For New Pittsburgh Courier
The coronavirus pandemic has shown the nation once again why President Donald Trump is unfit to be commander-in-chief.
The president is tasked with leading the nation through the worst public health crisis in the modern era and a looming recession.
Trump has spent much of his presidency speaking only to his conservative base and continues to do so even in the midst of a pandemic that threatens the lives of all Americans regardless of their political affiliation.
This is a major test of presidential leadership and Trump is failing.
He initially downplayed the pandemic and made exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims about possible cures and when Americans could return to work.
He has also slipped into familiar but dangerous antics of pre-pandemic partisanship by attacking journalists who question him and prominent Democrats. He continues to act as if he is an expert in areas—the latest being public health—in which he has no expertise.
Trump viciously attacked an NBC News reporter who asked what his message would be to Americans who are frightened by the coronavirus pandemic that is spreading across the country.
The exchange, which occurred at the White House’s daily coronavirus task force briefing, began when NBC News reporter Peter Alexander asked Trump whether he was giving Americans “false hope” by touting unproven coronavirus drugs.
Toward the end of the exchange, Alexander cited the latest pandemic statistics showing thousands of Americans are now infected and millions are scared.
Alexander asked, “What do you say to Americans who are scared?”
Trump, shaking his head, ripped into Alexander in response.
“I say that you are a terrible reporter,” Trump replied. “That’s what I say.”
The president proceeded to launch into an extended rant against Alexander, saying he asked a “nasty question” and assailing NBC and its parent company, Comcast.
“You’re doing sensationalism,” Trump charged. “And the same with NBC and Comcast. I don’t call it Comcast. I call it ‘Con-Cast.’”
“Let me just tell you something,” Trump added. “That’s really bad reporting. And you ought to get back to reporting instead of sensationalism.”
He also attacked PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor, who pointed out that Trump had said he did not believe that governors actually need all the equipment they claimed they did to treat COVID-19 patients. Trump said, “I didn’t say that” even though he said it on Fox News.
When Alcindor pressed Trump at the March 29 briefing about his statement, Trump interrupted her several times and told her, “Be nice. Don’t be threatening.”
A couple of weeks ago, he also called Alcindor’s question “nasty” when she asked him about the closing of the pandemic response unit within the National Security Council in 2018.
The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) are right to stand firmly against Trump’s “unacceptable treatment” of Alcindor.
“It is not the job of journalists to be ‘nice,’ but to hold public officials accountable, a role that cannot be understated when misinformation runs rampant at White House briefings on the deadly pandemic that threatens hundreds of thousands of lives.”
Trump has also threatened to withhold federal support from “the woman in Michigan”—referring to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat—and insulting her with a childish nickname on social media.
He has also had similar un-presidential exchanges with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Governors from both major parties are challenging the Trump administration’s assertion that the nation is well-stocked to test and care for coronavirus patients.
However, his worst exchanges appear to be reserved for women and African Americans, with African American females and journalists getting the vilest treatment.
Trump must be rebuked for his behavior and held to account for his pettiness and partisanship and his failure to lead all Americans in this time of crisis.
(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune)