Six television networks began showing President Donald Trump’s briefing on the coronavirus outbreak late Monday, but only Fox News Channel stuck it out to the end nearly two hours later.
According to The Associated Press, it was a notable turning point in coverage of the president’s now-daily briefings. Networks had been starting to hear criticism of how much time they have been showing the president answering questions live, reminiscent of a similar debate in the past about showing Trump’s campaign rallies.
Still, there’s a difference between political rallies and a White House discussion of a national emergency.
ABC, CBS and NBC all covered Trump at the beginning of Monday’s briefing, which began about 6:10 p.m. Eastern. After 20 minutes, they switched to the network evening newscasts, never to return to Trump. The president spoke until shortly after 8 p.m.
The cable news networks have given Trump blanket coverage for his briefings, but CNN cut away Monday at around 7:20 p.m. MSNBC followed within five minutes.
Of its own decision to stop showing Trump live, CNN said that “if the White House wants to ask for time on the network, they should make an official request. Otherwise we will make our own editorial decisions.”
MSNBC, through a spokesperson, said that “we cut away because the information no longer appeared to be valuable to the important ongoing discussion around public health.”
The Washington Post’s media critic, Margaret Sullivan, wrote Monday that the briefings were beginning to sound like substitutes for Trump’s campaign rallies, and were working against the goal of giving the public critical and truthful information.