...of a beautiful question-and-answer: Should cable channels broadcast the president's "daily briefings?"
Three New York magazine scribes debate the question here. Especially after yesterday's marathon lunacy, we would say the answer is no. But any news org which took that stand would have to bite a series of bullets.
By now, it's abundantly clear that these daily "briefings" are really campaign events / propaganda sessions. Tiny amounts of information may sometimes emerge, but they're buried under an avalanche of nonsense and disinformation.
As we noted this morning, the haplessness of our upper-end journalists turns them into key players in this power grab. Their skills are virtually non-existent. They might as well not even be there.
You'd think that everyone could agree on the following points. The basic blocking-and-tackling of our current disaster turns on these basic question:
How much testing is available? How much testing is needed? Precisely when will the gap disappear?In all these matters, the journalists must compare the amount of material being produced to the amount which will be needed. Otherwise, Trump will simply bluster ahead, rattling a litany of very large numbers, creating the impression that his incredible leadership has virtually flooded the zone.
How many ventilators exist in this country? How many ventilators will be needed? When will the shortfall be addressed?
How much testing will soon be possible? How many new ventilators will be produced? How much protective gear for the nation's health workers?
In all cases, we need to see two sets of numbers—current numbers versus projected need. How hard is this point to grasp?
So far, our journalists show no ability to produce such interrogations. With that in mind, consider a moment from last night's marathon "briefing." It almost seemed like it might be the start of a useful question:
QUESTION (3/31/20): Can I just ask a follow up testing question, real quick, before we move on?The question came from Shannon Pettypiece, senior White House reporter for NBC News Digital and frequent MSNBC guest. The question looked to the past, not to the future, but it went to a significant point:
So the testing numbers—I understand a million tests [have been] done; it’s a big increase. But we were told there would be 27 million tests available by the end of the month.
So can you outline where in the supply chain, where in the logistics chain, are those other 26?
It asked about a wildly inaccurate previous statement. Our journalists have had a very hard time getting Trump to respond to such questions, in part because their questions have often been poorly formed.
This question was quite straightforward. It involved a giant gap between an earlier pledge from a Trump official and the current reality.
Where are the 26 million tests? As retrospective questions go, this one looked quite promising.
In response to this promising question, the president threw to Vice President Pence. Tomorrow morning, we'll show you where that took us.
Simply put, our current scribes simply aren't up to this task. You confront a pandemic with the press corps you have, but daily "briefings" will always be gong-shows given our current lineup of journalistic guardians.
Many journalists went to the finest schools. It doesn't much seem to have helped. Simply put, they lack the essential chops.
In large part for that reason, it's time to throw in the towel and call this gong-show off.