Trump Is Spreading Disinformation About Coronavirus — and There’s No Way to Stop Him
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:
With approximately 100,000 CoronaVirus cases worldwide, and 3,280 deaths, the United States, because of quick action on closing our borders, has, as of now, only 129 cases (40 Americans brought in) and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 5, 2020
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.
Tweets like this make it seem more and more like the inadequate testing has been an intentional strategy to keep the numbers artificially low. https://t.co/03KLrjMwOB
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) March 5, 2020
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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Watch: Fox News Attacks Biden for Not ‘Condemning’ Will Smith
Unemployment has dropped so low there are now five million more job openings than unemployed Americans. The stock market continues to rebound from the drops it suffered when Russian President Vladimir Putin started his illegal war against Ukraine. COVID hospitalizations and deaths continue to drop. President Biden has regained America’s place as the leader of the free world, and Russia is in such desperate straits some believe Putin’s reign is coming to an end.
Donald Trump’s fate and the fate of some of his top aides and allies look increasingly dire as bombshell after bombshell drop, sometimes more than one a day, and to some it may appear Trump and Putin will be removed from the public stage at some point in the near future.
And while the price of gas is still a topic of conversation and inflation is the latest boogeyman, the Fox News-GOP partnership is running out of crises to wave in front of their base, so they’ve now returned to manufacturing them.
On Wednesday an unknown reporter asked Biden’s Director of Communications Kate Bedingfield if the White House “condones” the “level of violence” Will Smith “unleashed” on Chris Rock at the Oscars.
Fox News propagandists Harris Faulkner and Pete Hegseth jumped on that question – one that was roundly denounced the moment it was asked by many on social media.
“This White House is creating confusion,” said Fox News’ Pete Hegseth Wednesday, out of nowhere.
“And this is what I said yesterday,” Harris Faulkner replied, “with all the things that we have going on, even there – but our inflation, here are our crime here with everything we have going on, please stop making all of us focus on what he’s focused on, which is not being clear,” she said, falsely claiming Biden cannot communicate.
Faulkner is demanding the President of the United States not set the agenda for the country, a remarkable demand after four-plus years of his predecessor’s every thought receiving microscopic attention.
“Alright, I want to get to this because it is now beyond the Oscars. This this is a bigger situation now with Will Smith and Chris Rock, it’s opened a door on, you know, what do we want our kids to see? Who do we want our society to look like?” she added strangely. “It is a bigger thing.”
“The White House now has refused to comment or condemn Will Smith for smacking Chris Rock across the face at the Oscars,” Faulkner announced, because this White House has a policy, set by President Biden, of staying focused and not getting swept up in every minute scandal or social media sensation.
Even the video clip Faulkner showed includes Bedingfield saying President Biden didn’t watch the Oscars so they have no comment. The White House did not “refuse to condemn” anything, they just didn’t have a comment.
“The President was not able to watch the Oscars,” Bedingfield told the errant reporter. “Didn’t see it. So I don’t have anything. I don’t have any official comment from him or from the White House on this.”
Pete Hegseth, who it should be noted has (or at least, had) a policy of not washing his hands because he cannot see germs, weighed in:
“The White House has had no problem condemning issues of less consequence inside our culture. Clearly, they are copping out on this one.”
Fox News is now outraged that *checks notes* the White House is not weighing in on Will Smith slapping Chris Rock.
Pete Hegseth: “The White House has had no problem condemning issues of less consequence inside our culture. Clearly, they are copping out on this one.” pic.twitter.com/IubdiT4xVe
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) March 30, 2022
Former Trump Official Claims Biden Choosing First Black Woman Justice Bars ‘Hispanics, Asians and Gays’
A highly-controversial former Trump official is claiming President Joe Biden’s promise to seat the first Black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court is discriminatory.
Richard Grenell, who served as Trump’s Acting Director of National Intelligence, and as Trump’s Ambassador to Germany, was seen by at least one lawmaker in Berlin as a “biased propaganda machine.” On Thursday Grenell attacked President Biden by attacking another Democrat, former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart.
Lockhart served as President Bill Clinton’s White House Press Secretary. On Thursday he tweeted, “Ahead of the midterms, I look forward to watching every Republican Senator oppose the first black woman to the Supreme Court.”
Earlier in the day Grenell posted a similar tweet:
Asians, gays and Hispanics had no shot for a Supreme Court seat from Joe Biden.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) January 27, 2022
Conservatives, including on the far right which Grenell has been accused of having ties to, have been falsely claiming it’s “racist” to choose a Supreme Court Justice who is Black and a woman.
Those same conservatives are apparently ignorant of the fact that smart presidents, like smart managers, create a Supreme Court team. There’s no such things as “the most qualified,” nor is there any way, any right way, to measure. Presidents, smart presidents, want justices who are young so they can have a decades-long impact on the nation and its future. They want great minds who are able to work behind the scenes to win over their colleagues. And, unlike Republicans, they want justices who have the lived experiences of more and more Americans –because the law is not stagnant, despite what the originalists and textualists falsely claim.
Here’s Grenell, attacking President Biden through Lockhart:
Joe Lockhart celebrates barring Hispanics, Asians and gays for a Supreme Court seat. https://t.co/gSQC8bprKU
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) January 27, 2022
Some responses to Grenell’s tweet:
Being a woman and black doesn’t necessarily make one straight ….
— Alex 🏳️🌈 (@Sanvers_TV) January 27, 2022
So there are no gay black women? Idiocy, the GQP way.
— Snyder (@madgamecc69) January 27, 2022
God, you’re exhausting. Would a gay Hispanic-Asian-African-American liberal suffice for you then?
— Dominic Antonio Crossey (He/Him) (@DominicACrossey) January 27, 2022
How many of those types of people were on the Heritage Foundation list that your old boss picked from? How many of those were on his short list? Maybe I missed the multicultural open call for the last three.
— just Todd (@ToddBergman) January 27, 2022
‘Never Forget’: Critics Blast ‘Senator Sedition Fist’ Josh Hawley on Anniversary of His Fox News Insurrection Threat
U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), whose fist-in-the-sky photo taken in front of the Capitol January 6 became emblematic of Donald Trump’s insurrection, is being raked over the coals as Americans remember the threat he delivered in a Fox News interview just one year ago today.
When you look up traitor in the dictionary you should find this picture of Josh Hawley taken January 6th. pic.twitter.com/x2C1QMmEMn
— Chris Hahn (@ChristopherHahn) January 4, 2022
Here he is, talking on January 4 last year with Fox News’ Bret Baier, who bluntly told him “Congress doesn’t have the right to overturn” the election.
Hawley then countered with a misreading of the Constitution, but his claim that Trump could remain president depending “on what happens on Wednesday,” January 6, is to many chilling:
That video, first posted one year ago today, has gone viral:
BRET BAIER: I want to pin you down on what you’re trying to do. Are you trying to say that Trump will be president after January 20?
JOSH HAWLEY: Well, that depends on what happens on Wednesday
BAIER: No it doesn’t
(Trump in fact lost an election!) pic.twitter.com/vsO2JyRJuk
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 5, 2021
“Never forget exactly 1 year ago today, Josh Hawley was on Fox spreading the big lie for Trump,” wrote on social media user. “He’s as guilty as anyone when it comes to the insurrection & if we lose the house in ’22, people like this Hitler wannabee will be first in line to overthrow democracy.”
“Hard to believe Senator Sedition Fist, aka Josh Hawley, is still a sitting Senator after this,” said another.
Other responses include:
“Josh Hawley is a dangerous fascist and he needs to answer for his crimes from January 6th.”
“Raise your hand if Josh Hawley is a seditious traitor who should be expelled from Congress ASAP!”
“We don’t talk about it enough, but Josh Hawley attempted to stop the certification of a presidential election and incited the attack on the U.S. Capitol.”
“A year isn’t enough time to forget that Josh Hawley (along with Grassley, Cruz, and others) spread misinformation about the election and even made statements implying that they expected it to be overturned. All of them traitors!”
A few more:
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.)
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.)
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
Defeated President, Donald Trump@FBI Here ya go! https://t.co/GBLTUp2jtU
— Pridegoesbeforethefall (@moderateresist) January 4, 2022
Josh Hawley was the 1st Senator to say he would NOT certify #Biden as President! Hawley wanted to get ahead of every Repub, including #TedCruz, to get attention! 3 Senators have been expelled & it was over the Civil War! #JoshHawley & Cruz should be EXPELLED for this coup plot!!
— Dan Pereira (@ddanpereira) January 4, 2022
Never forget Josh Hawley’s role in all of this. https://t.co/uJj02Jfepp
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) January 4, 2022
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