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Trump hits back at WSJ over editorial criticizing focus of virus briefings

President TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE on Thursday blasted The Wall Street Journal for an editorial criticizing the daily White House press briefings, complaining that the news outlet failed to give proper attention to the number of viewers they attract.

"The Wall Street Journal always 'forgets' to mention that the ratings for the White House Press Briefings are 'through the roof,'" Trump tweeted, referencing a New York Times piece that recently compared the number of viewers to "Monday Night Football" or "The Bachelor."

The president asserted that the briefings were the "only way for me to escape the Fake News & get my views across. WSJ is Fake News!" 

In an opinion piece published Wednesday night titled "Trump’s Wasted Briefings," the Journal's editorial board bemoaned that the daily press conferences ostensibly intended to focus on the latest news surrounding the coronavirus had become "more about the many feuds of Donald J. Trump."

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The editorial board wrote that Trump's frequent attacks on the press, governors and his critics during the briefing were "off-key" given the severity of the pandemic that has killed thousands of people in the U.S.

The board urged Trump to cede center stage at the briefings to Vice President Pence and top health officials, who have regularly appeared at the briefings but have primarily waited to provide updates until the president delivers his own remarks.

Trump's tweet Thursday — which marked a rare shot from the president at the Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal — highlighted the president's fixation on how his briefings are playing in the media. He frequently boasts about their popularity, and White House officials have complained about networks that do not air them in their entirety.

The president has typically opened the briefings with a prepared statement before taking questions from reporters. That format has led to sparring with journalists, criticism of likely Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenRev. Barber says best way to undercut extremism is with honesty Biden requires international travelers to quarantine upon arrival to US Overnight Defense: House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee | Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia | Two more US service members killed by COVID-19 MORE and a question on Wednesday about the Netflix series "Tiger King."

Trump usually leaves the briefing room to allow Pence and health officials to give statements and answer questions for a shorter period of time.