Trump’s coronavirus solution: No questions, no experts
President Trump has figured out a way to deal with those pesky reporters who keep asking questions about his dangerous proposals on fighting the coronavirus and to cope with those medical experts who contradict him on his ridiculous remedies.
He has simply stymied their role at the televised White House virus briefings, commandeering them as a propaganda vehicle in his transparent gambit of waging war on the truth and on the American press.
Trump now has disavowed his advocacy last Thursday of fighting the virus by ingesting disinfectants, insisting he was merely speaking “sarcastically.”
It raises doubt that he knows the meaning of sarcasm. My dictionary describes it as “harsh or bitter derision; a sharply ironical taunt or gibe.” Surely, he didn’t mean to make fun of the life-threatening disease. Or did he?
The president’s capacity for serial lying and dissembling has been well-established by now. In repeatedly suggesting that such disinfectants and drugs prescribed for malaria and other fatal illnesses might cure COVID-19, he went down a fearful path for one who acknowledges he is “not a doctor.”
Yet Trump presumed to prescribe as if he were one at the Thursday White House briefing. As he did, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, Dr. Deborah Birx, sat silent and stone-faced as he played doctor.
But when he reiterated his layman’s harmful advocacy of self-digested disinfectants, Trump had to know the attending reporters would diligently press him on it. After Friday’s briefing, he walked out without taking any questions from them. Brix and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, were absent from the briefing.
Some news organizations with accredited reporters assigned to the White House have stopped sending them to the briefings, and some television networks have cut away from the briefings when Trump takes the microphone to propagandize his self-aggrandizing pitch as a battler against the virus.
Days before the disinfectant comments, White House staffers demonstrated their contempt for the press conference as a journalistic institution. They actually produced and aired a Trump campaign advertisement during the press briefing, effectively appropriating it for their own ends.
Thus has the once mutually beneficial exercise for the working press and the president been converted into a White House vehicle for stifling press freedom and enhancing the Trump war on what he continues to castigate as “fake news.” The victim not only is professional journalism, which can defend itself, but the American people as well. They deserve and need to know what the president is saying and doing — or not doing — on their behalf in this critical and perilous time.
In Trump’s latest attempt to speed the nation’s locked-down economy to a return to business as usual, he has shown himself again to a reckless custodian of the public interest. More than ever, his mishandling of the coronavirus crisis may further jeopardize his already difficult path to re-election in November.
His behavior and loose tongue may have already given prospective Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden a stronger argument for re-establishing political normalcy next year, promising a steadier and more predictable hand on the nation’s till.
Biden has also raised the notion that Trump may try to delay the 2020 election, citing Trump’s doubts about the feasibility and honesty of voting by mail, which Biden now advocates if regular polling places are kept closed by Election Day.
In any event, the length and ultimate outcome of the coronavirus crisis could determine the winner of the election as well, as Trump’s latest uncertain trumpet on ending the health catastrophe continues to sound a very sour note.
If incompetence in running the country becomes the clear yardstick in voters’ minds by then, the chaotic reign of Donald Trump could come emphatically to an end.