President Trump is not exactly helping the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, it could be confidently argued that he is endangering public health with his unfortunate remarks.
We are shown examples, time and again, of people openly questioning and contradicting Mr Trump, and this is often well received, especially by liberal opponents. There is a serious problem with this tactic, though. It feeds Trump. He is not someone starved of attention, in spite of his childish attempts to suggest the contrary; he is the most powerful man in the world, so why are the media jumping to his bait?
He criticizes the media constantly. They in turn respond by trying to ridicule and ‘expose’ him. However, Trump loves exposure, and it adds unnecessary media time. “Trump responds to critics” is a title that should be followed by an action, not a verbal or written response. While the USA and the world at large look for decisive action, words are simply not enough and the media are allowing too much to be said, distracting from what we need – clarity of purpose and action. Without those, we are in deep trouble and to this end, the media should reduce their interaction with the president, and let his actions (or lack thereof) speak for him.
His incompetence and recklessness do not need to be interpreted; they are self-evident truths. More time than necessary is given to listening to him. It allows his mistruths to stay in public discourse long enough to persuade some who are normally not easily misled.
Mr Trump should not be mocked, if only because it may make his supporters defensive and even more ardent. Report what he says, report what he does, but do not engage him on it; it gives him the chance to misdirect, deflect, and extend his reign of lies. Like a child having a tantrum, you don’t exacerbate their tantrum with a response.