Accuracy in Media

MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell was dumbfounded that recent polls show that the public largely approves of President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, saying, “No matter what he says, people seem to be seeing him as a leader.”

“There is politics involved” in the crisis, she said. “We’ve heard very little from, for instance, the more likely, most likely nominee of the Democratic Party, Joe Biden. He’s having difficulty getting… projecting through this crisis as the campaign goes totally on hold, and we’re also seeing some polls indicating the president’s approval ratings among Democrats and independents skyrocketing to their highest levels yet.”

“Some 60 percent approval ratings for the way he’s handling this crisis as he continues to hold these briefings,” Mitchell said, citing a recent Gallup poll. “The briefings are working for the president, no matter what he says, people seem to be seeing him as a leader. At least more people do.”

Micthell’s guest, former Obama deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, tried to throw cold water on the poll.

“Yeah, as you know, Andrea, you and I share a healthy skepticism on public polling, Messina said. “And I think what polling shows right now is not going to be what happens.”

“The problem President Trump has is he’s made a bunch of promises that have turned out to be wrong on this virus, and going forward, once we get really deep into this in the next couple of weeks, the American public is going to look back and say, ‘What did you say would happen and what actually happened?’ The second political challenge he has is the economy, right? These numbers right in the middle of his re-election campaign. The unemployment numbers are skyrocketing in the states, and this is going to present a real problem for him.”

“For Vice President Biden, he has the opposite problem, which is he now has to kind of sit there and watch all of this. He can’t go out and raise money, he can’t kind of consolidate his lead. We had to move some of the primaries back. So it’s a challenge for him too. But right now, President Trump, I would reject all of the polls you see back and forth and just know that in a month from now, people are going to kind of look back and say, ‘What happened and who is responsible?’ and President Trump’s comments are someday going to be on a television ad and it’s going to be really difficult for him to rebut in the fall of this year.”

On Wednesday, World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Trump’s leadership on the coronavirus crisis.

“Fighting this pandemic needs political commitment and commitment at the highest level possible — and the President’s commitment, you have already seen it,” the director-general said. “As you know, one of the recommendations from WHO is the whole of government approach involving all sectors. And the principal, the head of state, taking responsibility and leading the whole response and that’s exactly what he is doing.”

“I believe that kind of political commitment and political leadership can bring change or can stop this pandemic. I know he’s doing all he can.”

The briefings are working well — too well for the media, so they are now pushing back and thinking about not airing live the White House’s daily press briefings on the coronavirus crisis and only providing what they determine is essential information. They were eager to cover these briefings as Trump was heavily involved betting that it would hurt his re-election chances only to see that the public believes he has made the proper decisions given the difficult circumstances and putting Biden into a bind as he can’t appear overly critical of the president lest voters see him as putting his political interests ahead of the country as a whole.


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