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OPINION

Trump Is Spreading Disinformation About Coronavirus — and There’s No Way to Stop Him

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President Donald Trump is actively spreading disinformation about the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Late Thursday morning, for example, Trump sent the following tweet:

This is not so. There are undoubtedly more than 129 cases in the United States; the problem is, testing has been so slow — and at times completely botched — that we don’t have a good sense of how many cases of coronavirus there are in the country. So Trump is trying to use his own administration’s ineptitude as a reason to think the crisis is less severe than it is. And some analysts believe that the actual number of cases is much higher than the number of confirmed cases. The outlet Stat reported on one analysis that looked just at Seattle:

The author of the analysis, a computational biologist named Trevor Bedford, said there are likely already at least 500 to 600 cases of Covid-19 in the greater Seattle area. He urged health authorities and the public to immediately begin adopting non-pharmaceutical interventions — imposing “social distancing” measures, telling the sick to isolate themselves, and limiting attendance at large gatherings.

“Now would be the time to act,” Bedford, who is at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, told STAT.

As long as a large number of cases are unconfirmed, the virus will be more likely to spread.

All of which makes it obvious that Trump’s claim that he closed the borders to reduce the spread of the virus is false. He never did such a thing. The Trump administration did limit entry to the U.S. from non-Americans who had traveled to China, where the virus originated, but this is not “closing the borders.” (Closing the borders is a bad idea, anyway.) And when Americans who had been in China and were potentially carrying the virus were repatriated to the United States, U.S. officials were improperly to work with them and lacked the necessary medical protection, according to a whistleblower. These workers may have spread the infection further.

This isn’t the first time that Trump has intentionally deceived the American people about the number of cases in the United States. In his first press conference on the crisis, Trump repeated and erroneously referred to “15” Americans who had at that time been found to be infected with the virus; this number was actually a subset of the 60 who had been found to be infected. And he predicted this number would soon go down close to zero, even though none of the administration’s health experts were making such a claim.

His effort to downplay and mislead the public about the crisis is particularly disturbing when you consider that Trump said: “We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!” Taken literally, this suggests that they care more about keeping the reportednumber of infections down more than they care about keeping the actual number low. Usually, this would be an unfair and uncharitable way to interpret a public official’s statement, but Trump long ago lost the benefit of the doubt. As we’ve seen, he’s actively inclined to obscure the truth about the outbreak. And one way in which his administration has been deficient in responding to the virus is in its failure to provide enough test kits and information to the medical professionals on the front lines responding to the crisis. While the actual cause for this delay remains unclear, it’s tempting to conclude that the president’s active disinterest in the truth about the crisis could be playing some role.

Trump has promoted other dangerous falsehoods about the outbreak:

  • Trump said the World Health Organization’s estimate of a 3.4 percent death rate for infections was “really a false number. “Now this is just my hunch, but based on a lot of conversations,” Trumps said on Fox News, “personally, I’d say the number is way under 1 percent.” The true death rate is unknown and disputed in good faith, and the WHO figure may not be accurate, but Trump’s dismissal of it as “false” is baseless.
  • Trump discussed the fact that people could go to work while carrying the virus and get better, seeming to suggest this would be fine. In fact, public health experts are urging people not to go to work if they are sick or infected.
  • He repeatedly compared the virus to the flu, even though estimates suggest the Covid-19 is much deadlier. And its impact on society could be much more severe than the flu because it has the potential to overburden the medical system.
  • Trump has repeatedly said that a vaccine for the virus could be coming soon, even though administration officials have consistently told him and the public that a year to a year-and-a-half is the best-case scenario for having a vaccine ready for widespread use.
  • When asked whether he agreed with his supporters, such as Rush Limbaugh — who falsely claimed the coronavirus was the “common cold” and that it was being weaponized against Trump — Trump said he agreed. He later said the coronavirus was the Democrats’ new “hoax,” though he later said he meant the reactions to the outbreak were the “hoax.”

Many of these claims are actively dangerous. Trump consistently downplays the state of outbreak, and he used the issue to attack the media, which the public will need to rely on for vital information for their own protection. By promoting lies and deceptive spin about the crisis, Trump can encourage dangerous behavior in his supporters and an inadequate response from his administration.

But he remains the president. Democrats tried to remove him for office for a scandal in which he did the same exact thing he’s doing now — placing his own short-sighted interests above the needs of the country — but they failed. Republicans refuse to do anything significant to check his behavior. So until at least January 2021, the United States will be stuck with a man leading the federal government who seems to be acting in ways that make a public health threat worse.

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OPINION

Trump Just Set a Trap for Himself and Walked Right in – Commits to ‘Distribution’ of Coronavirus Vaccine Within Weeks

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President Donald Trump for months has been promising a coronavirus vaccine by November 1 – just days before Election Day. It started back in early August, when he told Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera a vaccine would be ready before the end of the year, and it “could be much sooner.”

“Sooner than November 3?” Rivera asked Trump – feeding him an impossible expectation.

“I think in some cases, yes possible before, but right around that time,” Trump replied, taking the bait.

It didn’t take long for the Candidate-in-Chief to power up the campaign lies and wouldn’t you know, America, Trump promised we will have a coronavirus vaccine in early October.

“We’re within weeks of getting it,” Trump promised ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos Tuesday night. “You know, could be three weeks, four weeks, but we think we have it.”

On Wednesday Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, pushed that date even earlier, to “potentially by the end of September.”

Trump is all in, and one-hundred percent committed to a vaccine in the next few weeks.

He has laid a huge trap for himself, walked right in, and has no way out.

Trump very easily could have declared, when Americans don’t have access to the vaccine by the end of September, or the beginning of October, or November 1, that he just meant the vaccine would be approved. Ready to be manufactured.

On Wednesday Trump promised “distribution” of the vaccine within weeks, meaning in the hands of doctors and nurses and other medical professionals who will begin to inoculate America. (He also said nothing about safety or effectiveness.)

The Director of the CDC on Wednesday told America a coronavirus vaccine would not be “generally available” until early spring or in the summer.

Trump told reporters Dr. Robert Redfield was mistaken.

And then, he walked right in to his own trap.

“I’m telling you, here’s the bottom line,” Trump said at Wednesday’s press conference, while lashing out at a reporter. “Distribution’s going to be very rapid, he might not know that, maybe he’s not aware of that, and maybe he’s not dealing with the military, etc., like I do. Distribution’s going to be very rapid.”

One hour earlier Joe Biden told Americans they should not trust a vaccine from the Trump administration unless the president can answer three basic questions:

  1. “What criteria will be used to ensure that a vaccine meets the scientific standard of safety and effectiveness?”
  2. “If the administration greenlights a vaccine, who will validate that the decision was driven by science rather than politics? What group of scientists will that be?”
  3. “How can we be sure that the distribution of the vaccine will take place safely, cost-free and without a hint of favoritism?”

Voters should judge the candidates by their promises, if those promises are realistic, and if they keep them. And cast their ballot accordingly.

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OPINION

Donald Trump’s Lie About Coronavirus Is Another Impeachable Offense: Signorile

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This article first appeared in Michelangelo Signorile’s Substack newsletter. To see the article in its original location or to subscribe, click here.

We’re less than two months away from the presidential election and Donald Trump has now been exposed again as knowing how “deadly” coronavirus was even as he told Americans there would soon be no cases, that it would “fade away” and that it was even a “hoax.” But this time it’s with his own words, on audio recordings. There’s no getting away from it.

Trump continued to hold rallies, fought against mask-wearing and business and school shutdowns even as he knew it was “not just older people” but “it’s plenty of young people.” He even admitted on tape to famed journalist Bob Woodward that, even knowing all that, he wanted to “play it down,” and “I still want to play it down.”

That’s just the tip of the iceberg from Woodward’s new book, “Rage.”

The 18 interviews Woodward conducted with Trump go back as early February and March, when Trump was downplaying the virus to the American people.

“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call with Woodward. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu. This is deadly stuff.”

This was while Trump was giving speeches and press conferences saying the flu was worse than coronavirus and that many more people die from the flu. It’s mind-boggling that he’d give this interview and not have an awareness that six months later it would be public and almost 200,000 Americans would be dead from coronavirus.

To read the remainder of this article, visit Michelangelo Signorile’s Substack newsletter.

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OPINION

Conservative CNN Pundit Explains How Trump Is Working to Rig the Election: ‘This Isn’t a Cover-Up. It’s What’s Ahead’

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Amanda Carpenter is not a liberal. She not even a moderate. She’s worked for two of the most right wing Republican Senators and at several far right wing publications. Now a CNN conservative contributor, Carpenter is also anti-Trump. And she’s warning about how she thinks President Donald Trump is already rigging the election.

Wednesday evening she posted a Twitter thread in response to Attorney General Bill Barr’s disastrous and disturbing CNN interview. One part of his comments, she says, that “set off alarm bells” for her was Barr’s odd insistence that a foreign government could send thousands of fake ballots to rig the election – and that he refused to offer and evidence, other than what he says is “logic.”

Here’s Barr making the strange claim to Wolf Blitzer. Notice how Blitzer seems stunned and for a moment speechless when Barr says “logic.”

Carpenter, who by the way was a senior staffer for Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Jim DeMint, goes on to explain her reasoning.

Basically, she’s saying Trump is going full-force against mail-in ballots, while the Trump administration lays the groundwork to blame China for rigging the election against him. Carpenter explains how:

“Let me tell you why. Trump has said the election will be rigged. He has cast aspersions over mail-in ballots. And now the AG is suggesting foreign interference w mail in ballots. While the Admin refuses to provide oral briefings about election interference to Congress.”

Yes, the Trump administration has notified Congress it will no longer provide them with in-person intelligence briefings. Only written information.

“That means whatever written story about election interference that goes to Congress is the story,” she continues. “No pushback. And print material leaks. They will set the narrative. Barr and others are saying don’t worry about Russia. It’s China that’s the problem.”

China allegedly is in favor of a Biden presidency over as Trump presidency.

“You don’t need a crystal ball to see it. Blame China for rigging mail-in ballots,” she warns.

“This isn’t a cover-up. It’s what’s ahead.”

By the way, CNN Anchor and Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto seems to agree with Carpenter:

 

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