Good advice, but I can’t believe he’d willingly risk getting on the wrong side of his viewers by telling them something they don’t want to hear, no matter how much they need to hear it.

Did Trump put him up to this?

Remember that the president’s campaign manager confronted him with data last week showing that aspects of his coronavirus messaging, starting with the daily briefing, weren’t playing well with voters. I don’t imagine that the spectacle of maskless protesters packed in together at the state capitol toting AR-15s is polling great either. Maybe Trump got some data about that too and called up Hannity to put the word out to Fox viewers that it’s time to take a more low-key approach. It’s a little odd, and maybe revealing, that he hasn’t tweeted about “LIBERATING” any states lately, no? Lower-key, all around.

If Hannity wants to do some more good tonight *and* help the protesters appeal more to average people, he’d nudge them about wearing masks. At Reason today Elizabeth Nolan Brown has a nice piece about how mask-wearing can fit comfortably into a right-wing ethic of privacy and personal responsibility despite the recent complaints that it’s a symbol of obedience and “social control.” I think she’s pumping a dry well, though: The modern GOP and its subsidiary movements are defined more by what they’re against than what they’re for. If liberals are insisting that masks are necessary then masks must not be necessary, or at least not necessary enough to hand them a concession by wearing one. No amount of libertarian oratory about masks as a form of self-defense and self-reliance is going to overcome that impulse towards negative partisanship.

The lure of being against something instead of for something extends to Trump too. Coming up with a policy plan, defending it, and executing it is messy and leaves one ripe for criticism from all sides. Attacking others for the flaws in their own plans is easier and cleaner. And so we get the spectacle of the president rooting on governors to reopen for business even though the recent COVID numbers in some states make them ineligible under his own guidelines.

A slew of states — such as Texas, Indiana, Colorado and Florida — have pushed forward with relaxing social distancing guidelines even as the number of people testing positive in many states has increased in recent weeks and testing continues to lag behind. White House recommendations released last month encouraged states to wait to see a decline in cases over a two-week period, as well as having robust testing in place for front-line workers before entering “Phase One” of a gradual comeback…

Politically, governors have come to learn they are more likely to be criticized by Trump for maintaining stay-at-home orders that comply with White House guidelines than they are for opening up their economies before meeting the Trump administration’s own criteria for doing so.

Trump has singled out Virginia for its reluctance to quickly ease social distancing measures, telling Fox News that it was one of the states that “aren’t going fast enough.”

He did criticize Georgia for reopening too quickly last week but he clarified that point during his Fox News town hall on Sunday night. It was only certain businesses like nail salons that he opposed reopening, he stressed. The impulse to reopen now, whatever the guidelines might say, is terrific.

This is why I still think Fauci and Birx should have quit when they had the chance. They’re not needed anymore, at least not at the federal level. The guidelines they helped set are being treated as a joke. There’s no more daily briefing for them to communicate their message du jour to the public either, and even if there were, they can have as much cable-news airtime as they want by sitting for interviews. They should go work for the states. At least governors might listen to them about the need to build a department of contact tracing.

Since we’re on the subject of Trump, Hannity, and Fox, here’s a tasty scoop from Vanity Fair:

According to sources, an investor group aligned with his son Don Jr. and the Dallas-based Hicks family has acquired a major stake in One America News Network, the fledgling conservative cable-news channel that features hosts like Jack Posobiec, a chief promoter of the Pizzagate conspiracy. “[RNC co-chair] Tommy Hicks and Don Jr. have been looking to buy a station for Trump TV,” said one source briefed on the talks. “This is all about building a Fox competitor. Trump is really aiming to take down Fox,” the person briefed on the deal told me.

Trump has been complaining more about Fox and praising OAN lately. It must irk him that there’s still a modicum of “disloyal” (i.e. non-obsequious) content on Fox, from newsier types like Chris Wallace to a handful of critics like Andrew Napolitano to the well-respected Fox polling bureau that reliably delivers discouraging numbers for him. If he wants an out-and-out propaganda network he’ll have to build his own. He could have done so already if he’d lost the 2016 election. Remember, there were rumors down the stretch of that campaign that he was looking to parlay his looming defeat into starting his own Fox-like infotainment network. Imagine how much happier he’d be right now running Trump TV, pushing COVID trutherism on his Twitter feed, and carping at President Hillary for every aspect of her handling of the crisis than he is having to organize a federal response. Being against something instead of for something is so much easier.