Even as American coronavirus cases continue to spike to the point where hospitals are nearing the point of being overwhelmed, President Donald Trump continues to push for some sort of economic reopening by Easter. But his reasons for thinking this is a good idea remain overtly political instead of based on the public good.
During the White House coronavirus news conference on March 24, CBS reporter Paula Reid asked Trump to respond to the fact that experts “on both sides of the aisle have said that reopening the country by Easter is not a good idea.” Indeed, public health experts broadly agree that Trump’s Easter timeline is premature, given that the coronavirus outbreak is nowhere near under control in America and relaxing social distancing at this stage could make things even worse.
Trump, however, is undeterred. Instead of addressing the substance of Reid’s question, he went on the attack against her and suggested experts who think his timeline is a bad idea are motivated by politics.
“I think there are certain people that would like it to not open so quickly, I think there are certain people that would like it to do financially poorly, because they think that would be very good as far as defeating me at the polls,” Trump said.
As Reid tried to ask a followup, Trump bulldozed her by saying, “I think it’s very clear that there are people in your profession that write fake news. You do.” He added, absurdly, that “you’re lucky that you have this group here right now for this problem, or you wouldn’t even have a country left,” and then moved on without ever really responding to her question.
"I think it's very clear that there are people in profession that write fake news. You do" -- asked about public health experts saying his push to reopen the country by Easter is a bad idea, Trump goes on the attack against a reporter pic.twitter.com/R04DBCuQxT— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 25, 2020
Reid’s question referenced a tweet Trump posted shortly before the press conference in which he bashed the “LameStream Media” for purportedly being the “dominant force” in trying to persuade him “to keep our Country closed as long as possible” because it might be “detrimental to my election success.” But as Reid alluded to, that assertion is at odds with the reality that not a single public health expert, including ones on his White House coronavirus task force, has endorsed his push to relax social distancing guidelines in time for churches to be packed on Easter.
“The real people want to get back to work ASAP,” Trump tweeted, even though polling released on March 25 indicates 74 percent of registered voters either somewhat or strongly support the imposition of even more stringent distancing measures than the ones currently prevailing in most states.
The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success. The real people want to get back to work ASAP. We will be stronger than ever before!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 25, 2020
It appears Trump’s false claim that public opinion is behind his reckless push to prematurely relax social distancing measures may become one of his lies that’s impervious to correction. Just before he walked away from the podium on Wednesday, he repeated it, telling reporters that “our country wants to get back to work.”
"Our country wants to get back to work," Trump says. In fact, polling released today indicates 74 of voters support even more stringent social distancing measures. pic.twitter.com/33DbwNRZKP— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 25, 2020
In reality, Americans would like his government to get the pandemic under control first. Trump, however, seems to realize that the timeline necessary to do that puts his reelection hopes in jeopardy — even if he doesn’t want to admit as much.