences etc. are so high, ‘Bachelor finale, Monday Night Football type numbers' according to the @nytimes, the Lamestream Media is going CRAZY,” Trump tweeted. He quoted the Times article in three more tweets, which cited the millions of people who have tuned in for his briefings and a CBS News poll that found Republicans have far more faith in Trump than the news media.
But Trump did not accurately quote the article and failed to mention the central point of the piece, which was that news networks were debating whether to air the conferences because the president has consistently provided the public with false or misleading information about the COVID-19 outbreak.
For example, the lead sentence of the Times said, “President Trump is a ratings hit, and some journalists and public health experts say that could be a dangerous thing. Since reviving the daily White House briefing – a practice abandoned last year by an administration that bristles at outside scrutiny – Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news …”
On the other hand, Trump's tweet that claimed to quote the article read: “President Trump is a ratings hit. Since reviving the daily White House briefing Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news …”
Many Twitter users and Trump critics responded angrily to the tweets for focusing on ratings during the deadly pandemic.
“People are dying and everyone is scared. So many heroes are selflessly working to attend to our health and safety, and make essential goods and services available. This is not about your ratings, Mr. President!” said former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. “This is not a reality tv show. For countless Americans this is our reality.”
“If all you care about are your TV ratings, remember that President Nixon attracted an estimated 110 million viewers for his resignation speech,” tweeted Kevin Kruse, a professor of history at Princeton University.
“On CNN, I said people are dying while Trump is talking about his ratings. It is beneath any human being. Trump's inner circle needs to intervene,” said “Reliable Sources” anchor Brian Stelter.
Even Brit Hume, senior political analyst for Fox News, who normally defends Trump from media criticism, wondered, “Why bother to tweet about this, of all things?”
“SAD to see a President acting or even thinking this way,” said Joe Lockhart, press secretary to former President Bill Clinton.
Here were some other responses to president's tweets:
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