The Down Jones Industrial index was at an all day high shortly after 11am Friday it was up about 250 points from the previous day. That was when Donald Trump started talking at a White House Corona Virus briefing. First he got into an open mike disagreement with his public health expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, an immunologist and key member of the White House’s pandemic response team over whether sufficient tests were being conducted. Then he got into a disagreement with Fauci over whether or not the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine might be effective against Coronavirus. Trump said he’s optimistic about fielding as a treatment for coronavirus sufferers. Public health officials are much cooler, however, and Fauci said that he wants to see clinical results before he endorses the uses of hydroxychloroquine or other drugs developed for other purposes to treat COVID-19. Trump appeared irritated and said that he was just expressing his hope that it could be a big difference-maker: “What the hell do you have to lose?” he said. Fauci sought to split the difference between the interpretations they gave. “It might be effective,” he said. “I’m not saying it isn’t” — what remains important is to develop clinical evidence about its effectiveness, Fauci said. It was about then that things really boiled over in an exchange with NBC reporter Peter Alexander. Alexander fenced with the President over the lack of testing and medical protective masks, and asked Trump “what do you say to American people who are watching you right now and are scared?” Trump, shaking his head, ripped into Alexander in response.
“I say that you are a terrible reporter,” Trump replied. “That’s what I say.”
The President proceeded to launch into an extended rant against Alexander, saying he asked a “nasty question” and assailing NBC and its parent company, Comcast.
“You’re doing sensationalism,” Trump charged. “And the same with NBC and Comcast. I don’t call it Comcast. I call it ‘Con-Cast.'”
“Let me just tell you something,” Trump added. “That’s really bad reporting. And you ought to get back to reporting instead of sensationalism.”
Moments later, Kaitlan Collins, a White House correspondent for CNN, asked Trump if it was appropriate to embark on tirades against members of the news media during a public health crisis.
“You see yourself as a wartime President right now, leading the country through a pandemic that we are experiencing,” Collins noted. “Do you think going off on Peter, going off on a network is appropriate when the country is going through something like this?”
Trump defended his verbal assault on Alexander, saying he’s “not a good journalist” and launching into another rant against him.
“Coming together is much harder when we have dishonest journalists,” Trump said.
Alexander said in a statement that he was “trying to provide the president an opportunity to reassure the millions of Americans, members of my own family and my neighbors and my community and plenty of people sitting at home, this was his opportunity to do that, to provide a positive or uplifting message. Instead, you saw the president’s answer to that question right now.”
“The bottom line is, this is a president whose experiences in life are very different than most Americans across this country right now,” Alexander said. “Not a person who likely worries about finances or had, not a person who in the course of his life is worried about his future, not a person who is worried about where to find a paycheck for his bills or for his rent and as evidenced by the president suggesting that an opportunity to provide for American some reassurance about how they should feel right now, the president instead took it out on me.”
Alexander’s NBC News colleague and host of “Meet the Press” weighed on the matter, praising him for his “professionalism.”
“I wish people on the on the other side of the podium had the same professionalism as well, so thank you, Peter,” Todd said.
After striking a somber tone earlier in the week, Trump in recent days has returned to his usual attacks against the press.
At Thursday’s coronavirus press briefing, Trump smeared The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.
“They’re very dishonest,” Trump claimed.
Whether a direct result or not, the Dow at that moment started to fall and ended the day down more than 900 points or a further 4.55 percent.
Follow the exchange here: https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/20/media/trump-rant-at-nbc-news-peter-alexander/index.html