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White House cuts off coronavirus briefing without taking questions

It is the first time reporters have not been able to ask questions at the conclusion of the briefing.

Image: PA

FOR THE FIRST time, Donald Trump cut off his daily coronavirus task force briefing on Friday without taking any questions from reporters.

The briefings often stretch well beyond an hour and feature combative exchanges between Mr Trump and reporters.

The president was angry after a day of punishing headlines on Friday, largely about his comment at the previous evening’s briefing wondering if it would be helpful to inject disinfectant into people to fight the coronavirus.

That idea drew loud warnings from health experts who said the idea was dangerous and sharp criticism from Democrats.

Mr Trump did answer questions from reporters earlier on Friday and claimed that his suggestion about disinfectant had been “sarcastic.”

The president has been reluctant to cede the spotlight at the briefings, which are the closest thing he currently has to his beloved political rallies.

He has talked up their robust television ratings and his ability to dominate the news cycle and drown out his likely general election opponent, Democrat Joe Biden.

But advisers have argued that while the briefings may appeal to his most loyal base of supporters, they could be alienating some viewers, including senior citizens worried about their health.

Officials at Mr Trump’s reelection campaign have also noted a slip in his support in some battleground states and have expressed concerns that the briefings, which often contain inaccurate information, may be playing a role.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the president had taken “countless questions” earlier in the day from reporters in the Oval Office.

“The accessibility and transparency of this president is unprecedented,” she said.

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