For a time, President Donald Trump has been participating in daily press conferences about his administration’s ongoing response to the Coronavirus outbreak, but these events have proven hotbeds for controversy. Besides his repeated defenses of his usage of the term “Chinese virus” for the Coronavirus — although the virus definitely isn’t “Chinese” and the moniker has no basis but racism — Trump has also been caught peddling flat-out disinformation. In response, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow suggested this week that the press conferences should be taken off the air entirely.
Just this evening I have seen multiple examples of real world impacts of Trump bullshit. People off to warm climates to evade COVID-19, others stocking up on that malaria drug Trump has a ‘good feeling’ about. People do enough dumb things without the President telling them to.
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) March 21, 2020
At one recent conference, he proudly told those in attendance that a malaria medication “had been approved as a Coronavirus treatment and would be available almost immediately,” Maddow notes — but that is flatly incorrect, as public health officials had to come in and clarify.
‘Telling people a fairy tale like that is cruel, and diverting, and wildly irresponsible from anyone in any leadership role… There is a clear pattern here of the president promising stuff that he knows America would love to hear, but it’s not true. And even stuff that he’s saying he will do, that the federal government will do — he’s not doing.’
Trump said anti-malaria drug chloroquine had been approved and could be given to coronavirus patients by doctors with a prescription.
An FDA spokesperson said the drug had not been approved for use in Covid-19 patients.https://t.co/4bsHFHLpeX
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 19, 2020
Thus, she continued:
‘The specific way in which the president is failing now is clear… It’s making people around the country count on that the federal government is doing that stuff when they’re not… If it were up to me, and it’s not, I would stop putting those briefings on live TV, not out of spite, but because it’s misinformation. If the president does end up saying anything true, you can run it as tape but if he keeps lying like this every day on stuff this important, all of us should stop broadcasting it. Honestly, it’s gonna cost lives.’
Maddow: If Trump is going to keep lying like he has been every day on stuff this important, we should, all of us, stop broadcasting it. Honestly, it's going to cost lives. pic.twitter.com/tMvyrE3YTK
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) March 21, 2020
Trump’s disinformation stretches well beyond the malaria drug gaffe. Trump also claimed, at one point, that well over a million Coronavirus tests would be available within days, but that has, quite simply, not panned out. He claimed that hospital ships run by the Navy would be sent to each coast to assist maxed out healthcare systems, but it was not immediately clear when any ship would actually make that journey. Both mentioned were undergoing maintenance work at the time, and one didn’t even have a set medical crew, let alone anyone on board ready to go and assist. The issue mirrors one surrounding his pronouncement that the government had ordered millions of heavy duty masks to bulk up the nation’s supply of personal protective equipment. That order could take 18 months to fulfill, it turns out. The crisis is unfolding now, not in the future.
“A hospital ship that can’t yet sail, a drug that’s not approved for coronavirus, a windfall of masks that’s not due until next year. Donald Trump has repeatedly overstated his government’s accomplishments as he tries to calm Americans and fight the virus” https://t.co/7CJjSmj1kL
— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) March 20, 2020
All of those issues don’t even cover the fact that for weeks, Trump glibly insisted that the Coronavirus wasn’t even something to be concerned about. He claimed at a rally that concern over the situation was a “hoax,” and he suggested elsewhere that the virus would simply disappear like a miracle and the total case count would wind down to 0.
In reality, almost 20,000 cases and counting have been confirmed in the U.S., and the death toll in the country stands at 276 as of early Saturday.