The current crisis is upending everything all the time, however. Approval-rating polls suggest that, after an initial bump, Trump’s popularity is now suffering. With a tanking economy, and mass panic, Trump’s turbulent charisma is losing its appeal. His ‘unhinged’ press conferences are disturbing as much as they are entertaining. A couple of weeks ago, it made sense for Trump to host regular briefings: as Commander-in-Chief in a global war against a virus, he should be front and center. He should be seen to be in charge.
But now, with daily clashes between the President and the White House press pool, Trump is regularly falling into the journalistic traps: if he is too sanguine, he will be accused of not taking the threat seriously. If he is too passionate, he will be called demented.
Trump could therefore be well-advised to go back to leaving his briefings to his press team. He needs a Sarah Huckabee Sanders-type figure back, a human shield. Perhaps his current press team doesn’t have the ability to remain calm under pressure. It’s interesting that Stephanie Grisham was recently moved on. But he needs someone new to field questions from the hacks. A regular statement from him, accompanied by a briefing from a press secretary, would mean less theatrics and more clarity.