US President Donald Trump has once again blamed others for not understanding the concept of sarcasm after people reacted to his tweets about the mainstream media.

In a tweet sent on Sunday evening, the president asked: "Does anybody get the meaning of what a so-called Noble (not Nobel) Prize is, especially as it pertains to Reporters and Journalists? Noble is defined as, 'having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals.' Does sarcasm ever work?" he questioned.

The president's tweet referred to tweets from earlier in the day when for several hours on Sunday he railed against reporters who had written about the Russia investigation and referred to journalists who had received Pulitzer prizes for their efforts.

During his earlier tweets, the president incorrectly referred to the reporters as having received "Noble" prizes, presumably intending to mean "Nobel" prizes.

Advertisement

But instead of correcting his tweets, the president ploughed on further and insisted that he was simply being sarcastic, inferring that certain journalists could never receive such a prize for being "noble" in their reporting.

Earlier in the week, the president again said that he was being sarcastic when during a coronavirus taskforce press conference the president asked Dr Deborah Birx if it might be possible for people suffering with symptoms of the virus to inject disinfectant.

On Friday the president attempted to walk back the comments that alarmed medical professionals worldwide after he raised the possibility of using disinfectant inside people's bodies to fight the coronavirus.

Trump said at a Thursday news briefing that scientists should explore whether inserting light or disinfectant into the bodies of coronavirus patients might help treat Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus.

"I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen," he told journalists at an event in the Oval Office.

Trump mistakenly suggested that the Times' reporters had received a "Noble" prize for their work reporting on Russia's role in influencing the 2016 presidential election and the country's ties to Trump's team.

The New York Times and The Washington Post were awarded a Pulitzer for their efforts.

The president likely was referring to a Nobel Peace Prize.

Advertisement

"When will all of the 'reporters' who have received Noble Prizes for their work on Russia, Russia, Russia, only to have been proven totally wrong (and, in fact, it was the other side who committed the crimes), be turning back their cherished 'Nobles' so that they can be given to the REAL REPORTERS & JOURNALISTS who got it right," Trump wrote.

"I can give the Committee a very comprehensive list," he added. 'When will the Noble Committee DEMAND the Prizes back, especially since they were gotten under fraud? The reporters and Lamestream Media knew the truth all along.

"Lawsuits should be brought against all, including the Fake News Organizations, to rectify this terrible injustice. For all of the great lawyers out there, do we have any takers? When will the Noble Committee Act? Better be fast!" Trump wrote.

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room. Photo / AP
President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room. Photo / AP

Trump also angrily rejected claims about his "work schedule and eating habits", amid reports the US President is growing frustrated at the public response to his handling of the coronavirus crisis.

The New York Times reported last week that Trump "arrives in the Oval Office these days as late as noon, when he is usually in a sour mood after his morning marathon of television" where "the President sees few allies no matter which channel he clicks".

READ MORE:
Covid 19: Donald Trump cancels coronavirus briefings, says they're 'not worth the effort'
Covid 19 coronavirus disinfectant fallout: Donald Trump unfollows Piers Morgan on Twitter - the end of a bond
Donald Trump cuts short press briefing the day after suggesting disinfectant may treat virus
Calls to poison hotlines increase after Donald Trump's disinfectant comments

Advertisement

In the evenings, Trump continues watching TV in his private dining room with aides as they rehash the day, with "comfort food, including french fries and Diet Coke … readily available", according to the report citing "more than a dozen administration officials and close advisers".

In a series of tweets on Sunday, Trump said he had been described as "the hardest-working President in history" and slammed the "phony" story written by "a third-rate reporter who knows nothing about me".

"I work from early in the morning until late at night, haven't left the White House in many months (except to launch Hospital Ship Comfort) in order to take care of Trade Deals, Military Rebuilding etc.," he tweeted.

"And then I read a phony story in the failing @nytimes about my work schedule and eating habits, written by a third-rate reporter who knows nothing about me. I will often be in the Oval Office late into the night & read & see that I am angrily eating a hamburger & Diet Coke in my bedroom. People with me are always stunned. Anything to demean!"

It comes as the White House plans to shift Trump's public focus to the burgeoning efforts aimed at easing the economic devastation caused by the pandemic, after two months of frantic response to the coronavirus.

Days after he publicly mused that scientists should explore the injection of toxic disinfectants as a potential virus cure, Trump has now rejected the utility of his daily task force briefings, where he has time and again clashed with scientific experts.

Advertisement

Trump's aides are aiming to move the President onto more familiar – and safer, they hope – ground: talking up the economy, in tighter controlled settings.

It's a political imperative as allies have seen an erosion in support for the president.

What had been his greatest asset in the re-election campaign – his ability to blanket news headlines with freewheeling performances – has become a daily liability.

At the same time, new Republican Party polling shows Trump's path to a second term depends on the public's perception of how quickly the economy rebounds from the state-by-state shutdowns meant to slow the spread of the virus.

Some states have started to ease closure orders, and Trump is expected to begin to highlight his administration's work in helping businesses and employees.

Aides said the president would hold more frequent roundtables with CEOs, business owners and beneficiaries of the trillions of dollars in federal aid already approved by Congress, and begin to outline what he hopes to see in a future recovery package.

Advertisement

Trump last left the White House grounds a month ago, and plans are being drawn up for a limited schedule of travel within the next few weeks, an aide said.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

It would be a symbolic show that the nation is beginning to reopen. The shift comes in conjunction with what the White House sees as encouraging signs across the country, with the pace of new infections stabilising and deaths declining.

Still, medical experts warn that the virus will remain until at least a vaccine is developed and that the risk of a severe second wave is high if social distancing is relaxed too quickly or if testing and contact tracing schemes aren't developed before people return to normal behaviours.

The White House is deliberating whether to continue to hold news briefings in a modified form without Trump, potentially at a different location.

Before Trump said in a tweet on Saturday that they were "Not worth the time & effort", aides had been eager to use the briefings to highlight positive trends and to overwhelm Americans with statistics.

Advertisement

It was an effort to restore confidence in the response so that the public would be comfortable resuming more normal activities.

"We know that's important," Dr Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force co-ordinator, told Fox News Channel's Sunday Morning Futures.

"We understand those messages of science and policy need to be brought forward to the American people in a non-political way."

Few Americans regularly look to or trust Trump as a source of information on the pandemic, according to a survey from The Associated Press-NORC Centre for Public Affairs Research released last week.

On Monday, the White House was expected to release a recap of what the federal government has done so far to improve the availability of Covid-19 testing, personal protective equipment and ventilators.

Still, governors in both parties say much more is needed, particularly in testing, in the coming months, as they deliberate how and when to reopen their states.

Advertisement

"I want to get our economy back open just as soon as we can, but I want to do so in a safe way so we don't have a spike, we don't cause more deaths, or an overloading of our health care system," Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, told ABC's This Week.

Dr Birx expressed frustration that Trump's injection comments were still in the headlines, illustrating the tensions that have emerged between the President and his medical advisers.

"As a scientist and a public health official and a researcher, sometimes, I worry that we don't get the information to the American people that they need, when we continue to bring up something that was from Thursday night," she said on CNN's State of the Union.

As the White House hopes it has turned a corner, it is also beginning to assess responsibility for critical missteps.

Two senior administration officials said Trump has begun discussions about replacing Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who led the coronavirus task force during its initial weeks and has been blamed for a culture of bureaucratic infighting during that period.

Azar has been largely sidelined since Vice President Mike Pence took charge of the task force in late February.

Advertisement

Trump on Sunday denied that he was going to fire Azar in a tweet, saying, "Alex is doing an excellent job!"