Collins gets it right again: It's hard to believe, but CNN's Kaitlan Collins got it right again!
She got it right, for the second straight day, at yesterday's prime-time "briefing." We can only hope that her somnolent colleagues are watching the way she comports herself at these daily campaign events.
As on Monday, so too yesterday—Collins kept refusing to accept non-answer answers from President Donald J. Trump. She persisted in a line of questioning, eventually drawing the same response she'd received on Monday:
"Enough," the commander once again said.
Collins' behavior is so unusual, and so appropriate, that attention ought to be paid. We plan to review yesterday's performance tomorrow, including the accurate account she later delivered to Anderson Cooper.
Today, let's focus on the blinding stupidity her colleagues, and her corporate managers, are strongly inclined to sleep through and enable.
How stupid does it get, on a daily basis, at these absurd daily briefings? Consider the long soliloquy in praise of himself which Trump delivered yesterday during his prepared remarks.
The president went on and on, at punishing length, concerning the greatness of the way he acquired ventilators for the nation's slacker governors.
This is one of his most frequently repeated tales. It ranks high on the list of the memorized tales now referred to as All The President's Monologues.
How stupid does it get at these briefings as our journalists slumber and snore? Trump began yesterday's Ventilator Monologue in a very familiar way:
TRUMP (4/14/20): As you know, in other countries, hit hard by the virus, hospitals have been tragically forced to ration medical care and the use of ventilators, but due to our early and aggressive action, the skill of our healthcare workers, and the resilience of our healthcare system, no hospital in America has been forced to deny any patient access to a ventilator.Trump has recited this story segment about ten thousand times.
With all of the talk you’ve heard, where some states wanted 40,000 ventilators. I said, “That doesn’t work. Forty thousand?” And they ended up with seven or eight thousand. And they had no problem.
Forty thousand ventilators for one state! It was ridiculous.
He repeats it day after day after day. All three cable news networks still treat this formulaic bafflegab as a species of "BREAKING NEWS."
In this familiar story segment, Trump rolls his eyes at the way "some states [plural] wanted 40,000 ventilators." In truth, this seems to be a reference to Governor Cuomo and the state of New York, where the possible need for that many ventilators was bruited at one point.
In that familiar story segment, Trump ridicules the very idea that any state could have thought it needed so many ventilators. He presents himself as the clear-thinking sage who knew this didn't make sense.
So far, this was a story segment the assembled upper-end journalists had slept through a million times. That said, yesterday evening's performance provided a type of new morning. As he continued, Trump said this.
TRUMP (continuing directly): The scariest day of my life was about a month ago when, after a long day of meetings, my team told me that we were going to be needing 130,000 ventilators. That we were short hundreds of thousands of ventilators.Included here were two mandated points. President Trump "inherited" a mess and the states "were not prepared."
This is the system we inherited. I had governors requesting unreasonable sums that the federal government just didn’t have. And you look at the states, the states didn’t have, the states were not prepared.
That said, please note the numbers Trump presented. Also, consider his logic:
On the scariest day of his life, Bold Leader was told two things.
1) We were going to be needing 130,000 ventilators.Except for the excitement they bring, do those numbers make sense? If we were short hundreds of thousands of ventilators, why were we going to need only 130,000?
2) Also, we were short "hundreds of thousands" of ventilators.
As the president praised himself, a puzzle seemed to reside in his numbers. Now, though, consider his logic, a logic which goes like this:
Trump had started by mocking Cuomo for thinking that the state of New York might need as many as 40,000 ventilators. It turned out that New York hasn't needed nearly that many, the self-confessed clear thinker said. (We can't vouch for Trump's specific numbers.)
Trump started by mocking Cuomo for acting on excessive projections. But in his very next breath, Trump seemed to say that he himself accepted and acted on projections of need which turned out to be excessive.
Trump also acted on excessive projections? We know that because of the thrilling way his heroic story proceeded:
TRUMP (continuing directly): I knew that every person who needed a ventilator and didn’t get one would die. And that’s what we were told. They would die. I saw another country’s doctors having to make decisions on who got a ventilator and who didn’t.Today, the president is taking further action to "maximize our oversupply." Try to ignore that odd locution. Instead, consider this:
And I knew that this would be a defining challenge of the crisis. Those that didn’t get ventilators were said to be in a position, only of one alternative, and that was death.
Would we be able to prevent Americans from dying because we couldn’t get them ventilators? And the ventilators that they needed and they needed immediately. I instructed my team to move heaven and earth to make sure that this didn’t happen.
We started to smartly ration and distribute the ventilators that we had and that others had. And I got daily updates on the supply we had, from requests coming in and people wanting to have updates. We had a great group of people working on it. I instructed my team to use the Defense Protection Act.
And the Defense Production Act was used very powerfully, more powerfully than anybody would know. In fact, so powerfully that for the most part, we didn’t have to officially take it out. It was a hammer. It was a very powerful hammer, in order to manufacture as many ventilators as possible.
Last year, America manufactured, from a dead start, 30,000 ventilators. And this year the number will be over 150,000 ventilators. It could be as high as 200,000, far more than we’ll ever need. So we’ll be able to stockpile, we’ll be able to talk to states about stockpiling.
These are high quality ventilators. We had a choice. We could do inexpensive, less productive ventilators or high quality. We’ve done a high quality ventilator, so we should have anywhere from 150 to 200,000 ventilators.
In addition to that, we have 10,000 ventilators right now in the federal stockpile ready to move, should we need them. We might not. Should we need them in New York, or New Jersey, or in Louisiana, or in Illinois, or any other state that may need them, if we have a surge.
I’d like to ask Adam Bowler to come up and just say a few words. He’s done a fantastic job. A young man who worked 24 hours a day on handling this situation. And I’d just like to have Adam, wherever he may be, come up and say a few words. Adam, please. Thank you very much.
[Bowler wastes additional time saying a few pointless words]
TRUMP: I’d shake his hand, but I’m not allowed to. Times have changed, haven’t they? Thank you very much. You did a fantastic job. We’re very proud of you and your whole team. Thank you.
Today, we are taking further action to maximize our oversupply and available—to maximize our oversupply in available ventilators.
According to this hero tale, our oversupply of ventilators—"far more than we'll ever need!"—occurred because President Trump, like Governor Cuomo, accepted the accuracy of projections of possible need. It seems that Trump, mot unlike Cuomo, accepted "what we were told."
Because Cuomo accepted those projections, his conduct has been characterized as "ridiculous" over and over and over again in free-of-charge prime-time broadcasts. But when Trump accepted those projections, it became a sign of his greatness.
Nonsense like this occurs every minute of every day in these inane "daily briefings." And as Trump presents nonsensical claims and ludicrous tales, he also behaves like this:
He routinely interrupts journalists before they can get a question out, moving directly to one of his favorite monologues.
If a journalist does get a question out, he presents long, meandering non-answers—non-answers he proceeds to repeat if the question is asked again.
Routinely, he insults journalists whose questions he doesn't like.
Increasingly, if a journalist directs a question to Dr. Fauci (and they very rarely do), he doesn't let Fauci answer.
All this is broadcast live, in prime time, by our flailing "cable news" channels. Increasingly, CNN and MSNBC have started breaking away to provide fact-checks and context, but these channels have still failed to offer warnings like this to their viewers:
WARNING: What you are watching is likely to be misleading, inaccurate or irrelevant, or to make no earthly sense.This brings us back to Kaitlan Collins, who is still just 28. In 2017, CNN hired her away from The Daily Caller.
She was even younger then. Her resume was strikingly thin.
At the time, we wondered why CNN had hired her. Over the course of the past year, we've seen that CNN made a very good hire.
Yesterday, Collins once again tried to break through the enabling of this disordered man. We hope her colleagues are watching the way she conducts herself.
Has the White House Correspondents' Association (current president, Jonathan Karl) ever lodged a polite but public formal complaint about the interruptions and the insults? This is a rather desultory crew. We're going to guess that they hasn't.
Yesterday, the latest edition of The Ventilator Monologues didn't quite seem to make sense. In fairness, the sheer stupidity of our discourse didn't start with Trump.
It was there all through the 1990s, routinely driven by the mainstream press. Eventually, this never-ending dumbness helped give us our Trump.
Journalists refuse to discuss this history. For that reason, we liberals have strongly tended to sleep through this problem too.
Tomorrow: What Collins did
Friday: Bad practices up the yazoo