WASHINGTON — By the time he canceled the show midseason, even President Donald Trump had grown weary of his televised coronavirus briefings. Angry at the reviews, he declared the briefings “not worth the time & effort,” a conclusion shared by his own advisers and allies who had come to see them as hurting more than helping.
But while the freewheeling sessions with their cascades of misinformation and petty outbursts had become self-destructive, nothing else has taken their place as a way for Trump to get his message out given his lack of success reviving his favorite campaign rallies. And so, the president said on Monday that he was bringing back the virus briefings nearly two months after calling them off.
The decision to resume the briefings amounts to a tacit acknowledgment that the public health crisis that Trump has sought to put behind him is still ravaging much of the country as he heads toward a fall election season trailing badly in the polls. With new infections, hospitalizations and now deaths on the rise, especially in the South and West, it has become increasingly difficult for the president to simply shrug off the outbreaks as mere “embers” that can be easily smothered.
“Frankly, a lot of the country is doing well — a lot of the people don’t say it, as you understand,” Trump said in his comments Monday. “But we’ve have had this big flare-up in Florida, Texas, a couple of other places. And so I think what we’re going to do is I’ll get involved and we’ll start doing briefings.”
The original coronavirus briefings from March to April were made-for-television events, with scientific information provided by public health experts often overshadowed by a confrontational president castigating governors, lawmakers, China, reporters and others. Trump eventually quit holding them after he was widely mocked for suggesting that people might be able to counter the virus by ingesting or injecting disinfectants.