Stephanie Grisham: If Media Loved America, They’d Help Spread Trump’s Coronavirus Lies


Part-time White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham can't avoid the burdens of her job now that the country is facing a global pandemic and economic collapse. Grisham whined to Howard Kurtz on Fox News Sunday about the mean reporters she's just meeting for the first time who won't let up about how Donald Trump destroyed the country. What's done is done. That's Grisham's motto.

GRISHAM: The president didn't have a crystal ball there.

No, Trump didn't have access to fortune teller technology, but he did have intel community warnings in January that China was lying about the spread of the coronavirus. He also had Barack Obama's global pandemic team that he exchanged for a bag of magic beans. He also had researchers in Seattle, Washington, who wanted to test people for the coronavirus as early as January but the federal government refused. (A heroic doctor went rogue and performed tests anyway.) Trump consistently downplayed the impact of the coronavirus until it was too late, and now everyone is trapped at home with their families.

Stephanie Grisham: 'I don't know why the media has to continued to look backwards'

GRISHAM: [Trump] acted appropriately from the beginning.

That's just, like, your opinion, lady, but it's not based in any observable reality. If Trump supposedly did everything right, and we're still fucked, that's not encouraging. What's the plan? Trump will continue “acting appropriately" while bodies pile up in overwhelmed hospitals?

GRISHAM: I don't think it's appropriate right now for the press to be going backwards. There's no reason to go backwards and figure out tick tocks of what happened when.

What did the president know and when did he know it is a classic for a reason.

GRISHAM: We've got a crisis on our hands! We've got a coronavirus in this country. And the press — they've got a real opportunity, if you ask me, to also spread great information to this public.

The press uncritically spreading Trump's snake oil and propaganda isn't a “great opportunity." It's an active threat to national security. The reason it's important to focus on all the many things Trump did wrong is because it would hold his administration accountable. The president himself personally denies any responsibility for the hot mess the country is in. That doesn't inspire confidence that he is capable of improving the situation. Also, despite his recent impeachment and destruction of the country, Trump is still running for re-election. Go figure! If he forfeited the presidential race to Joe Biden, we could talk about treating the rest of 2020 as his senior skip week, but Trump wants us to let him keep steering America into icebergs.

Kurtz pointed out that examining the president's record is the job of a free press. Grisham looked confused, like the only press she had any real experience with was the device she used to make her coffee. Kurtz reminded her of when our level-headed commander in chief flipped out on NBC's Peter Alexander, who'd asked Trump if he was giving Americans “false hope" with his goofball claims. Grisham insisted that it's the president's job to lie to Americans.

GRISHAM: The reporter was asking if he's giving false hope to the American people, I think that was inappropriate. He's the commander-in-chief, he's at the helm of this country and it is his job as president to try and comfort this country and make sure that they know that we're working towards options that will help people.

Trump shouting that Krypton is so not doomed while Krypton is in fact doomed is not “comfort" or leadership. It's irresponsible and doesn't prepare Americans for what's ahead. (Note: Conservatives frequently bashed Obama for living in a hope-scented dream world about “radical Islamic" terrorism.)

Grisham ended her interview with some advice for the media:

GRISHAM: Right now, [the media] needs to put aside their bias against this president. They need to do what this White House is doing and show leadership. And try to get information to the American public. That is their job as journalists.

No, the media's “job" isn't to make Trump look less craven and incompetent in the name of “patriotism" and “unity." Journalism's first duty is to the truth and that will always ensure an antagonistic relationship with Trump.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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