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President Trump on Monday used the White House briefing room to lash out at critics of his response to the coronavirus outbreak, rattling off a litany of grievances about press coverage and airing a reel of cable news footage that portrayed his actions in a positive light.
The president sought to use a briefing ostensibly intended to inform the American public about the latest developments in the battle against the virus to frame his handling of the pandemic as a success. He bristled at any criticism and picking a fight with journalists in the room before experts delivered any update on the disease that has killed more than 22,000 in the U.S.
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U.S. President Donald Trump gestures towards a multimedia presentation created by the White House to defend the president’s response to the coronavirus outbreak as he stands beside Vice President Mike Pence during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 13, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis
“I would love to be able to say that we have a very honest press… and I don’t mind being criticized, but not when they’re wrong,” he said. “Not when people have done such a great job.”
The president’s opening remarks appeared to be an extension of his weekend Twitter storm in which he stewed over a New York Times story that found he was warned repeatedly about the threat of a potential pandemic.
Trump has been particularly sensitive to criticism that he was slow to respond to the virus and has blamed the press, governors and the World Health Organization (WHO), among others, for the rising number of cases and lack of preparedness.
But Monday’s press briefing marked a striking extension of his defense, using the briefing room to air a campaign-style clip and complaining repeatedly that he has not received a fair amount of praise in news stories.
“The press has not treated these incredible people who have done such a great job, they haven’t treated them fairly. They’re way off. We were way ahead of schedule,” Trump said. “Everything we did I was criticized because I was too early.”
He repeatedly highlighted his decision to restrict travel from China in late January before there were any virus-related deaths confirmed in the U.S., arguing he did so sooner than many experts and lawmakers suggested was necessary.
The world is battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Pictured) A person wearing a protective face mask walks by the Robert Indiana sculpture “LOVE” at John F. Kennedy Plaza in Philadelphia on April 13.
People walk taking care of social distance during a rainy day on April 13 in New York.
Beds fill a structure at a coronavirus isolation and quarantine complex for homeless on April 13 in Las Vegas.
Artwork by Lacey Gamble, a recently furloughed employee at Disney World, displays messages and Disney characters she drew with chalk on a sidewalk outside her apartment as a plea for help with unemployment benefits on April 13 in Windermere, Florida.
Street performer Robert John Burck, known as The Naked Cowboy, plays guitar amid coronavirus concern in the almost deserted Times Square on April 13 in New York.
The pavement is washed inside the reopened Municipal Fish Market after the it was temporarily closed last week during the coronavirus pandemic on April 13 in Washington, D.C.
People play pickleball on an empty street during the coronavirus pandemic on April 13 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Store employees work to stock shelves at a ShopRite supermarket on April 13 in Plainview, New York. Grocery stores and supermarkets on Long Island are busy balancing supply chains to keep up with increased consumer demands.
The United Airlines terminal sits empty at San Francisco International Airport on April 12 in San Francisco, California. San Francisco International Airport has a seen a huge decline in daily flights since the coronavirus shelter in place. United Airlines, the airport’s largest carrier with the most daily flights with 290 flights per day before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, has reduced their daily flights to 50 per day.
Firefighters cheered for healthcare workers, who risk their lives to fight against COVID-19 in New York City on April 12.
Streets are seen empty due to COVID-19 pandemic in New York City on April 12.
Empty seats are seen during an Easter service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral as the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, on April 12.
Pastor Paul Marc Goulet prays to people in their cars at an Easter drive-in service at the International Church of Las Vegas due to the coronavirus outbreak, Sunday, April 12 in Las Vegas.
Wearing a face mask, Erlinda Ortega, top left, cleans a pulpit, while Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, at center, with the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, prepares to record a homily, after Budde led Easter Sunday services via livestream to an empty National Cathedral, on April 12 in Washington, in light of coronavirus pandemic precautions.
Peter Lando and his family take part in Easter Mass line-streamed on the television in their home from St. Mary’s Catholic Church amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Carlisle, Massachusetts on April 12.
A sign reading “Honk I’m 40” stands outside a home while people celebrate indoors during the lockdown, in Carlisle, Massachusetts, on April 12.
A man gestures as he wears bunny ears and face mask while passing in front of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, on April 12, in New York City.
People social distance as they walk through the Oculus transit hub after the arrival of a train from New Jersey on Easter, on April 12, in New York City.
Pastor Paul Goulet leads a drive-in Easter service amid the Coronavirus pandemic at the International Church of Las Vegas, on April 12.
Hashim, an essential worker in the healthcare industry, greets his daughter and nephew through the closed door as he maintains social distance from his family in New Rochelle, New Jersey, on April 11.
Felix and his mother Naomi Hassebroek look at her sister’s newborn baby through a glass door while dropping off a bag of supplies in Brooklyn, on April 11.
The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron Thunderbirds fly over the North Las Vegas VA Medical Center in honor of front-line responders in the fight against the coronavirus on April 11 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The pilots of the F-16 Fighting Falcons out of Nellis Air Force Base performed a 25-minute flyover of Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada, in a show of appreciation for health care workers, first responders and others helping to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Family and people concerned about the health of prison inmates protest outside the Washington state capitol in Olympia on April 11.
Medical personnel are seen outside NYU Langone Health hospital as people applaud to show their gratitude to medical staff and essential workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic on April 11 in New York City.
Rows of beds are constructed in a convention hall at Suburban Collection Showplace, which is being converted into a field hospital to treat coronavirus patients on April 11 in Novi, Michigan. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a similar field hospital at TCF Center in Detroit with 1,000 beds that opened to patients diagnosed with COVID-19 on April 10.
A woman raises her hand during a drive-in Easter service held by the Relevant Church on April 11 at the YMCA parking lot in Clover, South Carolina,
Two girls learning to ride their bikes pose for a picture as lawyer Jessica Pride drives around the neighborhood with her husband dressed as the Easter Bunny during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Solana Beach, California, on April 11.
A woman wears a plastic food container for protection in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on April 11.
Jeannie Richards and sister Carol Soward gesture to their brother Donald Richard, who is among the 65 confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), after bringing balloons and a note by his room window at The Gateway Care and Rehabilitation Center in Hayward, on April 10.
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio shows a bed set up in a temporary hospital located at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, on April 10.
Crosses are seen outside of a church, as each cross represents one life lost to coronavirus disease, in Louisiana, on April 10.
This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the spherical particles of the new coronavirus, colorized blue, from the first U.S. case of COVID-19.
Personal trainer A.J. Draven holds a free gym class via Zoom from his garage, in California, on April 10.
Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., packs food boxes at St. Mary’s Food Bank on April 10, in Phoenix. Arizona.
People wear masks as they wait to enter a Costco Wholesale store in Washington, DC, on April 10.
A medical professional administers a test to a patient at a coronavirus walk-up testing site at Public Safety Headquarters on April 10, in Jersey City, New Jersey.
A man prays outside the closed Saint Anselm Church in Brooklyn, on April 10.
Fr. Andrew Gutierrez holds drive through confessions on Good Friday for parishioners at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Metairie, Louisiana, on April 10.
Medical workers react to applause from firefighters and members of the public outside the Phyllis And William Mack Pavilion in Manhattan, on April 10.
A health care workers forms a heart inside the temporary hospital located at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Queens borough, on April 10 in New York City. The global coronavirus death toll topped 100,000 on April 10 as Easter celebrations around the world kicked off in near-empty churches with billions of people stuck indoors to halt the pandemic’s deadly worldwide march.
President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on COVID-19, at the White House on April 10 in Washington, DC.
The Rev. Nicolas Sanchez points while talking about the diversity of families who sent their pictures to decorate pews at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Los Angele , on April 10. COVID-19 measures also have changed the way people worship, with churches and synagogues closed and many Passover and Easter services streamed online.
View of a quiet Park Avenue on April 10 in New York City.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks as President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence look on during the daily briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force on April 10 at the White House in Washington, D.C.
The marquee and empty streets at The UC Theatre, which is temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, in Berkeley, Calif., on April 10.
John Tolbert, an MTA bus driver in New York City, has his temperature taken before starting his shift at West Farms Bus Depot on April 10.
A Montefiore Medical Center employee walks past signs thanking the medical staff on April 9 in New York City. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said signs show that measures taken by New Yorkers are beginning to flatten the curve, but COVID-19 deaths across the state hit a daily record (799) for the third straight day on April 8.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, listen as Vice President Mike Pence speaks about the coronavirus outbreak on April 9 in Washington.
A lone passenger sleeps in an otherwise empty Amtrak car as the train pulls into Penn Station on April 9 in Baltimore, Maryland. Amtrak and commuter trains have cut daily routes.
Digital billboards and a US flag at half-staff in Times Square on April 9 in New York City. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered flags at half-staff to honor COVID-19 victims.
Slideshow by photo services
Trump then aired roughly three minutes of footage that resembled a campaign ad on screens set up behind the podium. The video featured clips of cable news doctors saying in January that the coronavirus did not represent an imminent threat to the U.S., Trump announcing measures like expanded telehealth options and a national emergency, and Democratic governors thanking the president for offering federal assistance to states responding to the virus.
Asked where the video came from, Trump said it was produced in the White House in the hours before the briefing.