President Donald Trump addressed the nation in a rare Oval Office speech, in an attempt that immediately failed to calm the American people and the markets. Trump not only did not assuage fears, he expanded them by not sharing the full truth of the coronavirus pandemic, by framing the virus as a “foreign” attack, and by telegraphing falsehoods further damaging his and his administration’s credibility.
Here’s what happened.
The President chose to spend Wednesday with the top executives of the nation’s biggest banks on Wednesday. They “played to the president’s ego – told him the fundamentals of the economy are strong and that he made it that way – but that the psychology of the public needs to change,” according to The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman.
That was part of what helped move the president toward giving a public address. Those executives share his view – held by others at the White House – that the media is overstating the severity of the virus.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) March 11, 2020
That’s why Trump delivered his disastrous prime time Oval Office speech Wednesday night, which did anything but what he had hoped to accomplish.
The markets were actually poised to open Thursday morning up hundreds of points, a small improvement over weeks of near-daily triple and quadruple point drops.
And as Trump began speaking to the American people, the markets heard what he was saying – and not saying – and futures tanked.
DOW futures dropped over 1000 points within minutes of Trump finishing his short speech.
And just minutes into Thursday’s open, the DOW dropped so far it triggered an automatic “circuit breaker,” pausing trading for 15 minutes. As of this writing the DOW is down over 1800 points, on top of Wednesday’s 1400 point drop.
What President Trump was saying – and not saying – was the result of his decision to turn to the two people he often turns to in a crisis: His 39-year old son-in-law who he made Senior Advisor to the President, Jared Kushner, and his 34-year old senior advisor for policy, the white nationalist Stephen Miller.
Calling it “vintage Trump,” The New York Times reports the President “blamed European and Chinese people for bringing the outbreak to the United States, describing it ominously as a ‘foreign virus,’ language that reflected the isolationist views of his chief speechwriter, Stephen Miller, who alongside Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, helped draft the address.”
Trump also “repeated another theme — that he viewed the virus as something that was inflicted upon him from a foreign country. He wanted to discuss ‘our nation’s unprecedented response to the coronavirus outbreak that started in China and is now spreading throughout the world,’ he said.”
It’s no wonder, given the people Trump turned to to write his speech, that it was riddled with errors – important error that have injected fear – more fear – into the hearts of Americans.
For example, Trump said his ban on all travel into the U.S. from Europe, with an exemption to the U.K., where he owns several golf resorts, applied to almost all.
“To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days,” Trump told the American people Wednesday night. “There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval. Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing. ”
That panicked countless Americans overseas, as this New York Times investigative reporter explains:
Bedlam at U.S.-bound airlines at CDG in Paris early this a.m., as Americans pay as much as $20,000 for last-minute flights. pic.twitter.com/kkbOAEFn4Y
— Mike McIntire (@mmcintire) March 12, 2020
2/ I know because I’m one of them. Was awakened at 2:15 am Paris time by a concerned relative in America saying “Trump just banned all travel from Europe!” Turning on TV, I saw that indeed appeared to be so.
— Mike McIntire (@mmcintire) March 12, 2020
Those weren’t the only falsehoods Trump told America in his prime time address.
Pres Trump tonight:
– Wrongly told the world trade with Europe was suspended
-apparently wrongly said health insurers are waiving out of pocket for treatment
-exempted UK from travel ban (UK has 460 cases to date) unclear why
-detailed no new domestic public health measures
— Todd Zwillich (@toddzwillich) March 12, 2020
Here’s another example:
Let this sink in.
During a worldwide pandemic creating ongoing economic shock Trump ACCIDENTALLY ANNOUNCED A BAN OF CARGO SHIPMENTS FROM EUROPE
This is an absolute circus.https://t.co/syU1XhJHYf
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) March 12, 2020
Trump’s claim tonight that health insurers “have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments” seems to be news to them.
“For testing. Not for treatment.” a spokesperson for the major insurance lobby AHIP says.
— Sarah Owermohle (@owermohle) March 12, 2020
And this: A Fox News reporter posted this tweet, which Trump retweeted.
It’s false, as several have pointed out:
The SBA doesn’t make loans, though. pic.twitter.com/WzGvQzKooS
— Rob Nelson (@rnelson0) March 12, 2020
Meanwhile, back to Jared.
“According to Politico, President Trump is delaying his decision on whether or not to declare a national emergency to combat the spread of coronavirus on the expert public-health opinion of fellow real-estate developer and fortunate son Jared Kushner,” New York Magazine’s Matt Stieb writes. “Trump is holding off on a national emergency decision until Kushner ‘finishes his research and comes to a conclusion himself.'”
As the government continues to botch testing and fail to flatten the outbreak curve, one imagines Kushner’s preparation this time around: working from home in Kalorama, watching Contagion, and Googling “Ken Burns Spanish Flu.”
Image via Wikimedia
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There Was No ‘Unmasking’ Because Flynn’s Name Wasn’t Masked: Former Senior Gov’t. Officials
Another right wing conspiracy theory down the drain.
For days if not weeks the right has insisted various Obama administration officials had targeted former Lt. General Mike Flynn, trying to “unmask” his name from transcripts on intercepted calls with Russian officials.
That was a ludicrous assertion, since “masked” names are masked and no one knows who they are until they are unmasked.
But now, as The Washington Post reports, Flynn’s name actually wasn’t even masked.
“A Republican effort to determine who may have leaked the name of Michael Flynn in connection to his 2016 contact with the Russian ambassador has centered on the question of which Obama administration officials requested his identity be ‘unmasked’ in intelligence documents,” The Post reports.
“But in the FBI report about the communications between the two men, Flynn’s name was never redacted, former U.S. officials said.”
“When the FBI circulated [the report], they included Flynn’s name from the beginning” because it was essential to understanding its significance, said a former senior U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive intelligence. “There were therefore no requests for the unmasking of that information.”
This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. This story will be updated, and NCRM will likely publish follow-up stories on this news. Stay tuned and refresh for updates.
‘Social Distancing Inside’: Fox & Friends Celebrates Crowd Protesting Shutdown as NJ Gym Opens Against State Orders
“Fox & Friends” is applauding a New Jersey gym owner and the crowd that’s come to support his decision to re-open against state COVID-19 orders. New Jersey has the second-highest coronavirus death toll in the country, with more that 10,000 people succumbing to the virus.
All morning co-host Pete Hegseth has been reporting live from outside the gym in Bellmawr, where a crowd has grown to see the owner’s act of civil disobedience that could lead to more coronavirus infections.
The crowd is filled with people protesting the shutdown order who have also turned the pandemic into politics. Some are holding signs, with at least one reading, “Stay Poor, Vote Democrat.” Very few are wearing masks, no one is practicing social distancing. They are chanting, “USA! USA!” Studies show the louder someone’s voice, the more coronavirus particles can travel and spread.
FOX NEWS ALERT pic.twitter.com/Krh6rw9Sth
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) May 18, 2020
Hegseth, who infamously said last year he does not wash his hands and does not believe germs are “real” because he cannot see them, says gym members will be practicing social distancing “inside.”
There are about 50 to 100 people standing close together outside the gym.
“We’ll see what the governor does, trying to shut down a small business who’s trying to make a living,” Hegseth tells his co-hosts, who are broadcasting from their homes. He adds that the protestors are “yelling, ‘Open New Jersey now,’ and that’s what you hear from the signs.”
“Ultimately they feel like, ‘Hey, we’ve flattened the curve, we’ve done our part, and now it’s time to let people be responsible individuals.'”
Fox & Friends gives glowing coverage to a New Jersey gym reopening in defiance of a lockdown order, with protesters not wearing masks or social distancing. But Pete Hegseth says “they’re taking protocols, taking temperatures at the front door … social distancing inside.” pic.twitter.com/DtKfjh6z7v
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) May 18, 2020
“You guys have been a voice for millions,” Hegseth tells the gym owner. They claim they do not meet the definition of catering to the “public” because they have “members.” They say they’re standing up for the 14th Amendment.
Hegseth tells them, “people are resonating with you and your message.”
As of just after 8 AM the police had not yet shut the gym down.
Fox & Friends is banking on a live confrontation this morning between a New Jersey gym owner and the state police. pic.twitter.com/uVUsH0EbO4
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) May 18, 2020
Even bigger crowd:
totally nuts pic.twitter.com/NH3Ls8hGRM
— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) May 18, 2020
White House Again Downplays Importance of Coronavirus Testing: ‘Not Preventative’
On Monday President Donald Trump held an hour-long press conference, complete with banners falsely proclaiming “America Leads the World in Testing.” On Tuesday White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who takes her orders directly from President Trump, minimized the importance of testing.
President Trump had bragged about what he claimed was “the unprecedented testing capacity developed by the United States — the most advanced and robust testing system anywhere in the world, by far,” and that the United States was about to “pass 10 million tests conducted — nearly double the number of any other country.”
On Tuesday McEnany appeared to devalue the importance of testing.
“Testing is not preventative,” McEnany told reporters at a short White House press conference. “Preventative is wearing this mask,” she added, holding up a mask but not wearing one.
“Preventative is social distancing,” which the President and many in the White House have refused to practice.
“Preventative is washing your hands. These are measures we need to take to safely re-open, um and then we’ll use testing strategically, for contract [sic] tracing purposes, for example. So, that’s the way it should be used and deployed,” McEnany said, which is at best inaccurate and at worst dangerously false.
Testing is preventative when those who test positive are removed from contact with the rest of the population, via self-isolation or quarantine – something President Trump and his press secretary appear to not understand.
Kayleigh McEnany: testing is not preventative pic.twitter.com/aLQlF8WxwU
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) May 12, 2020
McEnany went on to lecture a reporter, saying, “every state is better off than South Korea at this moment.”
South Korea has had 258 deaths, thanks to the fast action – including testing – they took immediately.
That’s five (yes, 5) deaths per million people.
Only 18 states have had fewer total deaths than South Korea. None have come close to that nation’s per capita death rate.
White House reporters noted McEnany left the press conference without wearing a mask.
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