Over 100,000 sign a petition demanding TV networks stop airing Trump's live coronavirus briefings

insider@insider.com (Connor Perrett)
  • Over 100,000 people have called on news organizations to stop airing un-edited live press briefings from the president about the novel coronavirus. 

  • The petition alleges that the president is using the press conferences as an opportunity to hold a "live daily rally."

  • The Trump conferences have been a mixed bag, containing both messaging from health officials and the president lashing out at opponents and journalists.

  • "Instead of enabling this behavior, major news media outlets need to stop airing these press briefings live, unedited on television," the petition reads.

  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Nearly 100,000 people have signed a petition calling on news outlets to stop the un-edited airing of President Trump's coronavirus briefings, alleging he's using the televised White House briefings as a "live campaign rally."

The petition, created on March 27, points to broadcast and cable networks CNN, ABC, CBS NBC, NPR, and Fox News, calling on them to monitor the briefings and then report out "appropriately edited, valuable, accurate parts, which will come from medical experts."

"President Trump is blatantly using CNN and other news organizations' extensive live coverage to freely campaign for a second term," said Julie Rochman, who authored the petition. "It is wrong and dangerous to provide so much unfettered airtime to someone who is shamelessly spreading damaging misinformation that is already costing fellow Americans their lives."

U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor, speaks during a news conference, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Washington D.C., U.S., March 22, 2020.
U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor, speaks during a news conference, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Washington D.C., U.S., March 22, 2020.

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Rochman, a retired advocate for public health and safety in the property insurance industry, told Business Insider she's not a professional organizer or activist. The petition, which she created less than a week ago, was her first time using the grassroots website MoveOn and she hoped for about 100 signatures, she said. 

"I'm a retired 58-year-old woman who was pissed off. That's it," Rochman said.

She added: "My whole career has been involved in public safety, public health, and risk mitigation — trying to get people workable, actionable information to make themselves safer."

Rochman, who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, said the president's briefing "hit a nerve," and she didn't realize "how many people were having that same nerve pinched."

Rochman told Business Insider she sent the petition to CNN on Tuesday. CNN did not immediately return Business Insider's request for comment.

Twitter users also banned together to get networks to stop airing the president's live remarks 

On Twitter, the hashtag #StopAiringTrump was filled with like-minded individuals who called on news networks to stop giving the president a platform for what they viewed was inaccurate information about COVID-19

"The My Pillow guy just said a prayer about how great Trump is and I can't watch this anymore," Scott Dworkin, a co-founder founder of the Democratic Coalition, tweeted Monday after the president at the beginning of his Monday press conference invited business leaders like Mike Lindell, CEO of pillow manufacturing company MyPillow, to speak about how private companies were working with the administration in an attempt to combat COVID-19.

 

Lindell appeared to go off-script in offering praise of Trump at the live press conference in the White House Rose Garden.

"Our president gave us so much hope," the MyPillow creator said. "Where just a few short months ago, we had the best economy, the lowest unemployment, and wages going up, it was amazing. With our great president, vice president and this administration and all the great people in this country praying daily, we will get through this and get back to a place that's stronger and safer than ever."

"I did not know he was going to do that, but he is a friend of mine, and I do appreciate it," Trump said.

Trump has used the White House briefings to lash out at journalists  

While the coronavirus briefings have been a source of information from White House leaders, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS, they have also served as an opportunity for the president to criticize journalists and his political adversaries.

On multiple occasions, Trump has lashed out at PBS "NewsHour" journalist Yamiche Alcindor. During a March 30 briefing, when Alcindor asked Trump about the nation's testing capability for COVID-19, the president retorted, asking the PBS journalist about the population of Seoul, South Korea. 

 "You should be saying congratulations instead of asking a really snarky question because I know exactly what you mean by that," Trump said.

At a previous briefing, the president told Alcindor she shouldn't be "threatening" and should instead "be nice." Also at the Sunday news conference, Trump lashed out at Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, calling him a "failed presidential candidate" and a "nasty person."

Also at the Monday briefing, the president lashed out at CNN reporter Jim Acosta over his direct quoting of the president's past statements downplaying the novel coronavirus. Trump called the line of questioning "nasty" and "snarky." 

"It's why people just don't want to listen to CNN anymore," Trump told Acosta. "You should ask a real question," he added.

 

The White House did not immediately return Business Insider's request for comment. 

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