This weekend, President Donald Trump — among hours on end of other freakouts — retweeted a message from conservative commentator John Cardillo suggesting that Coronavirus death tolls were getting artificially inflated in an attempt to drag the president’s name through the mud. Longtime Trump adviser Peter Navarro evidently was not brought up to speed about the president’s latest conspiracy theory, because when CNN host John Berman questioned him about it during an appearance on the network this Monday, he flailed.
With nearly 55,000 Americans dead on his watch, the President of the United States retweeted a conspiracy theorist's suggestion that the death toll is inflated to make Donald Trump look bad. This is unacceptable and horrifically cruel to those who have lost loved ones. pic.twitter.com/X5pOXQR7qp
— McGrain v. Daugherty, 273 U.S. 135 (1927) (@Joseph_Joe_M) April 27, 2020
‘What evidence do you have, if any, that people are inflating the mortality rate to make the president look bad?’
Navarro claimed that question was the “first I’ve heard of that” and then barked a demand for the next question, but Berman was undeterred.
The host explained the president’s retweet over the weekend, questioning Navarro:
‘The president retweeted something over the weekend suggesting that people were making it seem like more people are dying, or it’s deadlier, somehow to hurt him electorally. You see no evidence of that yourself?’
Navarro indicated that no, he did not see any evidence of that alleged inflation of the death tolls. He replied:
‘I’m focused on the supply chain, John. That’s the first one I’ve heard of that.’
There is, to be clear, no evidence that any Coronavirus death tolls in the U.S. have been artificially inflated. As of early Monday, the U.S. death toll from the Coronavirus stands at well over 55,000. A full ten states have suffered more than 1,000 deaths each, and as of early Sunday, two more states — Maryland and Georgia — are facing death counts only right behind that grim marker.
The president’s suggestion that some of these numbers are artificially inflated mirrors previous rhetoric. After a revised death toll came out reporting that thousands of people had died in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria, Trump — who is always desperately prioritizing trying to make himself look as good as possible, no matter the crisis — called the official death toll fake news. It was not.
Amidst this current crisis, Trump’s desperate attempts for a quick fix have included him parading the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a supposed cure for the Coronavirus. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration warned Americans not to use the drug outside of medical settings.
Navarro, who has advocated for the treatment, claimed to Berman:
‘The FDA announcement was absolutely no change in policy. We’ve said from the beginning that this is the decision between patients and doctors and a discussion of the risks involved are appropriate. Here’s the chessboard I see; we’ve got to date almost 40 studies which show some kind of possible therapeutic… efficacy… If I had to guess what the studies are going to show from New York and Detroit, it’s going to indicate that this may work to reduce viral load and length of hospital stay.’
His implication that the Trump administration has always stuck to clearly telling Americans to consult with medical professionals about hydroxychloroquine is false. At one point, Trump even dubiously asked what Americans have “got to lose” from just taking the drug. Well, they could lose their life.
Well, we now have our answer to Trump's "what have you got to lose?" question about using chloroquine as a coronavirus cure. https://t.co/vzAS72ak0H
— Anthony Zurcher (@awzurcher) April 24, 2020