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On Tuesday morning, Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough became the latest MSNBC star to question the network’s decision to live-broadcast President Trump’s daily novel coronavirus task force briefings.
“If you ask the president a question he doesn’t want to answer, he shouts you down and moves on to somebody else who will ask an easier question,” Scarborough said. “So, why do we hold those press conferences? Why do we carry them all live two hours every night?”
Co-host Willie Geist told Scarborough that he would welcome a daily press briefing held by “officials who provide information,” such as task force members Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx.
All three major cable networks have exercised editorial discretion by cutting away from the now-daily briefings in recent days, but only after broadcasting significant portions of the events.
On Monday, MSNBC took the briefing live for one hour and 25 minutes, before anchor Brian Williams jumped in. On Sunday night, the network took the first 25 minutes of the briefing uninterrupted, later cutting back in for comments made by Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s back and forth with reporters.
A spokesperson said that MSNBC makes editorial decisions on a day-to-day basis about how to cover the briefing. The network also said that it fact-checks the briefings using a team of analysts and medical experts.
MSNBC primetime hosts Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes have also expressed reservations about broadcasting the briefings live.
“If it were up to me and it’s not, I would stop putting those briefings on live TV,” Maddow told her viewers March 20. “Not out of spite but because it’s misinformation. If the president does end up saying anything true, you can run it as tape. But if he keeps lying like he has been every day on stuff this important, we should — all of us should stop broadcasting it. Honestly, it’s going to cost lives.”
Ten days later, Hayes took a stand after a particularly raucous and unfocused press briefing that included an appearance by pillow magnate Mike Lindell.
“It’s obviously above my pay grade,” Hayes said of the decision to broadcast them. “I don’t make the call that we take them or not. But it seems crazy to me that everyone’s still taking them when you got the MyPillow guy getting up there, talking about reading the Bible.”
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