In a press briefing that ended quicker than a lot of Mike Tyson fights, it was Donald Trump who ended up on the mat Friday night.
I was primed to see how Trump would handle the fallout from Thursday night’s disastrous briefing, in which Trump pondered aloud whether injecting disinfectant might help treat patients suffering from COVID-19, when he decided to take his toys and go home. Right after he shuffled off the stage Friday night without taking a single question, the news broke that he was no longer going to be entertaining America on a nightly basis.
This was utterly out of character, but it was somehow a fitting end to one of the most bizarre weeks in the most bizarre periods in American history.
Friday’s abrupt departure, coupled with those reports that we may have seen our last daily coronavirus briefing, constitutes a rare, if tacit, admission of failure.
Coronavirus is a serious problem, and Trump simply can’t talk his way out of this one.
Truth be told, this was signaled hours before Friday night’s press briefing, when Trump attempted to walk back Thursday night’s remarks.
It has been said that Trump’s superpower is that he has no shame. He doesn’t get embarrassed, primarily because he isn’t self-aware enough to realize he should.
That seemed to change on Friday afternoon, however, when he suggested he was just being “sarcastic” about, you know, injecting disinfectant.
Trump normally prevaricates with abandon, attempting to gaslight us into believing we’re the ones with the problem. But on this occasion, he seemed self-aware. Finally, Trump seemed to realize that he was naked.
It takes a lot for a man this delusional to come to terms with reality. And while I’m not delusional enough to think he is maturing, or that avoiding the media will last (he craves attention too much for that), Trump might finally be getting scared.
Look at the polls. He could very well lose his re-election to Joe Biden. I think he finally realizes that.
For a man who never apologizes or admits the smallest defeat, walking out without taking a single question—the first time he’s ever done that in a coronavirus briefing—suggests he just couldn’t handle another interrogation.
Ducking questions is not a good look. Just ask CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who suggested Trump was “chicken” and “afraid to answer questions.”
Truth be told, though, ending without taking reporters’ questions is a perfectly rational idea.
Trump frequently starts off his briefings by reading some boilerplate copy. At some point, a reporter gets under his skin, getting Trump’s competitive juices flowing, and he goes off script.
As Iron Mike put it, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Thursday’s briefing, for example, began with an expert presenting information about how sunlight and humidity could bring a summer reprieve. It was a potentially significant development that might have garnered some cautiously optimistic media attention.
It was quickly overshadowed, however, because Trump started taking questions, attacking reporters as “fake news,” and ad-libbing about disinfectants.
So maybe this decision not to take questions is a good one. It just comes 24 hours, or 24 days, or maybe even 24 years, too late.