- President Trump received backlash online after boasting about the TV ratings from his coronavirus briefing.
- Many users criticized the president for his remarks while confirmed cases and deaths from the coronavirus continue to grow significantly in the U.S.
- The tweets also furthered a debate about whether or not Trump’s briefings should be broadcast live on media outlets, with critics arguing that he often uses the time to spread misinformation.
- Others argue that cutting Trump’s briefings amounts to censorship.
Trump Gets Backlash for Ratings Tweets
President Donald Trump stirred up another controversy on Sunday after boasting about the ratings from his daily coronavirus news briefings.
“Because the ‘Ratings’ of my News Conferences etc. are so high, ‘Bachelor finale, Monday Night Football type numbers’ according to the @nytimes, the Lamestream Media is going CRAZY,” the president tweeted.
A little while later, Trump tweeted several excerpts from the same New York Times article he referenced early.
Numerous people took to Twitter to criticize Trump for bragging about his ratings while so many Americans are dying.
“More Americans have died from coronavirus than during the attack on Pearl Harbor and Trump is talking about ratings?” Scott Dworkin, the host of the podcast the Dworkin report, wrote in a tweet.
“While bodies were being placed on the back of a refrigerated truck outside Brooklyn hospital, America’s President was boasting about his #coronavirus press conferences television ratings,” tweeted pastor, activist, and radio host Bishop Talbert Swan.
Prominent conservative commentators also chimed in, like Ben Shapiro, who appeared to condemn Trump’s remarks while also accusing others of doing the same.
Celebrities like John Legend and Chrissy Teigen also jumped in to slam Trump and his remarks.
What the Article Actually Says
Others, however, pointed out that the president had inaccurately quoted the Times article and taken it out of content.
There are several things to note here. First of all, the article, written by Michael Grynbaum, is titled, “Trump’s Briefings Are a Ratings Hit. Should Networks Cover Them Live?”
“The president’s viewership has rivaled the audiences for hit reality shows and prime-time football,” the tagline reads. “But some worry about misinformation.”
In the very first sentence, Grynbaum opens the article, writing, “President Trump is a ratings hit, and some journalists and public health experts say that could be a dangerous thing.”
But when you look at Trump’s tweet he only includes the very first sentence, then skips the next part and moves on to the excerpt about ratings.
“And the audience is expanding even as Mr. Trump has repeatedly delivered information that doctors and public health officials have called ill informed, misleading or downright wrong,” Grynbaum continues.
The article then goes on to say that while journalists have long debated how to report on Trump’s “fabrications,” the coronavirus pandemic has “raised the stakes.”
“Now, the president’s critics say, lives are at risk,” Grynbaum writes.
Debate on Airing Trump’s Briefings
Grynbaum’s article brings up an important and growing debate over whether or not Trump’s press briefings should even be aired.
For a while now, those in favor of the idea have argued that Trump has been using his daily press briefings to lie, downplay the coronavirus, and generally spread misinformation, and as a result, it is in the public interest to stop airing them.
This is a point that has been made by a number of prominent journalists in recent weeks.
“If he keeps lying like he has been everyday on stuff this important, we should— all of us should stop broadcasting it, honestly. It’s going to cost lives,” Rachel Maddow said on her show a few weeks ago.
That sentiment was also echoed by Maddow’s fellow MSNBC anchor, Joe Scarborough.
“There is no public benefit to this briefing,” the Morning Joe host tweeted. “The networks should all cut away.”
Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan also wrote an op-ed around the same time as Maddow’s remarks, arguing that the media should stop broadcasting Trump’s “dangerous, destructive coronavirus briefings.”
“More and more each day, President Trump is using his daily briefings as a substitute for the campaign rallies that have been forced into extinction by the spread of the novel coronavirus,” she wrote.
The idea seemed to gain momentum on Sunday following Trump’s controversial remarks about his ratings. More people began calling for networks to cut the briefings, and #BoycottTrumpPressConferences trended on Twitter.
Outlets Take Action
Some outlets have already taken action. Last week, the local NPR station in Seattle, KUOW, announced in a tweet that it would no longer be airing the president’s coronavirus press conferences.
The station explained that it would still cover the briefings, but that it would not broadcast them live “due to a pattern of false or misleading information provided that cannot be fact checked in real time.”
One day early, five of the six major networks stopped airing the briefing partway through.
According to the Associated Press, the networks ABC, CBS and NBC cut away after the first 20 minutes, while CNN and MSNBC held out a little longer, and only Fox stuck it out to the end.
White House spokesman Judd Deere criticized CNN and MSNBC in a tweet for cutting early, calling the move “disgraceful.”
A CNN reporter responded in another tweet, quoting a spokesperson who said: “If the White House wants to ask for time on the network, they should make an official request. Otherwise we will make our own editorial decisions.”
CBS also made a similar comment, but MSNBC took a much harder stance, with a representative telling reporters that they, “cut away because the information no longer appeared to be valuable to the important ongoing discussion around public health.”
However, on the other side, some have argued that cutting the press briefings amounts to censorship.
See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (Axios) (Fox News)
SCOTUS Rules in Favor of Police in Two Qualified Immunity Cases
The move further solidifies the contentious legal doctrine that protects officers who commit alleged constitutional violations.
SCOTUS Hears Qualified Immunity Cases
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of police in two separate cases involving qualified immunity, the controversial legal doctrine that shields officers accused of violating constitutional rights from lawsuits.
The topic has become a major flashpoint in debates over police reform and curbing police violence since the protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the summer of 2020.
On one side, supporters of qualified immunity claim it is necessary to ensure that police can do their jobs without worrying about frivolous lawsuits.
However, opponents argue that judicial interpretations of the doctrine over time have given police incredibly broad legal immunity for misconduct and use of excessive force. Under a previous Supreme Court ruling, in order for officers to be held liable, plaintiffs have to show that they violated rights “clearly established” by a previous ruling.
In other words, officers cannot be held liable unless there is another case that involves almost identical circumstances.
As a result, many argue the doctrine creates a Catch-22: Officers are shielded from liability because there is no past precedent, but the reason there is no past precedent is because officers are shielded from liability in the first place.
An Ongoing Debate
Critics argue that the two cases the Supreme Court saw Monday illustrate that double bind, as both involved accusations of excessive force commonly levied against police.
In one case, officers used non-lethal bean bag rounds against a suspect and knelt on his back to subdue him. In the other, police shot and killed a suspect after he threatened them with a hammer.
The justices overturned both lower-court rulings without ordering full briefing and argument because of the lack of precedent. The court issued the decisions in unsigned orders with no dissent, signaling they did not even see the cases as close calls.
Advocates for qualified immunity claim the decisions signal that the current Supreme Court is not open to changing qualified immunity, and the most likely path for opponents of the doctrine is legislation.
While Democrats in Congress have made numerous efforts to limit qualified immunity, including most recently in the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act passed by the House earlier this year, all those attempts have been blocked by Republicans.
At the state level, dozens of bills have been killed after heavy lobbying from police unions. As a result, it remains unclear what path proponents for reform have at this juncture.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (The New York Times) (The Washington Post)
Florida School Says Students Vaccinated Against COVID-19 Must Stay Home for 30 Days
The school falsely claimed that people who have just been vaccinated risk “shedding” the coronavirus and could infect others.
Centner Academy Vaccination Policy
A private school in Florida is now requiring all students who get vaccinated against COVID-19 to quarantine for 30 days before returning to class.
According to the local Miami outlet WSVN, Centner Academy wrote a letter to parents last week describing COVID vaccines as “experimental” and citing anti-vaccine misinformation.
“If you are considering the vaccine for your Centner Academy student(s), we ask that you hold off until the Summer when there will be time for the potential transmission or shedding onto others to decrease,” the letter reportedly stated.
“Because of the potential impact on other students and our school community, vaccinated students will need to stay at home for 30 days post-vaccination for each dose and booster they receive and may return to school after 30 days as long as the student is healthy and symptom-free.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has debunked the false claim that those newly vaccinated against COVID-19 can “shed” the virus.
According to the agency’s COVID myths page, vaccine shedding “can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus,” but “none of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.”
In fact, early research has suggested that vaccinated people are less likely to spread the virus than unvaccinated people.
Beyond that, unvaccinated people are more likely to spread COVID in general because they are much more likely to get the virus than vaccinated people. According to recently published CDC data, as of August, unvaccinated people were six times more likely to get COVID than vaccinated people and 11 times more likely to die from the virus.
Centner Academy Continues Spread of Misinformation
In a statement to The Washington Post Monday, Centner Academy co-founder David Centner doubled down on the school’s new policy, which he described as a “precautionary measure” based on “numerous anecdotal cases that have been in circulation.”
“The school is not opining as to whether unexplained phenomena have a basis in fact, however we prefer to err on the side of caution when making decisions that impact the health of the school community,” he added.
The new rule echoes similar efforts Centner Academy has made that run counter to public health guidance and scientific knowledge.
In April, the school made headlines when its leadership told vaccinated school employees that they were not allowed to be in contact with any students “until more information is known” and encouraged employees to wait until summer to get the jab.
According to The New York Times, the following week, a math and science teacher allegedly told students not to hug their vaccinated parents for more than five seconds.
The outlet also reported that the school’s other co-founder, Leila Centner, discouraged masking, but when state health officials came for routine inspections, teachers said they were directed in a WhatsApp group to put masks on.
See what others are saying: (WSVN) (The Washington Post) (Business Insider)
Katie Couric Says She Edited Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote About Athletes Kneeling During National Anthem
Couric said she omitted part of a 2016 interview in order to “protect” the justice.
Kate Couric Edited Quote From Justice Ginsburg
In her upcoming book, journalist Katie Couric admitted to editing a quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in 2016 in order to “protect” Ginsberg from potential criticism.
Couric interviewed the late justice for an article in Yahoo News. During their discussion, she asked Ginsburg about her thoughts on athletes like Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
“I think it’s really dumb of them,” Ginsburg is quoted saying in the piece. “Would I arrest them for doing it? No. I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”
According to The Daily Mail and The New York Post, which obtained advance copies of Couric’s book “Going There,” there was more to Ginsburg’s response. Couric wrote that she omitted a portion where Ginsburg said the form of protest showed a “contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life…Which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from.“
Couric Says She Lost Sleep Making Choice
“As they became older they realize that this was youthful folly,” Ginsberg reportedly continued. “And that’s why education is important.“
According to The Daily Mail, Couric wrote that the Supreme Court’s head of public affairs sent an email asking to remove comments about kneeling because Ginsburg had misspoken. Couric reportedly added that she felt a need to “protect” the justice, thinking she may not have understood the question. Couric reached out to her friend, New York Times reporter David Brooks, regarding the matter and he allegedly likewise believed she may have been confused by the subject.
Couric also wrote that she was a “big RBG fan” and felt her comments were “unworthy of a crusader for equality.” Because she knew the remarks could land Ginsburg in hot water, she said she “lost a lot of sleep” and felt “conflicted” about whether or not to edit them out.
Couric was trending on Twitter Wednesday and Thursday as people questioned the ethics behind her choice to ultimately cut part of the quote. Some thought the move showed a lack of journalistic integrity while others thought revealing the story now harmed Ginsburg’s legacy.