How the everyday chaos of reporting on the Trump White House played out for the world to see on Saturday
But as the press continued to wait for the president’s medical team outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the next four hours of reports encapsulated the chaos that has been the defining feature of covering the Trump White House — this time on what might be the most consequential moment of his presidency.
By 11:06 a.m., Bolen’s pool report #4 informed the world that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said that doctors were currently seeing the president. By 11:39 a.m., she reported that “Dr. [Sean] Conley emerged from the double-brass doors of Walter Reed medical center,” adding that her fellow journalists could tune in to TV news directly to hear the president’s physician speak.
That was when Conley told the gathered press that the president was “doing very well,” with normal breathing and a cooling fever but a “mild cough, nasal congestion, fatigue.” But he also shocked reporters as well as viewers watching from home when he described Trump as being “72 hours into the diagnosis” — which suggested the president, who announced his diagnosis early Friday, could have tested positive as early as Wednesday. Then another doctor on the White House team referred to a treatment Trump received “48 hours,” which again would have been well before he supposedly learned he was sick.
They did not answer questions about when the president was first diagnosed, nor when he was first symptomatic and remained vague about whether he had received supplemental oxygen.
After that is when things really started to get weird. As Bolen explained to The Washington Post later, “an official who was there asked to speak to reporters off the record” and gave them the remarkable quote that the source agreed they could use as “background” information in their reports.
Bolen put it in her