Trump's lying about the global pandemic continues nonstop. At each White House daily briefing, he unfurls a multitude of falsehoods about the virus, the government's response, and his own previous comments on the crisis. We've never seen anything like this before from an American president during a time of national peril.
In recent days Trump has lied to an anxious nation about:
- Having disbanded the White House's pandemic team.
- The availability of a coronavirus vaccine.
- Americans being able to get tested.
- All Americans returning from overseas are being tested.
- U.S. infections would go down.
- Invoking the Defense Production Act.
- The virus being contained.
- Google creating a website to help people evaluate their virus symptoms.
- FDA approving chloroquine for use in coronavirus.
Yet where are the "Trump Lies About Pandemic" headlines, which would be completely accurate statements for news outlets to make without apology? Why don't we see them and hear them?
Some observers have suggested this is shocking behavior, even for Trump, considering the stakes are so high for the nation in terms of a sweeping national health crisis. And why on earth would Trump lie about that event? But pathological liars like Trump lie about everything. It's like breathing. And that's why D.C. press' refusal for years to label Trump a liar has not only been morally indefensible, but dangerous for the country.
Wasting nearly all of Trump's first term hiding behind claims that he was merely spreading "inaccuracies" or he was "misinformed," the press has allowed Trump pathology to become normalized.
Look at how the New York Times covered the story of Trump's transparent Google lie. According to the newspaper's weirdly creative language, Trump "oversold" the idea of the Google contribution, and "inflated the concept far beyond reality." Note that for anyone using normal, everyday descriptions for current events, that meant Trump just flat-out lied during a national briefing about a monumental health crisis in this country. And he lied about something that would be easily, and almost instantly, found to be false when reporters checked in with Google for confirmation. Trump did that because he makes no calculation about which lies to tell, whether he can get away with them, and if there are any occasions where he should refrain from lying. He just lies about everything, all the time.
And the press won't call him a liar.
Days later, the Times published a front-page piece that documented how his sudden claim that he had always assumed coronavirus would morph into a pandemic was almost comically false. But at the Times, Trump was not lying, he was merely trying to "rewrite his history."
In none of the recent White House press briefings on the pandemic has a single person asked Trump, "Why did you lie about Google having 1,700 engineers working on a coronavirus project for the government?" "Why did you lie when you said whoever wanted to get tested, could get tested?" "Why did you lie when you said the virus had been contained?" "Why did you lie about invoking the Defense Production Act?”
We've seen this pattern for years regarding Trump and the press — he's constantly untruthful, there's an occasional effort to fact check the torrent of falsehoods, and that’s it. There's never any long-term follow-up or implications for Trump. He lies with impunity because the press doesn't hold him accountable by showering the news media landscape with “Trump Lies About Pandemic" headlines and reports.
Instead, Trump spouts falsehoods, reporters express befuddlement, and then Trump starts telling new lies. Wash, rinse, repeat. And yes, it's inconceivable that a Democratic president would be treated this way.
Here's a specific example of the press purposefully refusing to hold Trump accountable. On Wednesday, CNN reported that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed that "two Navy hospital ships being deployed to help respond to the coronavirus outbreak will not treat patients suffering from the virus and will take weeks to deploy." Yet nowhere in the article did CNN mention that at Wednesday's briefing, Trump announced the ships would be ready to come to the aid in one week. Meaning, the entire news here was that Trump once again misled the nation about the government's pandemic response, and CNN did not even acknowledge it. That’s how you normalize him.
“Trump Lies About Pandemic,” is what honest and accurate news organizations would be reporting right now.
We're all trying to cope these days and to find moments to relax and unplug. With TV, I'm currently doing it by watching "McMillions," an HBO documentary series that looks at the widespread corruption that enveloped McDonald's Monopoly give-away games for years. (Hint: The mob got involved.) And for reading, I'm inching towards the end of the Theodore Dreiser's 1925 classic, An American Tragedy, the tale of class, love, and murder.
At Rolling Stone, the always excellent Alan Sepinwall, offers up his TV and streaming picks for the weeks ahead with his "Quarantine Binge Guide."
FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
The Waifs, “Gillian”
Sometimes stumbling upon a great song is like finding $10 in a your jeans pocket — life's simple pleasure. But unlike the $10, a great song you can carry around for years, cashing in with every listen.
To this day, I know very little about the Waifs, an Australian folks rock trio. But this 2011 living recording has been in steady rotation for me since I 'discovered' it three years ago. It's about Gillian, an indomitable force of nature. The song not only has one of the odder twist endings that I can recall, but the live recording itself is so warm and fantastic, you can almost hear the dedicated fans, gathered around the band, hanging on every note. It's a blissful love fest, complete with a giddy sing-along.
Oh Gillian, you're up with the sun
You've done a hundred things before half past nine
By the time most folk are up and gone
You'll be starting on one hundred and one