Few if any of those in President Donald Trump’s inner circle seem prepared to deal with even the slightest criticism amidst their unwieldy mess of a so-called response to the Coronavirus crisis. During an interview with 60 Minutes that aired this week, longtime Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro — who has no medical or public health background but has been helping lead White House Coronavirus policy anyway — launched into an angry rant about supposed “fake news” when faced with the simple question of why the administration didn’t act sooner. In January and February, internal reports began circulating in the administration about the potential devastation from the then-looming pandemic, but it took Trump until March to even issue national social distancing guidelines.
Feigning ignorance about the now widely reported intelligence community assessments that the president and his team ignored, Navarro ranted:
‘This is like the fake news stuff. I don’t know what you mean. It’s like if an intelligence agency said a global pandemic could happen, right? I mean, I’m sure they’ve been saying that for decades and nobody took them seriously. Why, I mean black swans are hard to sell. This was the 500-year flood, this hasn’t happened since 1917. You can line up every president since then and say, ‘Why didn’t you think this could happen again,’ but that’s not productive right now.’
President Trump’s trade advisor, Peter Navarro, calls the suggestion that there were warnings of catastrophic consequences from a pandemic “fake news.” But after our interview, a late January memo he wrote surfaced warning almost exactly that. https://t.co/qRXfk86rzx pic.twitter.com/YXCrEOV1af
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) April 12, 2020
In fact, questioning the lack of preparation on the part of the Trump administration is very productive right now, because right now Americans are getting sick and dying across the U.S. in the wake of the White House’s failures to secure adequate protections and even supplies to deal with the pandemic. While Trump pompously asserted at a rally in South Carolina that the Coronavirus concern was a “hoax,” the virus spread, and now more than 22,000 Americans and counting are dead.
In the face of these facts, Navarro insisted that he had “no apologies” for the Trump administration’s Coronavirus response. As he put it:
‘We are, we are doing better and more than any other president could’ve done… You say, ‘This is the best you can?’ It’s, like, oh, somebody could’ve done better. Really? Who could’ve done better on this? I mean, really, think about this.’
Well, in a recent Politico-Morning Consult poll, a full 52 percent of respondents said that they thought Barack Obama would handle the Coronavirus pandemic better than Trump. Only 38 percent said they thought Trump would turn out better than Obama.
Navarro, besides the above, belligerently challenged host Bill Whitaker to produce a past 60 Minutes episode outlining potential pandemic dangers before launching any more criticism of the Trump administration. Although 60 Minutes is a news organization and comparing their own treatment of pandemic dangers to that of the federal government is ludicrous — the 60 Minutes team did have examples of their own past alarms ready to go. In 2005 and 2009, they aired episodes spotlighting potential pandemic dangers from the avian flu and swine flu, respectively.
NAVARRO: “Show me episodes during the Obama and Bush administrations that said the global pandemic was coming.”
60 MINUTES: “Here you go”.
— jay arnold 🎬 (@jadedcreative) April 13, 2020
Next up amidst the pandemic is the question of when the economy will be reopened after the social distancing measures enacted to stem the virus’s spread. This Monday morning, Trump claimed that the decision was up to him and not the governors around the country who have actually implemented stay-at-home orders. That’s just completely false.
….It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons. With that being said, the Administration and I are working closely with the Governors, and this will continue. A decision by me, in conjunction with the Governors and input from others, will be made shortly!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2020