NBC’s Alexander: I gave Trump ‘a softball’ question as opportunity to ‘reassure’ Americans
NBC News White House correspondent Peter Alexander said he was tossing President Trump a “softball” question during Friday’s coronavirus task force briefing, asking the president what he would “say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared.”
The question from the reporter prompted the president to call the question “nasty” and Alexander a “terrible reporter.”
Alexander spoke about the confrontation on MSNBC on Friday afternoon, with the reporter telling host Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd during separate interviews that he was only attempting to provide the president with an opportunity to reassure the American people.
“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.
“Do you really think going off on Peter, going off on a network is appropriate for when the country is going through something like this?” she asked.
“You know I’ve dealt with Peter for a long time. And I think Peter is not a good journalist when comes to fairness,” the president maintained. “This is the time to come together. But coming together is much harder when we have dishonest journalists.”
The back-and-forth between Alexander and Trump began after the reporter asked if the president was giving Americans “a false sense of hope” around possible treatments for the coronavirus.
“Is it possible that your impulse to put a positive spin on things is may be giving Americans a false sense of hope and misrepresenting preparedness right now?” Alexander asked.
“No, I don’t think so,” Trump shot back. “Such a lovely question.”
“What do you say to Americans that are scared?” Alexander followed.
“I’d say you are a terrible reporter,” Trump replied. “I think that’s a very nasty question, and I think that’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people.”
The president also referred to NBC’s parent company, Comcast, as “Concast.”
Daily press briefings have returned in recent weeks in the form of the daily coronavirus task force briefing. Before this past month, the last White House press briefing was March 11, 2019, and was held by then-press secretary Sarah Sanders.