If you’d prefer to listen to today’s newsletter, click play.
Note to loyal readers: Please consider subscribing for $6 a month. Thanks for keeping PRESS RUN ad-free!
In a wildly misguided attempt at Trump rehabilitation, the New York Times this week suggested Trump deserves credit for the extraordinary success the new Biden administration is having getting Americans vaccinated. Leaning hard into the Both Sides narrative, the Times generously headlined its piece, "Biden Got the Vaccine Rollout Humming, With Trump’s Help."
What the article lacked however, was any compelling evidence that Trump deserves vaccine credit, after having spent all of 2020 completely indifferent to the deadly pandemic, and spreading nonstop public health lies. Fully 60 percent of Americans over the age of 60 have received their first Covid vaccine today, compared to just eight percent under Trump. Biden should rightly take bows for that remarkable trend, after the previous administration showcased its vaccine incompetence.
Under Trump, the U.S. vaccine rollout was seen as a national embarrassment. Under Biden, it’s become a model for the world, administering nearly 100 million shots. And now the Covid relief bill, which Trump and Republicans failed to pass for ten months, will pump billions into helping communities nationwide vaccinate.
The Times article represents some truly egregious revisionist history, politely positioning today's Mar-a-lago resident as a president who simply ran out of time and wasn’t able to get the pandemic job done — who worked hard to create an infrastructure for his Democratic successor. That's a wildly inaccurate retelling of what happened and the almost criminal neglect Trump showed through all of last year in terms of fighting the pandemic and getting Americans vaccinated. Instead, more than half a million died.
Trump wasn't some kind of passive, disinterested bystander during the Covid crisis. He actively made it worse at every possible turn, from the moment he gave the stand down order for the virus invasion last winter ("We have it totally under control"), to lying about testing , telling Americans to ingest cleaning fluids in order to cleanse themselves of the virus, and the complete disregard he showed for mask-wearing right up until his final days in office. In truth, Trump spread more deliberate lies about Covid to a larger audience than anyone else on the planet, according to a study from Cornell University.
Trump purposely contradicted established science and willfully endangering Americans. He virtually silenced the government’s public health experts and welcomed to the White House Dr. Scott Atlas, the Stanford professor and pandemic crackpot —the virus is overblown, the number of deaths is exaggerated! — whom Trump recruited after seeing on Fox News.
That's the totality of Trump's scandalous and deadly Covid behavior. And no, behind the scenes he didn't create a turnkey vaccine distribution operation that Biden plugged in and is now using to help end the pandemic in the U.S.
Incredibly, the Times wasn’t alone in recent days praising Trump’s vaccine work and scolding Biden for not giving him recognition. An annoyed ABC News announced that, “Despite calls for national unity and bipartisanship, President Joe Biden and his top aides have declined to give the Trump administration credit on the nation's COVID-19 vaccine rollout.” Apparently, pledging “unity” means giving credit to the guy who botched vaccinations for months. The Washington Post also joined in the frantic media effort this week to normalize Trump’s negligent behavior.
The ill-advised Times article archly claimed to see through the Biden White House spin. Trying to puncture the Democrat's success, the Times stressed that last week's surprise Biden announcement that American adults would be fully vaccinated by the end of May, was all about "public relations" and "conjured an image of a White House running on all cylinders and leaving its predecessor’s effort in the dust." The Times suggested that was a mirage because the new administration had merely "expanded and bulked up a vaccine production effort whose key elements were in place when Mr. Biden took over for President Donald J. Trump."
Specifically, the Times claimed, "Mr. Biden benefited hugely from the waves of vaccine production that the Trump administration had set in motion. As both Pfizer and Moderna found their manufacturing footing, they were able to double and triple the outputs from their factories."
This makes no sense. Trump was responsible for private pharmaceutical companies setting out to produce a vaccine for a once-in-a-century global pandemic? He's the one who set that production in motion? Obviously, those companies did that on their own, and didn't need the President of the United States to prompt them.
Incredibly, that hollow example was the best one the Times could point to for why Trump deserves kudos for Biden's vaccination success. The whole Both Sides framing on vaccinations doesn't work, and for obvious reasons — it's not true.
The only other attempt the Times article made to bolster its claim was to quote from a former Trump aide: "They criticize what we did, but they are using our playbook every step of the way." The newspaper though, made no attempt to verify those claims. Of course, former Trump advisers are going to say they set up an amazing vaccine program and Biden is benefiting from today. But where's the proof?
Note that previously, we saw stunning revelations about how Trump's team aggressively hindered the vaccine rollout.
From STAT News:
Top Trump officials actively lobbied Congress to deny state governments any extra funding for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout last fall — despite frantic warnings from state officials that they didn’t have the money they needed to ramp up a massive vaccination operation.
The governors of several states accused the Trump administration on Friday of deception in pledging to immediately distribute millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses from a stockpile that the U.S. health secretary has since acknowledged does not exist.
Denying states money. Boasting about a medicine stockpile that didn’t exist. That’s the ugly Trump record on his dismal attempt to help vaccine Americans. No amount of media whitewashing will change that.
(Photo Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images)
🖥 GOOD STUFF:
Facebook algorithms have done extraordinary damage to our democracy. Is there anything that can be done to rescue it from the social media giant’s grip?
From Technology Review’s excellent, new in-depth piece, “How Facebook Got Addicted to Spreading Misinformation”:
“When you’re in the business of maximizing engagement, you’re not interested in truth. You’re not interested in harm, divisiveness, conspiracy. In fact, those are your friends,” says Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley who collaborates with Facebook to understand image- and video-based misinformation on the platform.
“They always do just enough to be able to put the press release out. But with a few exceptions, I don’t think it’s actually translated into better policies. They’re never really dealing with the fundamental problems.”
🎙 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK:
Liz Phair, “Hey Lou”
The iconic 90’s alt-rock singer, formerly of Wicker Park, Chicago, has a new album out this year, and this winning, quirky tune is the first single. The playful premise: Lou Reed was a handful when he dated musician Laurie Anderson.
No-one knows what to think
When you're acting like an asshole
Spilling all the drinks
Talking shit about Warhol