The last 24 hours have been a stretch even for Donald Trump. He’s raised his gaslighting up a notch by downplaying a virus that he himself is fighting. His choreographed stunt last night when he returned to the White House and stood frozen on the balcony is being compared to the behavior of dictators like Italy’s Benito Mussolini in World War II.
Trump tried to suppress a cough during his deranged Mussolini moment pic.twitter.com/DDyi4e2Ej4
— MeidasTouch.com (@MeidasTouch) October 6, 2020
The US President’s cheerleaders seemed to think the comparison with Mussolini was a compliment https://t.co/3BqsZk7yUc
— Evening Standard (@standardnews) October 6, 2020
After the staged photo opp, Trump released a video about coronavirus where he said “Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it. We have the best medical equipment, we have the best medicines.” The Intercept called it a public disservice announcement:
The video he left the hospital to film, which was posted on the official White House Twitter and Facebook feeds less than an hour later, could hardly have been more conducive to the spread of the illness had it been scripted by the virus itself.
In it, Trump downplayed the health risks of the disease that required him to spend three days in the hospital, where he received supplemental oxygen, an aggressive course of steroids, the antiviral medication remdesivir and an experimental antibody treatment. Few Americans afflicted with Covid-19 have had access to one of those medications, let alone all three.
Try telling the 210,000 dead Americans’ friends and family not to be afraid of the virus that killed their loved ones. You are a weak, weak, man!
— Mrs. Krassenstein (@HKrassenstein) October 6, 2020
CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted:
I would like to know who at the White House watched this and said “yes, that’s great, he caught the virus to lead, this is a winning message, post it.”
As if that video didn’t include enough misinformation, Trump tweeted this false comparison today to the flu.
Flu season is coming up! Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu. Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 6, 2020
In that tweet Trump contradicts his own statement to Bob Woodward earlier this year where he said this about COVID-19:
“It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu…This is deadly stuff.”
And in reality, the CDC estimates between 12,000 to 61,000 flu deaths in each of the last 10 years.
Meanwhile, many people (experts included) have been quick to point out there is a good chance that Trump’s health isn’t improving. His symptoms are just being masked by medication and he also hasn’t reached days 7-10 of the virus, which is often when symptoms worsen for coronavirus patients.
Trumps "it's just the flu!" messaging on COVID is likely to be quite unpopular, but it will be even more so if he's also still demonstrably suffering from personal health problems caused by COVID.
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) October 6, 2020
Even if Trump’s condition doesn’t get worse, he is doing a disservice to other Americans who don’t have the same access to top-notch medical care that he can receive.
We are witnessing a death match between Selfishness and Stupidity.
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) October 6, 2020
MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough called Trump’s actions over the last 24 hours, “Outrageously stupid. Outrageously wreckless. Outrageously dangerous.” (Watch above)
Chris Cuomo actually refused to air the video Trump put out calling it “bullsh*t” and “propaganda… fronting a lie to his people.”
"Don't be afraid of Covid? 10,000 have died in the last 13 days. Don't be afraid of Covid? It just took down the most powerful and protected person in the world… his continued recklessness makes it impossible to be sympathetic."
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) October 6, 2020
Don Lemon took things a step further, suggesting what the White House doing is criminal:
“This administration, these folks are exposing people to the virus, recklessly without abandon, not caring. What are their consequences? The consequences of exposing people knowingly to a potentially deadly virus… are they above the law.”
“He has turned an American tragedy into a made-for-TV travesty.”
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) October 6, 2020
*This post contains opinion and analysis