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US President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at the White House on March 22, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump speaks during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at the White House on March 22, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images)

Out of 13 Hours of Trump Covid-19 Briefings, Just 4.5 Minutes of Empathy for Victims: Analysis

"During his briefings, Trump spent 10 minutes praising himself for every 1 minute he spent expressing condolences for the 50,000 Americans who died."

Jon Queally

As the world runs out of words to account for or describe the unhinged rantings of President Donald Trump when it comes to his daily briefings on the coronavirus pandemic that has rocked the United States and other nations, a new analysis published Sunday details a shocking lack of sympathy expressed by the nation's highest ranking elected official.

With help from a data analytics firm, the Washington Post studied the cumulative hours of White House briefings focused on the outbreak since March 16, including a detailed breakdown of the last three weeks in which the press events have become increasingly concerning as Trump pushed unproven treatments and, just last week, suggested that patients could be injected with disinfectants as a way to cure their illness.

The briefings, as the Post notes, "have come to replace Trump's "Keep America Great" campaign rallies—now on pause during the global contagion—and fulfill the president's needs and impulses in the way his arena-shaking campaign events once did: a chance for him to riff, free-associate, spar with the media and occupy center stage."

According to the Post:

The president has spoken for more than 28 hours in the 35 briefings held since March 16, eating up 60 percent of the time that officials spoke, according to a Washington Post analysis of annotated transcripts from Factba.se, a data analytics company. 

Over the past three weeks, the tally comes to more than 13 hours of Trump — including two hours spent on attacks and 45 minutes praising himself and his administration, but just 4½ minutes expressing condolences for coronavirus victims. He spent twice as much time promoting an unproven antimalarial drug that was the object of a Food and Drug Administration warning Friday. Trump also said something false or misleading in nearly a quarter of his prepared comments or answers to questions, the analysis shows.

Following Trump's comments about disinfectant—which he later attempted to claim were made "sarcastically," a clear and outright lie discernible to anyone who watches him make the comments—the president over the weekend suggested he would end the daily briefings, saying in a Tweet that they were no longer "worth the time and effort."

The uproar over Trump's mismanagement of the crisis and his increasingly erratic behavior led the progressive advocacy group MoveOn.org on Friday to call for the president's removal under the 25th Amendment.

A public survey conducted recently by psychology researchers, meanwhile, found broad consensus among the American people—both from Republicans and Democrats alike—that Trump exhibits clear traits associated with a spectrum of six personality disorders, including narcissism, sadism, histrionic tendencies, being passive-aggressive, an anti-social lack of empathy, and paranoia.

Writing about the study in Psychology Today last week, David Ludden, professor of psychology at Georgia Gwinnett College, said it offers a vital window into Trump's personality because research in this field "has shown that a far more accurate picture of an individual's personality can be obtained by aggregating the assessments of that person's close friends and relations than from a clinical interview by a licensed professional."

"Few of us know President Donald Trump personally," wrote Ludden, "but all of us know a lot about him. As arguably the most public person in the United States, Trump is familiar to us all, and we each have a good sense of how we perceive his personality."


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