On Wednesday, cases of COVID-19 surpassed 200,000 in the United States. While doctors put themselves at risk to help reduce the casualties, the media has made a point of asking slanted questions. Reporters have turned the White House Coronavirus Task Force conferences into a series of lengthy bantering matches.
American families, healthcare providers, business owners, and workers are fighting the virus and its economic impacts on the ground. Meanwhile, journalists and politicians are fighting each other. They must come together with the rest of the American public to fight the pandemic.
But some journalists are refusing to do so. CNN reporter Jim Acosta has gained some attention over the past few weeks for his repeated spats with President Donald Trump.
“What do you say to Americans who are upset with you over the way you downplayed the crisis?” Acosta asked Monday. To which Trump retorted, “It’s people like you and CNN that say things like that — it’s why people just don’t want to listen to CNN anymore. You could ask a normal question.”
The day before, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor asked the president about a comment he made the night prior on Fox News. “You’ve said repeatedly you think that some of the equipment that governors are requesting they don’t actually need,” Alcindor said
“Why don’t you act a little more positive?” Trump said. “It’s always trying to getcha, getcha, getcha. And that’s why nobody trusts the media anymore.”
Joe Concha reported in The Hill on March 20 that NBC’s White House correspondent Peter Alexander complained about Trump’s response to a question, which he said later on MSNBC was a “softball.”
But Alexander’s question was decidedly pointed: “Is it possible that your impulse to put a positive spin on things may be giving Americans a false sense of hope and misrepresenting preparedness right now?”
This isn’t to say Trump’s responses are presidential. He called Alexander “a terrible reporter” and said his question was “nasty.”
Under normal circumstances, these questions, and the responses Trump gives in return, are simply not helpful. Under a worldwide pandemic, they are unsafe. Bantering between media and politicians distracts the American people from the information they need to know and puts us all in danger. In a time of crisis, it’s the pandemic we should be fighting — not each other.