Donald Trump was up early Tuesday. Before 7 a.m. Eastern, he had already fired out three tweets, all of them about the media. You would think he has better things to worry about at the moment, but that didn’t stop him from continuing his attacks on the news — something that has become a staple of his presidency.
The first tweet Tuesday went out at 6:19 a.m. with the president apparently set off by something he watched on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
The president tweeted, “Watched the first 5 minutes of poorly rated Morning Psycho on MSDNC just to see if he is as ‘nuts’ as people are saying. He’s worse. Such hatred and contempt! I used to do his show all the time before the 2016 election, then cut him off. Wasn’t worth the effort, his mind is shot!”
Less than a half hour later, at 6:40, Trump attacked the media by tweeting, “It is amazing that I became President of the United States with such a totally corrupt and dishonest Lamestream Media going after me all day, and all night. Either I’m really good, far better than the Fake News wants to admit, or they don’t have nearly the power as once thought!”
About 15 minutes later, at 6:57, he went back to how many people are watching the White House coronavirus news conferences. He tweeted, “I’ve had great ‘ratings’ my whole life, there’s nothing unusual about that for me. The White House News Conference ratings are ‘through the roof’(Monday Night Football, Bachelor Finale, @nytimes) but I don’t care about that. I care about going around the Fake News to the PEOPLE!”
Trump has a contentious relationship with the media, but it’s grown worse in the daily White House press conferences when Trump’s statements and actions regarding coronavirus are fact-checked and questioned by the media. In just the past month, he has clashed pretty much every day with someone in the media, usually because he’s asked a question that he doesn’t like. In many cases, the question isn’t even finished before Trump goes on the attack.
When Trump lashes out, it only lends credence to the argument that he is using these daily press conferences as campaign rallies. Anything that interrupts the narrative that he’s doing a good job sets him off. In other words, Trump seems to get angry when his rally turns back into its real purpose, which is a press conference about the coronavirus.
That brings us to the larger point in all of this. Regardless of your politics, can’t everyone agree that there is something deeply troubling about Trump’s behavior when he woke up Tuesday morning? After all, instead of worrying about what’s on “Morning Joe” or continuing his never-ending and thin-skinned squabbles with the media, shouldn’t the president of the United States start his day by concentrating on a deadly pandemic that has taken the lives of nearly 43,000 Americans and will undoubtedly kill thousands more?
Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @TomWJones.