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Trump Allies Worry About His Daily Briefings

Lindsey Graham, others suggest they're hurting more than helping him
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2020 2:52 PM CDT

(Newser) – It's no big surprise President Trump's critics don't like his daily briefings on the coronavirus outbreak. (See this scathing op-ed by a member of the New York Times editorial board.) But now a number of stories suggest that some of the president's political allies aren't fans, either. The sentiment from them is that Trump might be hurting himself, and thus his chances for reelection, with his lengthy, wide-ranging comments. Coverage:

  • From Nikki Haley: The former UN ambassador gave the president credit for his willingness to "over-communicate" about the outbreak. "But I also think he needs to let his experts speak," she told Fox News, per Politico. She said those experts should be the ones to answer questions, not Trump. "I don't think he needs to feel like he needs to answer everything." She also warned about the briefings going on "too long."

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  • Graham, others: The New York Times has a lengthy news story about the issue, concluding that "White House allies and Republican lawmakers increasingly believe the briefings are hurting the president more than helping him." Sen. Lindsey Graham, for instance, worries that Trump "sometimes drowns out his own message" and has advised him to cut back on his comments. Others quoted with similar sentiments include Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia. "Let the health professionals guide where we’re going to go," suggested Capito, who said the briefings were "going off the rails a little bit." Advisers quoted anonymously were more critical, voicing worries that Trump was giving daily ammunition to Joe Biden by making errors.
  • 'Journal' sniping: The conservative editorial page of the Wall Street Journal faulted Trump for his "outbursts" against political opponents during the briefings and offered ways to improve them, including a 45-minute cap. Trump responded via tweet: "The Wall Street Journal always 'forgets' to mention that the ratings for the White House Press Briefings are 'through the roof,'" and the "only way for me to escape the Fake News & get my views across." The Journal responded in kind Thursday evening, noting that if ratings are high, it's only because this is life and death, "not because people enjoy Donald Trump sparring with the White House press corps like a Packers-Bears game."
  • Polls: A new CBS News poll finds that public support for Trump's handling of the crisis has declined in two consecutive weeks. The survey found that 47% think Trump is doing a good job on the outbreak, down from 51% last week and 53% the week before that. That jibes with the results of six separate polls out Wednesday, reports Politico. Its headline: "The briefings aren't working: Trump's approval rating takes a dip." A Fox News poll out Thursday night, however, found that approval of Trump's coronavirus management held steady at 51% from last month. Other figures got higher marks in the Fox poll, including Anthony Fauci (80%) and Deborah Birx (62%).
  • In defense: Democrats should fear the briefings, writes Liz Peek in an op-ed at the Hill. "For all the flaws, the public sees a man unquestionably engaged and energized, relentless in his push for solutions."
  • On Friday: The criticism noted above didn't seem to affect the president much on Friday, as he took questions at great length in the afternoon briefing. The event stretched more than two hours. As for his main message: "We're going to go back to work and we're going to stay healthy," Trump said, per NPR. "We are looking at a date. We are hoping to fulfill a certain date. But we aren't going to do anything unless we know we can be healthy."
(Read more President Trump stories.)

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