WASHINGTON — Monday’s coronavirus briefing has been canceled by the White House, leaving the future of the near-daily televised addresses in doubt after they became increasingly contentious.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters there would be no briefing after it was originally scheduled for 5 p.m. — the decision coming after the president complained over the weekend that they were a waste of his time.
Several hours later, however, a 5 p.m. Rose Garden press conference was added to the schedule — McEnany tweeting that Trump would brief the nation on “additional testing guidance and other announcements about safely opening up America again.”
McEnany — who replaced Stephanie Grisham as press secretary earlier this month — told reporters earlier that the daily briefings with the coronavirus task force going forward “might have a new look to them, a new focus to them,” but denied they had been canceled because of negative coverage.
“We think they have been a very positive, helpful opportunity for the president to speak to the American people,” she said, adding the administration was now focused on reopening the economy.
According to various reports, the president will only make fleeting appearances at briefings going forward.
The lengthy addresses, some lasting over two hours, began as a way for the president and the task force’s top scientists to keep the public updated on testing and mitigation efforts.
But remarks made by Trump at the briefing room podium last week about whether those infected with COVID-19 could be “injected” with disinfectant sparked a tsunami of criticism and negative press.
Saturday evening’s scheduled briefing was canceled, while Friday’s lasted just 20 minutes and the president walked out of the room without taking questions.
Articles by the New York Times and Washington Post over the weekend reported that in the 35 briefings held on the pandemic, Trump spent the majority of the time boasting about his efforts or attacking his opponents.
In a tweet Saturday, the president railed against that coverage, which he felt was unfair and signaled the daily virus briefings may be a thing of the past.
“What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately,” he wrote.
“They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort!” he continued.
This morning he followed up with, “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!