Jennifer Senior has been one of my favorite writers for many years. Her columns are always incisive and intelligent.

She is now an opinion writer for the New York Times. In this column, she expresses the extreme frustration I feel whenever I watch Trump speak to the press, surrounded always by people chosen for their obeisance and loyalty.

She writes about a recent press conference. A friend who used to work on Wall Street told me that the market was rising that day, but as soon as Trump began boasting and misleading, the stock market dropped 1,000 points.

What Trump makes clear in this time of national and international crisis is that he is utterly incapable of empathy or compassion. Whatever the topic, he demands adulation.

Senior writes:

In a time of global emergency, we need calm, directness and, above all, hard facts. Only the opposite is on offer from the Trump White House. It is therefore time to call the president’s news conferences for what they are: propaganda.

We may as well be watching newsreels approved by the Soviet Politburo. We’re witnessing the falsification of history in real time. When Donald Trump, under the guise of social distancing, told the White House press corps on Thursday that he ought to get rid of 75 to 80 percent of them — reserving the privilege only for those he liked — it may have been chilling, but it wasn’t surprising. He wants to thin out their ranks until there’s only Pravda in the room.

Sometimes, I stare at Deborah Birx during these briefings and I wonder if she understands that this is the footage historians will be looking at 100 years from now — the president rambling on incoherently, vainly, angrily, deceitfully, while she watches, her face stiff with the strangled horror of a bride enduring an inappropriate toast.

If the public wants factual news briefings, they need to tune in to those who are giving them: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, whose addresses appear with English subtitles on Deutsche Welle. They should start following the many civic-minded epidemiologists and virologists and contagion experts on Twitter, like Harvard’s Marc Lipsitch and Yale’s Nicholas Christakis, whose threads have been invaluable primers in a time of awful confusion.

These are people with a high tolerance for uncertainty. It’s the president’s incapacity to tolerate it — combined with his bottomless need to self-flatter and preserve his political power — that leads, so often, to his spectacular fits of deception and misdirection. At his Thursday news conference, a discussion of chloroquine and other experimental therapies formed the core of his remarks, when those drugs and therapies are untested and unproven and, in some cases, won’t be ready for several months, as NBC’s Peter Alexander pointed out the following day.

“What do you say to Americans who are scared?” Alexander pressed.

“I say that you’re a terrible reporter,” Trump answered.

Only a liar — and a weak man with delusions of competence — would be so unnerved by the facts.

Compare this to Cuomo, who takes questions at his news conferences calmly and systematically — and, more to the point, has a substantive response when asked the same questions about anxiety. He hears it. He relates to it. He says it’s real.

“People are in a small apartment, they’re in a house, they’re worried, they’re anxious. Just, be mindful of that,” the governor said Friday. “Those three-word sentences can make all the difference: ‘I miss you.’ ‘I love you.’ ‘I’m thinking about you.’ ‘I wish I was there with you.’ ‘I’m sorry you’re going through this.’ ‘I’m sorry we’re going through this.’”

On Friday, Cuomo said something else that was quite striking, as he was issuing his executive order for nonessential workers in New York to stay home, other than to run errands or exercise outside. “If someone wants to blame someone or complain about someone, blame me,” he said. “There is no one else who is responsible for this decision.”

Cuomo is nothing if not politically shrewd. He knows full well how this comment compares to Mr. Trump’s “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

But telling the media that they’re peddling fake news is straight from the playbook of the political gangsters of the last century. So many of Trump’s moves are.

Having each of his cabinet members fulsomely thank him for his leadership and congratulate him for his “farsightedness” before each of their remarks: Check. Making sure each one stays on a message, even if that message has nothing to do with his or her purview: Check.

(Alex Azar may have been the worst offender, speaking Friday to the urgency of closing the southern border. He’s the secretary of health and human services, not homeland security. Yet he was parroting Trump’s message about the coronavirus, one specifically tailored to the base: We’re keeping brown immigrants from spreading it.)

How about Orwellian doublespeak? Ooooooh, check. Trump and his team are continually deploying words and phrases that disguise a reality that suggests the opposite. Vice President Mike Pence talks about a “strong and seamless” partnership with the states, when at the same time Mr. Trump is trolling the states, telling Cuomo to get his own respirators.

Pence speaks relentlessly of a “whole-of-government approach,” when in fact the government is hollowed out — defunded to fight pandemics, denuded of experts — and broken in shards, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sidelined in this fight, and the president’s task force now mutely competing with a shadow group run by the president’s son-in-law.

On Friday, Trump said he cherished journalism, and his secretary of state complained about disinformation on Twitter. There are simply too many two-plus-two-is-five moments to count.

But most dangerous of all is Trump’s insistence that things are fine, or will be shortly, that they’ll be stronger and better and greater than ever. We don’t have any evidence that this is true, and the president finds any suggestion to the contrary quite rude. When a journalist pointed out to him on Thursday that the economy had all but ground to halt, Trump cut him off.

“What’s the rest of your question?” he snapped. “We know that. Everybody in the room knows that.”

Here’s the truth: Things might be hard — unfathomably hard — for months, perhaps even north of a year. Anyone who’s reading or listening to other sources of news besides the president knows that. It takes sensitivity and strength and intelligence to speak truthfully to the public about imminent hardship, the prospect of enduring pain.

So I listen to Justin Trudeau, a sci-fi experience, a dispatch from an alternate universe that prioritizes the needs and anxieties of the middle class. He speaks about concerns: The kids will be all right. There’ll be food. You won’t be booted out of your home. Not how our president is speaking right now, but it’s a road map for the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020 to follow.

And I listen to Cuomo, who says the same thing. His news conference on Friday was about the practical things, knowing the entire state — country, globe — had just taken a precipitous slide down Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, with food, shelter and safety now topmost on many people’s minds. No one can evict you for 90 days. We’re getting hospital beds. We’re recruiting doctors and nurses in training to fight this fight, and we’re coaxing medical professionals out of retirement.

Then he spoke from the heart. One of his daughters was in quarantine. “To tell you the truth, I had some of the best conversations with her that I’ve ever had,” Cuomo said. She was alone for two weeks. “We talked about things in depth that we didn’t have time to talk about in the past,” he continued, “or we didn’t have the courage or the strength to talk about in the past — feelings I had, about mistakes I had made along the way that I wanted to express my regret and talk through with her.”

He was expressing fallibility. Imagine that.