How Trump’s attempts to win the daily news cycle feed a chaotic coronavirus response

President Trump began the seven-day stretch threatening — and then reneging on — a quarantine of the New York region. He ended it by announcing recommendations for everyone to wear face masks — but stressed that he would opt against sporting one himself.

In the days in between, Trump announced a 30-day extension of stringent social distancing guidelines (Sunday), called into a freewheeling “Fox & Friends” gripe-a-thon (Monday), presented a dire assessment of how many Americans are expected to die from the coronavirus (Tuesday), launched a military operation against drug cartels (Wednesday) and stoked a feud with a senior senator from hard-hit New York (Thursday)…

Facing a global pandemic, Trump still seems to lurch from moment to moment, with his methods and messages each day disconnected from — and in some cases contradictory to — the ones just prior. The pattern reveals a commander in chief unsure of how to defeat the “silent enemy,” as he has labeled it.

Instead, Trump has focused on his self-image — claiming credit wherever he believes it is owed, attempting to project strength and decisiveness, settling scores with critics, boasting about the ratings of his televised news conferences, and striving to win the cable news and social media wars.