Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.
From the March 22, 2020, edition of Fox News’ MediaBuzz
HOWARD KURTZ (HOST): Before we interrupted for Gov. Cuomo, you were about to make a point about the press focusing on various things the president had to say in January, February and much of March, which they say didn’t match the coming crisis even though there weren’t that many cases in the U.S.
You want to pick up that point?
STEPHANIE GRISHAM (WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY): Yeah. I would just want to say the president didn’t have a crystal ball there, and he has acted appropriately.
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. We’ve got a crisis on our hands, we’ve got a coronavirus in this country, and the press should — they’ve got a real opportunity, if you ask me, to also spread great information to this public and give information that our task force is trying to get out there.
KURTZ: The president the other day really got into it with NBC’s White House correspondent Peter Alexander, as you know. He had asked a question about, the president was talking about a couple of malaria drugs, he doesn’t know whether they would be effective against coronavirus but was willing to support further research. He said are you giving false hope to people over these drugs, and then Alexander said that what do you have to say to millions of scared Americans. The president said Peter Alexander had asked a nasty question and he was a terrible reporter. What was nasty about those questions?
GRISHAM: Well, I want to point out before I answer that question, the president just the day before, I believe it was or prior to the day before to that had said that he felt the media coverage was actually pretty fair. So he has given credit where it’s due. In that instance, the fact that he, a reporter is asking if he’s giving false hope to the American people, I think that was inappropriate. He’s the commander in chief. He is 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 they’re — we’re working towards options that will help people. It is his job to show not only leadership but try to calm the American people. So to come after him and say he’s giving false hope, I think, was wildly inappropriate, and I believe that’s how he reacted the way he did.
KURTZ: Well it was a question now. CNN’s John King reacted by calling the president’s response to Peter Alexander B.S., he used the actual word on the air, and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow said cable news shouldn’t even carry these various briefings live because she says the president is spreading misinformation. Your response.
GRISHAM: Well, the irony there about now they shouldn’t have briefings is not lost on me, certainly. But it doesn’t surprise me that either of those networks or that cable channel would attack him. And that’s not the point. Right now they need to set aside their bias against this president, and they need to do what this White House is doing and show leadership and try to get information to the American public. That is your job as journalists.
KURTZ: At another briefing, the president responded to a question from One America News about whether some of the media was supposedly siding with Chinese Communist Party propaganda by ripping into the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and saying they are siding with China. What did he mean?
GRISHAM: There have been many, many outlets that have printed that the Chinese government is doing all that they can and that they are showing leadership towards this virus, and that’s not the case. There’s also, you know, there have been reporters who have jumped to calling it the Chinese virus racist. He was talking about that. Again, this is the media outlets ripping into the president because they can. This is why earlier he called it a hoax. He didn’t call the virus a hoax, he called the way the Democrats and media are treating it as just another hoax in that they’re trying to take him down. This president is focused on the American people, so should the media, period.