White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEneny, White House press briefing May 20, 2020, C-SPAN
The Trump presidency has always been about the media, the richness of the daily circus. Just looking at how Donald Trump hasn’t aged compared to other presidents in office shows just how much the man enjoys his job–that is, his version of what he thinks is his job. It’s not much different from Chris Cuomo.
Trump spends his days watching television, with which he obsessed. Not in the way people are obsessed with watching the next episode of Tiger King, or back when Game of Thrones was a thing, but in the very businesslike way that Jeff Zucker or Suzanne Scott watch it. Trump, like CNN and Fox News, is a content creator. He just happens to do his schtick from the Oval Office while other people tend the luscious garden of government.
Back to Trump and Cuomo. They’re both from Queens, which in itself means much (people from Queens will agree). They both went to a private secondary school, then on to Ivy League colleges. They both have some notable and successful people in their families. They both went into media, in their own way, Trump for the sake of celebrity itself, and Cuomo to ply his legal training on television.
If Trump and Chris Cuomo got in a room together alone, they’d have an instant rapport and immediate communication. They “see” each other, like Trump does with Chris’s brother NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo. New Yorkers have a way of seeing past each other’s public persona when they need to. For the rest of us, they live in a little bubble that is seldom pierced by such inconveniences as facts.
In that little bubble, Trump and Cuomo face off like WWE wrestlers. Not in some sanctimonious way like Jim Acosta trying to channel Geraldo Rivera, but in a Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker way. It’s pure entertainment, with a thin veneer of news to give the kayfabe some muscle. This is how Trump sees his battles with the antagonistic media, and it’s how Cuomo receives it.
And for a moment White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany pierced the kayfabe. While Cuomo “mocked” Trump for taking hydrochloroquine, he was himself taking “potentized quinine (OXO)” according to an article his wife wrote for a health publication.
In that piece, she added parenthetically: “he medicine Plaquinol, which many doctors are using for COVID-19 is quinine, but it has negative side effects.” McEnany countered this with her own facts, citing the FDA’s warning on using off-label quinine as a treatment for leg cramps.
Say what you will about results, hydrochloroquine is not banned by the FDA, if taken under a doctor’s supervision. That’s what Trump said he did.
Cuomo, who lied about his COVID-19 basement qurantine, is just like his opponent, Donald Trump. It’s only in the brief moments of clarity, when someone like McEnany, who is refreshing in that she always does her homework, drops the kayfabe and shows the media just like it really is, not how it wants to be seen.
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