Trump's coronavirus press briefings will go down in history as some of the most ridiculous moments of his entire presidency – and there's stiff competition.
But last night's may be the most bizarre display of petulant arrogance we've seen yet. So much so that #TrumpMeltdown has been trending all night long.
CNN's chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta called the whole thing "the biggest meltdown I have ever seen from a president of the United States in my career" and said the president "doesn't sound like he's in control".
.@Acosta: "That is the biggest meltdown I have ever seen from a President of the United States in my career" https://t.co/tAi6qp5YAU
This was very much seconded by, well, pretty much everyone. Even TV news banners realised in real time how bizarre it was, and threw subtly shade accordingly.
ICYMI, here are some of the most inexplicable, absurd things that happened, and why people are baffled.
1. Trump opened by bragging about his actions from months ago, instead of updating the public on what's actually happening
After Dr Fauci gave a half-hearted attempt at walking back his comments that lives could have been saved by acting sooner, Trump took the mic to offer a display of ego-centric nonsense that really wasn't at all relevant.
He started talking about the travel ban from China which he enacted in January, and for no reason referred to Joe Biden "apologising" for calling him xenophobic. In fact, as CNN reports, Biden simply stated that he agreed with the travel ban, but said his comments around xenophobia were unrelated.
There is no evidence Biden "apologised", but there is a long list of all the times Trump has referred to Covid-19 and the "China virus", even though the US has long overtaken China in both confirmed cases and death toll.
Moreover, none of this is helpful nor relevant to public safety right now, it's simply an attempt by Trump to salvage his own reputation after The New York Times revealed that he was warned about the potential danger of the coronavirus epidemic months ago, and ignored the advice.
2. He then used the press briefing to run a campaign-ad style video... and criticised his biggest fans: Fox News
This part really was truly wild. He took it upon himself to pivot from criticising The New York Times ("it's a fake newspaper!") to criticising Nancy Pelosi ("she wanted to have a Chinatown parade!") to saying we can all get back to "the real reason we're here", which apparently isn't to update the public on the current situation of the global pandemic which has claimed 23,649 American lives so far, but rather: "The success we're having."
In order to achieve this, he played a video, which was entitled (in all caps, of course): THE MEDIA MINIMIZED THE RISK FROM THE START
He then went on to show a series of clips – including from Fox News, with which he has thus far had a obsessive co-dependent relationship – which showed a number of pundits making claims about coronavirus towards the beginning of the pandemic, reassuring the public it was nothing to worry about.
It seems that with lockdown meaning he can't very well hold his standard MAGA rallies, he's now just using press briefings to the same effect... and appears to be expending public resources to do so.
When ABC News White House correspondent Jon Karl pointed out that the video looked very much like a campaign ad (it even featured a Trump 2020 slogan), and asked who put it together, he replied: "A group in the office."
Many pointed out that this would suggest it was actually paid for with taxpayer dollars.
@atrupar So, he’s using taxpayer funded Federal Employees for campaign videos, while 23,036 Americans have died in mere weeks...?!?!
John King, chief national correspondent for CNN, described the video as "propaganda aired at taxpayer expense in the White House briefing room."
Here's the video in its entirety:
3. And he called it "the caranavirus"
3. When he said "nobody is asking for ventilators":
Obviously, this is not true. It came as part of a strange diatribe about how doctors and nurses are underappreciated, but then said:
You take a look at what's happened. No one is asking for ventilators. Except outside of our country. Outside of our country they're calling me! Every country! They're calling me... so many countries! And I'm gonna try and help them because we have thousands of ventilators being built. But no one's asking for ventilators.
In New York, which has been the hardest-hit state by the pandemic, Governor Cuomo has repeatedly stressed the desperate need for tens of thousands of extra ventilators in order to avoid further deaths. Trump's response was previously to accuse healthcare workers of stealing them.
Governors in Michigan, Washington, New Mexico and Louisiana have also requested crucial ventilators, to which Trump reportedly responded: "Try getting it yourselves."
Just a few moments later he claimed Democratic governors "can't find anything to complain about" but seemed to blame them for not having the necessary equipment.
They should have had their own stockpiles. And now if they want, we can build them stockpiles of ventilators. The hardest thing is the ventilators ... Many of the governors were asking for far too many.
OK so no one is asking for ventilators, but they're also asking for far too many. Got it.
4. When he was asked what he did in the month of February and went completely off the rails
When he was asked by CBS reporter White House correspondent Paula Reid questioned him on what he actually did in February, when he "bought time" by closing the borders ("you didn't use it to prepare hospitals, you didn't use it to ramp up testing...").
He started off by claiming the question was "so disgraceful!" and then went on to try and claim that there were "no cases in the US" at that time, using a report from 17 January, which obviously is two weeks before February. As the reporter starts pointing out that his rant isn't actually providing any answers, he is not happy.
She asks again: "February. The entire month of February. What did your administration do with the time your travel ban bought you?"
To which he responds:
A lot! A lot! And in fact, we'll give you a list... what we did – in fact part of it was up there [referring to the bizarre video he screened at the beginning of the briefing].
But the video actually didn't feature any measures imposed in February, and when this was pointed out to him, this was his response:
Look. Look. You know you're a fake. You know that. Your whole network, the way you cover it, is fake. And most of you... and not all of you... but the people are wise to you! That's why you have a lower approval rating than you've ever had before times probably three!
Let me ask you this: Why didn't Biden... why did Biden apologise? Why did he write a letter of apology? Why did the Democrats think I acted too quickly? You know why? Because they really thought that I acted too quickly! We have done a great job! Now I could've... I could've kept it open. And I could've done what some countries are doing. They're getting beat up pretty badly. I could've kept it open. I thought of keeping it open. Because nobody'd ever heard of closing down a country! Let alone the United States of America. But if I would've done that, we would've had hundreds of thousands of people that would right now be dead.
We've done this right. And we really... we really have done this right! The problem is the press doesn't cover it the way it should be.
Needless to say, he didn't answer the question.
5. When he claimed he had "absolute power" over lockdown – but the constitution disagreed.
Yes, he seems to think there's no such thing as checks and balances anymore.
According to the 10th amendment, "police powers" are granted to the states to regulate behaviour during public health crises. Trump himself has repeatedly eschewed responsibility on lockdown measures, given it's up to individual states to make those choices.