President Trump has used a daily White House COVID-19 news conference to launch a blistering broadside against the US media.
In a lengthy monologue he threw accusations against news organisations, reserving the majority of his criticism for The New York Times. One television network described it as “the biggest meltdown from a US president” they’d ever seen.
At one point the he played a video produced by White House staff which included a montage of select clips of state governors praising him for his handling of the crisis.
“You’re a fake, you know you’re a fake,” he argued with one reporter when she asked him what the administration had done to stop the spread of COVID-19 during February. “You’re disgraceful, you’re so disgraceful.”
Rather than using the platform to pay tribute to the hundreds of Americans who lost their lives to coronavirus over the past twenty four hours, the president repeatedly listed what he’d done well.
“We’ve done this right, we’ve really done this right, the problem is the press doesn’t cover it.”
When challenged, he said the video had been put together in a couple of hours by White House staff and he had “hundreds of other statements, better clips” he could have shown.
Asked what authority he had to re-open the country, as opposed to the power of state governors to decide, Mr Trump claimed “I have the ultimate authority”.
This is in conflict with an earlier statement by six eastern US state governors, including New York and New Jersey, who said it was left to them to decide when to lockdown states and it was therefore their responsibility when they re-opened.
CNN broadcast the news conference live but with accompanying graphics accusing the president of turning the briefing into “a propaganda session” and trying to “rewrite history”.
Multiple news networks cutaway from the conference as it was ongoing, protesting that the president was wrongly using the session to campaign rather than update on the health crisis sweeping the US.