President Donald Trump chided what he called the “angry media” during a press briefing which saw far fewer reporters on hand due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The president directed a somewhat tongue-in-cheek question to Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of his coronavirus task force, during a press conference Monday.
(Source: Fox News)
The briefing room of the White House was sparsely filled as reporters were apparently concerned over an announcement by the White House Correspondents’ Association about a member who was possibly showing symptoms of the coronavirus.
Trump asked Birx about the “social distancing” recommendations in dealing with the virus, noting the empty seats between members of the press gathered in the room.
“I have a question for you. So we have a lot of very angry media all around this room and they want one of these seats,” Trump began.”But because of social distancing, we are keeping them empty and they are keeping them empty.”
“Will there ever be a time when all of those really angry, angry people — who don’t like me much to start off with, but now they really don’t like me — will there ever be a time when these seats are full, like full to the brim like it used to be?” the president asked.
“Where people are almost sitting on each other’s lap and this whole row over here is packed. And now they’re outside wanting to get in and they’re very jealous of all of these reporters,” he added. “Will we ever have that again or is that something that will be -— it will look like this forever?”
“We’re learning a lot about social distancing and respiratory diseases,” Birx began to respond, as Trump looked back and chuckled over the question with Attorney General William Barr.
“Those are the discussions we have to have in the future,” she continued, pivoting away from Trump’s focus on the media in his question.
Birx continued, talking about the new “awareness” in society as she brought up questions she asked herself over the weekend about what she had touched or whether she washed her hands. Birx had revealed during the briefing that she had a low-grade fever over the weekend, prompting the president to jokingly sprint away from her.
Trump pressed the physician again on what future press briefings will look like.
“When the virus is gone, will the people be allowed to sit next to each other again, in your opinion, in a tight room,” he said, pointing at the members of the press in front of them.
Birx again did not directly answer the president’s question, but noted that “this is the way we set up every clinic around the world when we’re worried about TB and TB transmissions.”
Earlier in the briefing, Trump had promised that “America will be open for business very soon,” suggesting that he could be looking at lifting social distancing guidelines sooner rather than later.
“We haven’t announced a date, but we are getting fairly close with coming up with a date,” he told reporters.