Three wrenching weeks of change; Trump’s phoner with Hannity; all-time high searches for ‘unemployment;’ streaming suggestions

Foreign News

Dr. Trump

President Trump‘s remarks on Thursday night suggest that he still doesn’t fundamentally grasp what’s going on with the pandemic.

In a phoner with Sean Hannity, Trump talked about New York state’s scientific projections of the spread of the virus with astonishment and even some doubt. Regarding ventilators, he said officials like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo “say we want 30,000 of them. 30,000! Think of this. You go to hospitals, they’ll have one in a hospital, and now all of a sudden everybody’s asking for these vast numbers.”

Cuomo’s pleas are based on best-in-class modeling and medical expertise. And Trump repeatedly said he has a good relationship with Cuomo… but he still expressed skepticism about the scale of the crisis. He said later, “I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be. I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.”

So that’s where we are. On Wednesday night, CNN Health counted at least 65,273 cases and 938 deaths in the US. Twenty four hours later, the count was up to 82,100 cases and 1,195 deaths.

 >> The New York surge is clearly here…

 >> Devlin Barrett put the situation in NYC into stark relief: “New York City had 319 murders last year. Coronavirus has killed 385, and counting…”

 >> So many other cities are feeling the surge too. Trump’s ex-FDA chief Scott Gottlieb tweeted Thursday: “I’m worried about emerging situations in New Orleans, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, among others..”

No mention of Easter

“Everybody wants to go back to work,” Trump told Hannity, but he never mentioned Easter during his 40-minute call. Trump seems to be stepping back from the get-back-to-normal-by-Easter idea that public health experts roundly rejected.

On the latest installment of CNN’s global town hall about the virus, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the Easter date was “an aspirational projection,” something that would “give people some hope.” But Fauci said Trump is “listening to us when we say we really got to reevaluate it, in real time, and any decision we make has to be based on the data…”

Hannity plays “I’m rubber, you’re glue”

Before Trump called in and said the federal government is merely a backup system for the states, Hannity tore into Cuomo and Bill de Blasio, with a graphic of their faces titled “FAILURE TO PREPARE.”

“Both of you need to stop politicizing this national emergency,” Hannity told them through the TV. Re: politicizing, Hannity said “they should have been more prepared. You need to own up to your mistakes…”

Showing the spike

The WSJ’s banner headline in Friday editions: “U.S. Cases, Jobless Claims Soar.” Subheadline: “Historic run of growth abruptly comes to a close as unemployment claims soar to a record.”

The Journal and other papers have graphics that show that stunning week-over-week surge. The NYT’s front page is the most striking: The entire right column, usually devoted to the day’s top story, is just an upward line on the chart. “The lead story is not a story, just those staggering unemployment numbers shooting straight up,” Jodi Kantorcommented


Unemployment searches hit all-time high

Check out how this Google search data correlates with the country’s heartbreaking unemployment picture: Google Trends says that “searches for #unemployment are at a record high right now.” Worldwide, the top trending Q’s in the past day are “who will get the stimulus package 2020?” and “how to file for unemployment.” More data here…

Three weeks of change…

“The world’s different now than it was last month, or even last week, for that matter,” Dr. Sanjay Gupta said during CNN’s global town hall on Thursday night.

For example: CNN’s first in a series of weekly town halls about the virus on March 5 had Gupta and Anderson Cooper together with a studio audience in NYC. On March 12, the co-hosts were together but without the studio audience for social distancing reasons. On March 19, Cooper was in the NYC studio while Gupta was at CNN Center in Atlanta. This Thursday, no more studios — Cooper and Gupta were both in front of robotic cameras in NYC and Atlanta…


The House will convene at 9am ET with plans to vote on the relief package…

The USNS Mercy will arrive in L.A. sometime Friday…

Gayle King has an interview with Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan on “CBS This Morning…” It was recorded remotely, of course…


Biden town hall on Friday

CNN’s Kate Sullivan writes: “Joe Biden will participate in a live CNN town hall Friday night focused on the coronavirus.” It will air at 8pm ET, with Q’s “submitted by individuals living in some of the communities hit hardest.” Anderson Cooper will moderate and “Biden will join the town hall via satellite from his home studio in Delaware…”


 — Michael Brendan Dougherty tweeted:“Conspiracy theorists who are committed to denying the seriousness of this are complaining that videos of NY hospitals aren’t showing the patients. It’s illegal (and unethical) for nurses and doctors to film them…” (Twitter)

— “Rising local news viewership tracked alongside the regions where the most cases have been reported,” A.J. Katzreports… (TVNewser)

— If anyone claims that the testing problems have been corrected, cite Peggy Noonan: “I went in for a Covid-19 test March 17. I’m feeling much better but still awaiting my results…” (WSJ)

— I don’t think I’ve ever seen this before: The ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliates in DC came together for a joint promo. The tagline: “No matter who you choose, know one thing — we are here for you.” (Twitter)

 — “CNN anchor Brianna Keilarrelentlessly grilled White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on the administration’s lack of preparedness for COVID-19 and told him he was ‘wasting everyone’s time…'” (Beast)

Trump distorts WaPo report to bash “fake news”

Oliver Darcy emails: WaPo reported Thursday on a conference call Trump had with governors. According to the newspaper, Trump said that he will be a “backup” for the states, to which Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said, “We don’t need a backup. We need a Tom Brady.” At the press briefing, Trump confirmed a governor brought up Brady. 

But Trump distorted what WaPo reported. “They think Tom Brady should be leading the effort,” Trump said, referring to the media. “That’s only fake news.” Trump went on to describe the media as “corrupt.” Of course, the whole premise of why he was bashing wasn’t accurate. No one — including members of the media — ever called for Brady to be leading any coronavirus effort. I suppose we are used to Trump assailing members of the press, but this was a truly bizarre way to do it…

The disconnect

Susan Glasser‘s latest for The New Yorker: “The disconnect between Trumpian reality and actual reality has never been on starker display than in the past few days, as the true face of the horror we are facing in the United States has shown itself…”

Trump’s appearances at the WH briefings, Glasser says, “have shown an irresolute leader who does not want to fight the war or even, on many days, admit that it exists. He is a cartoon caricature of a wartime President, not a real one…”


 — Derek Thompson recapping his latest: “We’re in a eerie, early phase of the pandemic where the sheer number of statistics gives the illusion of total information. But most of our data is still flawed or incomplete in critical ways, which makes it easy for bad-faith actors to mislead us. (The Atlantic)

 — Margaret Sullivan‘s latest: “Local journalism needs a coronavirus stimulus plan, too…” (WaPo)

 — Jon Lafayette reports: “Total TV usage was up 18% for the week of March 16 compared to the previous week, according to new figures from Nielsen… Live TV, which has been eroding in recent years, was a 14% increase compared to the previous week. Time-shifted viewing was up 10% and internet connected device use was up 28%. Video game console use was up 35%.” (B&C)

NBCUniversal CEO tests positive

Frank Pallotta emails: NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell told staff in an email on Thursday that he tested positive for the coronavirus. “I recently have been feeling under the weather and just learned that I have tested positive for Covid-19,” Shell wrote. “Although the virus has been tough to cope with, I have managed to work remotely in LA and am improving every day.”

Shell, who succeeded Steve Burke in January, added that it is “absolutely critical” that employees work from home if they can. “In the short term, the goals are simple,” he wrote. “Take care of each other and take care of our viewers.”

“Coronavirus Ad Blocking Is Starving Some News Sites Of Revenue”

That’s the headline on Craig Silverman‘s latest for BuzzFeed News: “Fears that its ads would appear next to news stories about the coronavirus pandemic led one major global brand to drastically reduce the number of digital ads it placed on the websites of the New York Times, CNN, USA Today, and the Washington Post in March, according to internal data obtained by BuzzFeed News. In total, more than 2 million ads were blocked from appearing on these sites in the first three weeks of the month. The data paints the first specific picture of how a broad advertiser pullout has damaged the bottom lines at news sites at the same time as readership on those sites has spiked.”


By Oliver Darcy:

 — Joe Pompeo points out that “the front lines of the Covid-19 war are in the world’s media capital” and looks at how journalists have brought “harrowing hospital images to screens across America…” (Vanity Fair)

 — Andrew Marantz examines social media in the time of coronavirus. One (of the many) good points he makes: “A bad tweet, morally speaking, is often a good tweet, judging strictly by the numbers…” (New Yorker)

 — Chuck Todd observed Thursday that the country “basically experiences two briefings every day” — one that is Trump’s “take on his personal political status” and the other, led by VP Mike Pence, which puts more emphasis on data and information from experts… (Twitter)

 — “Covid-19 represents a watershed moment,” Rebecca Keegan writes, “one that is accelerating current trends in media consumption and forcing Hollywood to embrace its digital future…” (THR)

Alex Jones loses (another) appeal

Oliver Darcy emails: Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones can’t snap his losing streak in court. HuffPost’s Sebastian Murdockreported Thursday that Jones has lost yet another appeal in one of the Sandy Hook lawsuits he is facing. The judge, according to HuffPost, ordered Jones to pay more than $20,000 in legal fees related to the appeal. Jones now owes more than $150,000 legal fees in the case, and it hasn’t even gone to trial yet… 


By Katie Pellico:

 — From Poynter’s Kristen Hare: “We’re all in this together, and the work of local news shows it…” (Poynter)

 — Mathew Ingram‘s Media Today newsletter addresses “How metro papers are dealing with the pressure of COVID-19…” (CJR)

 — Flipboard is expanding its local coverage, working with news partners in 12 metro areas including Detroit and Tampa Bay, “and is adding critical coronavirus local coverage” to the 35 cities now supported in total… (TechCrunch)

 — ICYMI: “In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Warwick Beacon, which has published twice a week since the 1970s, has dropped to once a week, and its publisher has laid off eight people, including himself…” (Providence Journal)

Vermont newspaper announces final issue, in final issue


Katie Pellicoemails: Vermont’s Waterbury Recordannounced its “own demise” on its front page Thursday. “After 13 years of publication, this will be the last issue of the Waterbury Record.” Publisher Greg Popa is quoted in the story: “Clearly, this decision is precipitated by the coronavirus crisis, but it’s also about economics. The Record has never been profitable, but we were in this for the long haul. We started publishing the paper in 2007 to fill a news desert in a community we felt was on the upswing.”

>> Vermont alt-weekly Seven Days panned out the dire state of local papers (including its own): “In the past two weeks, the Milton IndependentEssex Reporter and Colchester Sunsuspended their print editions; theAddison County IndependentRutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus reduced the frequency of their print editions; and Seven Days, the Valley News, Brattleboro ReformerBennington BannerManchester JournalHerald and Times Argusannounced layoffs or furloughs.”

“In a time of crisis, facts matter most.”

CNN introduced a new iteration in its “Facts First” ad campaign this week:


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