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Trump says briefings not worth his time after disinfectant gaffe

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Washington (AFP) – President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday that his daily coronavirus briefings were not worth his time, two days after sparking a furor by suggesting patients might be injected with disinfectant to kill an infection.

He appeared to confirm media reports that he was considering halting the briefings, which dominate early-evening cable television news for sometimes more than two hours, out of frustration with questions about his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately,” Trump wrote.

“They get record ratings, & the American people get nothing but Fake News. Not worth the time & effort!”

On Thursday the US leader stunned viewers by saying doctors might treat people infected with the coronavirus by shining ultraviolet light inside their bodies, or with injections of household disinfectant.

“Then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks (the virus) out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs,” he said.

After a strong rebuff of his suggestion by top medical experts and disinfectant manufacturers, Trump on Friday claimed he had been speaking “sarcastically.”

But he limited that day’s briefing, which usually includes himself, Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, to just 19 minutes, and did not take any questions from reporters.

And on Saturday, after 50 briefings over two months, the White House did not hold one at all.

Trump has used the briefings to occupy television screens and promote his administration’s policies, fend off critics and attack political rivals — from opposition Democrats to China to the US media.

But after more than 53,000 Americans have died from the novel coronavirus, the briefings, opinion polls suggest, have not bolstered Trump’s popularity among voters as he gears up to battle Democrat Joe Biden in the presidential election in November.

An AP-NORC poll published Thursday showed that most Americans — and a crushing majority of Democrats — don’t believe Trump when it comes to the health emergency facing the country.

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