CNN  — 

On Monday, President Donald Trump totally reversed course on how he is handling the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – posting a picture wearing a mask and announcing that he would restart the coronavirus daily(ish) briefings that ended in late April.

“I was doing them and we had a lot of people watching, record numbers watching in the history of cable television. There’s never been anything like it,” Mr. Trump said of the briefings. “It’s a great way to get information out to the public as to where we are with the vaccines, with the therapeutics.” (When Trump ended the daily briefings a few months back, he said they were “not worth the time & effort” because “the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately.”)

On Tuesday, we learned more details about the briefings – the first of which is set for Tuesday at 5 p.m.

According to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak, there are no current plans for any members of the White House coronavirus task force to join Trump at the podium – although that could change. They also report that the way White House aides convinced Trump to restart these briefings was to tell him he could talk about more than just the coronavirus. Which brings me to the most delicious detail we know about the planned briefings – courtesy of press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Fox News Tuesday morning (bolding is mine):

These are going to be short briefings, of the President mainly, delivering information to the American people that’s needed on therapeutics and vaccines. There will be other information tied into these briefings. We have a lot of plans over the next three months. So you’re going to be hearing about other topics as well. The President may, at times, bring someone with him, maybe not. That will be his decision. But these will be very newsy briefings with a lot of information the American – the American people will hear.”

Oh, and she also noted that Trump will take questions from reporters.

OK, let’s break down what McEnany told us there:

1) The briefings will cover coronavirus and other topics

2) They will mostly feature the President

3) He will take questions

4) They will be short.


Quick: Name the last time that Trump went “short” when dealing with the press? Was it the 50-plus minute opening speech he delivered in the Rose Garden on July 14 before taking roughly two questions from the media? Or the rambling press conferences he held in April to address the growing coronavirus pandemic? Or every campaign speech he has ever given?

Of all the things these coronavirus briefings will be, they almost certainly will NOT be short.

The dirty little secret about President Trump is that for all of his “fake news” rhetoric, we haven’t ever had a President who enjoyed the banter with reporters – or cared more about what the media thought of him – than this one. When Trump gets in front of the media – with the bright lights on and the cameras running – it’s right where he wants to be, at the center of attention. It’s why he can never break away, taking questions before he leaves on Marine One, taking questions when he gets of Air Force One, taking questions at every pool spray and photo op.

Trust me when I tell you that Trump’s top aides would like him to talk to the media far less than he does. But Trump believes himself to be his own best messenger and, again, he loves the attention. So he talks and talks and talks.

Why would that suddenly change now, with Trump facing major political problems as he seeks to win a second term? Trump has always believed he can talk himself out of any corner, and this is the tightest corner he has ever been in. And the White House only got him to agree to these briefings by promising he could talk about more than the coronavirus! And they say he plans to take questions!

Add all of those things up and there is no way that Trump is going to provide “short” updates about the coronavirus – or anything else. Quite the contrary. My guess is that Trump goes long – at least an hour – for as long as he thinks it makes sense to continue to do these briefings. (I’m skeptical they last all that long, because Trump will want to see immediate improvement in his poll numbers by doing them and I don’t think that’s at all likely.)

So buckle up. We are in – at least in the short term – for a torrent of Trump talking.