The President hides from the public and fights for a job 'he has no apparent interest in responsibly performing'

A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

Posted Updated

Brian Stelter
, CNN Business
CNN — A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

Two years ago James Patterson and President Bill Clinton paired up to write a political thriller novel. Now the title could apply to our present situation: "The President Is Missing."

As the week has dragged on, reporters and anchors have been raising questions and raising their voices. "He hasn't taken questions from reporters in over a week," CNN's Kaitlan Collins noted on Thursday.

Much to my surprise, he hasn't even called into "Fox & Friends" or other friendly right-wing outlets. A seven-minute appearance at a Veterans Day ceremony was Trump's sole public appearance this workweek.

It's not just journalists who are curious about this. The most-read story on the Washington Post website on Thursday night was David Nakamura's story titled "As Trump stews over election, he mostly ignores the public duties of the presidency."

Nakamura described the president as "sequestered from public view, tweeting grievances, falsehoods and misinformation about the election results and about Fox News's coverage of him." His tweets indicate that he is, as usual, watching a lot of television.

"In essence," Jake Tapper said on "The Lead," Trump "appears to be desperately, even pathetically, fighting to keep a job that he has no apparent interest in responsibly performing."

"Publicly disengaged" from Covid-19

The Associated Press' Aamer Madhani and Zeke Miller published a story that will likely appear in papers across the country Friday morning. "Trump has publicly disengaged from the battle against the coronavirus," they write, "at a moment when the disease is tearing across the United States at an alarming pace."

On Thursday evening the White House said that Trump will receive "an update on Operation Warp Speed" at noon on Friday, but the briefing is slated to be "closed press," meaning no photos or on-camera comments from the president...

When the numbers speak for themselves...

"Reliable Sources" producer Marina di Marzo writes: "By Factbase's count it's been a full week since Trump's last 'verbal public statement,' but he's tweeted and retweeted more than 200 times. In giving the tweets a closer look, found that the president mentioned the election and Fox News more than Covid-19 despite the rising cases and deaths across the country. He's also been flagged for misinformation 49 times."

News cycle by news cycle

"There is no grand strategy at play," New York Times correspondent Maggie Haberman reported Thursday night, citing interviews with a half-dozen advisers and people close to the president.

Haberman said Trump "is simply trying to survive from one news cycle to the next, seeing how far he can push his case against his defeat and ensure the continued support of his Republican base. By dominating the story of his exit from the White House, he hopes to keep his millions of supporters energized and engaged for whatever comes next."

Notable quotes

-- "Buckle up," Digital Democracy Project director Alex Howard wrote Thursday, referring to the state certification process: "The next month will feel like a year, not unlike the decade we just went through since March..." (Twitter)

-- In this new column, Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan questions what exactly to call this limbo period and how it should be covered by the press. "Grift, attempted coup, the first stages (denial and anger) of Trumpian grief? Or are they all insidiously combined in a toxic, anti-democratic stew?" (Post)

-- CBS News president Susan Zirinsky: "There are moments in presidencies, and this is one of those moments, where it has not taken what would normally be a natural course of events. But I believe in law and order, and I believe the system will decide, and we will go on as a country and inaugurate a president." (Vanity Fair)

Copyright 2023 by Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.