Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Bill Withers on repeat: How Trump's least favorite journalist decompresses after those briefings

Seth Meyers, Yamiche Alcindor
Seth Meyers, Yamiche Alcindor
Screenshot: Late Night With Seth Meyers

PBS NewsHour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor has, as Seth Meyers put it on Thursday’s stay-at-home Late Night, lately found herself in the unenviable journalistic position of being “part of the story.” That story being, in this case, Donald Trump’s daily coronavirus press briefings, where responsibly spaced reporters furiously attempt to fact-check Trump’s incoherent, contradictory, often straight-up dangerous statements on the crisis in real time while dodging the middle school insults and hostility of a cornered half-bright narcissist when they do. Honestly, it’s a master class in journalistic integrity and courage from those who maintain theirs, with the stalwart Alcindor finding herself more and more on Trump’s anti-media radar.

Calling the first three years of life under Trump “a scary and wild time” already, Alcindor told Meyers that these briefings add a whole “added level of seriousness and craziness” to her life as a reporter. And, you know, a human being, as she’s been singled out as “nasty” and “threatening” by a grown man being asked substantive questions about the government’s murderously scattershot response to what’s become the most devastating pandemic since 1918 or so. Praised for her “poise” by Meyers, Alcindor demurred, explaining that what she’s asking Trump are “basic questions at times we’re not getting the answers to,” and that she’s equally appreciative of those times when her colleagues from other networks and news organizations pick up a shut-down reporter’s question and force the issue. As to whether Trump has a particular penchant for personally insulting female reporters and reporters who aren’t white (he does), Alcindor again refused to engage Meyers on the topic, pointing to the others in the briefing room who’ve been recently (and ineptly) abused by Trump. “He wants to have an opponent,” Alcindor said, “He wants a punching bag,” and people doing their jobs attempting to point out the fast-flying bullshit in that room every day are people “he sees as a threat.”

As professional as Alcindor remained, Meyers did press the journalist on how—you know, as a human—she decompresses from all that noise and nonsense once she gets home at night. Noting that her job is stressful even when not taking meticulous precautions to ensure she’s not contracting or spreading the highly contagious virus Donald Trump keeps downplaying for the sake of his ego and bank account, Alcindor credited her husband, fellow journalist Nathaniel Cline, with allowing her to vent at length, plus a little help from a recently departed musical legend. “Bill Withers on repeat” Alcindor answered, which helps her remember to calm down and trust that “there are so many better days ahead of us.” Sounds like a solid plan. Let’s try it, everybody:

Yup, that’s the stuff.


Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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