erik lundegaard

Friday May 15, 2020

Trump Spills Beans on Why U.S. Coronavirus Response Has Been So Abysmal

Yesterday, in a speech in Pennsylvania, in the midst of a pandemic that is killing people, businesses and economies around the world, the president of the United States said the following: 

“And don't forget, we have more cases than anybody in the world. But why? Because we do more testing. When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn't do any testing, we would have very few cases.

”They [the media] don't want to write that. It's common sense.“

This gets to the heart of Donald Trump—particularly as it relates to the Covid-19 pandemic: HE DOESN'T WANT TO KNOW. He's more worried about the numbers than he is about the American people. 

This Trumpian disconnect has been obvious from the crisis' beginning. On March 7, for example, he wanted to deny a Princess Cruise ship port of entry along the west coast because of coronavirus cases on the ship. Was he worried about the virus spreading in the U.S.? If so, that's not what he said. Here's what he said: ”I like the numbers being where they are. I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault.“ 

For any president to say what Trump said yesterday—that it's better to have less knowledge than more, because with less knowledge we can pretend everything is going great—well, it should be shocking. Particularly during a pandemic. So how did the press cover it? Headlines:

Forbes and Marketwatch aren't bad. The Hill is abyssmal. 6ABC is useless.

You know who gets it? The Washington Post. Today, under the headline, ”Trump's continually strange comments on possibly ‘overrated’ coronavirus testing,“ Aaron Blake writes about the what's left unsaid by Trump's comment: ”If you don't test, you also don't know who might be spreading the disease—nor might you know how to effectively treat someone to avoid the worst outcomes.“ Exactly. And since Trump made similar comments in a conversation with Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA), The Post was actually on top of the story even earlier. Yesterday morning, they ran a piece by Irish Times columnist Fintan O‘Toole whose headline gets at the heart of the problem: ”Covid testing is about saving lives. Trump thinks it’s just about numbers." Quote:

Tests are perfect, in Trump's mind, when they tell you what you want to hear—but not so great when they deliver bad news. They are useful if they lead to an impressive statistic. But if a test is going to produce an unwelcome result, why do it? To other people, it may seem obvious: It's to produce an objective truth about what is happening to Americans. Once we know the scope of the problem in every city and state, we can plan the responses—contain the virus and gradually resume normal life. But for Trump, the purpose of testing is not to establish an objective truth. It is to generate good numbers.


And this is exactly why America's response has been so abysmal. It's why, as of this morning, via Johns Hopkins, we have 1.4 million cases and the country with the second-most, Russia, has 262k. Other countries' numbers are going down precipitously, ours are not. Because we have a president who doesn't want to know. He wants only good numbers. Ironically, by focusing so much on numbers he doesn't like, Trump is actually making those numbers worse. Not to mention our lives.

Oh, as for how The New York Times covered yesterday's speech? They didn't cover it. At all.

Sarah Cooper is doing a better job of covering Trump than The New York Times. 

Posted at 10:57 AM on Friday May 15, 2020 in category Politics  
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Twitter: @ErikLundegaard