We learned today that Trump knew in early February that the coronavirus was deadlier than the flu, that it was airborne, and that it posed a danger to young people. Weeks after making these taped comments, he repeatedly assured the general public that the exact opposite was true. On February 28 at one of his rallies, he even called the coronavirus a Democrat hoax.
In a public health crisis, we need accurate information from the person in charge, and we need someone to tell us the truth. If there is public health information that could impact us, we need it to be shared with us.
I wasn’t surprised by this story today –– it fits Trump’s pattern of misinformation. I didn’t believe what he said publicly about the virus back in February and March because the stats and evidence so clearly told a different story.
But so many people did believe. And because of their belief in something that was a lie, they shared that misinformation with all their friends in conversations and on social media and made decisions that may have risked their lives and the lives of others.
The spin out of the White House today by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany didn’t even surprise me. Not even when she said, “The president never downplayed the virus” and Trump’s actual words were “I wanted to always play it down…I still like playing it down.”
McEnany’s deflection strategy was to remind us that Trump felt it was “important to express calm” –– she used the word “calm” 14 times to describe why Trump lied. We all know that expressing calm is one of Trump’s strong points. Remember these classic tweets? “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” or “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!; LIBERATE MINNESOTA!; LIBERATE VIRGINIA.” Nothing calmer than instigating violence and a stuck caps lock key.
McEnany was honest about one thing that she said today: Trump is “the most transparent president in history” –– most of us have been seeing through him for years.