Topic: Media Research Center
In the Media Research Center's gaslighting narrative, President Trump has behaved perfectly throughout the coronavirus pandemic, and any reporter who asks him even a remotely challenging question during his daily press briefings is a hateful liberal who's trying to showboat and tout his or her own ego (as if they could be more egomanical than Trump).
One victim of this biased, fanciful portrayal is NBC's Peter Alexander. Here's how Kyle Drennen described his reasonable March 30 questioning of Trump, under the hyperbolic clickbait headline "Trump SMACKS DOWN NBC’s Alexander for Being ‘Terrible Reporter’":
During Friday’s coronavirus press conference at the White House, NBC correspondent Peter Alexander decided that it was more important to get into an argument with President Trump than actually keep the American people informed about the global pandemic. The reporter began his nasty line of questioning by accusing the President of spreading “false hope” – until Trump shut him down.
“Is it possible that your impulse to put a positive spin on things may be giving Americans a false sense of hope by misrepresenting the preparedness right now?,” Alexander hurled at the President, referencing experimental medical treatments for COVID-19. Trump sarcastically remarked, “Such a lovely question,” before explaining: “Look, it may work and it may not work....I feel good about it, that’s all it is, just a feeling.”
Moments later, still seemingly upset by the President’s sense of optimism, Alexander decided to play on people’s fear to create a headline: “What do you say to Americans who are scared, though, I guess. Nearly 200 dead, 14,000 who are sick. Millions, as you witnessed, who are scared right now. What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?”
The President had clearly had enough and let Alexander have it:
None of those questions were actually about eliciting important medical or safety information for the American people. The only purpose of those questions was to point fingers of blame and start a fight with President that would make good television.
In other words, Drennen is complaining that Alexander wouldn't be a stenographer for Trump and push whatever the talking point of the day was.
In case you didn't really believe that the MRC thinks that merely questioning Trump makes a reporter a liberal egomaniac, a post the same day by Curtis Houck cited Alexander as the purveyor of "another embarrassing display of self-centeredness by groaning journalists about how President Donald Trump doesn’t like them,"going on to sneer that "there’s no profession that loves itself more than the liberal media" and "many journalists are incredibly thin-skinned when presented with criticism from outside their Statist bubbles in New York and Washington D.C."
Houck, of course, is ensconced in his own right-wing media bubble in which any journalist who isn't a Trump shill is an enemy.
Never mind that Alexander was tossing Trump a softball question, as he pointed out later, "an opportunity to reassure the millions of Americans, members of my own family and my neighbors and my community and plenty of people sitting at home." That Trump's response was as unhinged as it was, Alexander wrote, showed that "this is a president whose experiences in life are very different than most Americans across this country right now," not someone who has ever worried about finances or his future or paying bills.
That, of course, did not go over well at the MRC either. Drennen complained that Alexander's statement "implied that Trump is too rich to relate to people."
Nicholas Fondacaro, meanwhile, lost it when CNN's John King called Trump's unhinged behavior against Alexander a "bullshit attack," going on to huff that "Alexander’s question was an underhanded attempt to accuse the President of spreading “false hope” in a time of crisis. As things got heated, Trump responded by accurately noting Alexander was engaging in sensationalism." Fondacaro went on to sneer: "Without evidence, [CNN's Dana] Bash also suggested Alexander was an 'objective reporter,'" then touted a profanity-laced attack on Alexander by right-wing Fox News commentator Brit Hume, who huffed, "Legitimate question my a**. It was the kind of bullsh*t gotcha question which hack WH reporters have been asking for decades." Fondacaro laughably claimed that Hume was "bringing a taste of reality back to the situation."
Tim Graham served up his own version of the Alexander-Trump exchange:
When reporters challenge Trump, they are presumed to be brilliant. NBC’s Peter Alexander asked about potential drug treatments to inhibit the virus: “Is it possible that your impulse to put a positive spin on things may be giving Americans a false sense of hope by misrepresenting the preparedness right now?” Trump admitted he was talking about “a feeling” he had. Then Alexander insisted “Nearly 200 dead, 14,000 who are sick. Millions, as you witnessed, who are scared right now. What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?”
Alexander claimed this was a “softball,” but it clearly exaggerated the number of “sick,” since thousands have recovered, and not every “confirmed case” even gets symptoms. That’s when Trump called him a “terrible reporter.” Alexander’s question was loaded, and so was the aftermath. NBCNews.com posted this headline: “Trump, promoting unproven drug treatments, insults NBC reporter at coronavirus briefing.”
That's the story the MRC has to tell themselves and their followers: Every question that sets Trump off is "loaded," and Trump is always right to be set off.