The Latest Injection of Trump Tweets Won’t Cure His Embarrassment

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As Americans continued to roll their eyes at his comments about injecting disinfectant to kill the coronavirus, President Donald Trump mainlined a fresh dose of misinformation and grievance into his Twitter stream yesterday.

First, he continued to try to relitigate his widely mocked press briefing on last Thursday, claiming his widely mocked suggestions were not directed at Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, but William Bryan, the Department of Homeland Security undersecretary for science and technology.     

Trump did ask Bryan whether UV light could be used to “hit the body” or somehow used “inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way.” But he also addressed Birx directly when he said, “I would like you to speak to the medical doctors to see if there’s any way that you can apply light and heat to cure…Deborah, have you ever heard of that? The heat and the light, relative to certain viruses, yes, but relative to this virus?”

Next, Trump suggested that he’d soured on press briefings because the media “refuses to report the truth of facts accurately.” (By the way, the quotes in the previous paragraph are verbatim from the White House website.) Nearly a month ago, he’d bragged that his daily briefings had made him “a ratings hit.” Now Republicans are worried that his briefings are hurting them politically; one senator told the New York Times “the nightly sessions were so painful he could not bear watching any longer.”

The president, who spent weeks pushing an untested malaria drug as a COVID-19 treatment, then prescribed a dose of “common sense.” (On April 5, he’d touted hydroxychloroquine yet again, saying  “What do I know? I’m not a doctor. I’m not a doctor. But I have common sense.”)

Finally, Trump claimed that the Democrats and media have falsely accused him of calling the coronavirus pandemic “a Hoax.”

Let’s look at the transcript from the president’s rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, on February 28 (italics mine):

So far we have lost nobody to coronavirus in the United States. Nobody. And it doesn’t mean we won’t and we are totally prepared. It doesn’t mean we won’t. But think of it, you hear 35 and 40,000 people [dying from flu] and we’ve lost nobody. You wonder if the press is in hysteria mode… Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. You know that, right? Coronavirus. They’re politicizing it… And this is their new hoax. But you know we did something that’s been pretty amazing. We have 15 people in this massive country and because of the fact that we went early, we went early, we could have had a lot more than that.

If you read that and conclude the president was minimizing the seriousness of an impending public health crisis by accusing the media and Democrats of exaggerating its dangers, perhaps you don’t recognize sarcasm.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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