“I was trying to provide the president an opportunity to reassure the millions of Americans, members of my own family … and plenty of people sitting at home right now,” Alexander, who has clashed with the president during press briefings in the past, said. “This was his opportunity to do that, to provide a sort of positive or uplifting message.”

Later in the afternoon, Alexander appeared with Todd to use a baseball analogy to describe his question.

“You and I are baseball fans,” Alexander told Todd. “We call it a softball.”

Several reporters jumped to Alexander’s defense later in the briefing, including CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins.