Over the past few weeks, we here at PFAW have, along with many of you, watched with growing incredulity the ballooning volume of lies, misdirection, and disinformation flowing from the White House during this worldwide health crisis. Donald Trump initially dismissed the danger of the novel coronavirus, or the disease it causes, COVID-19, in the presumptive service of his reelection campaign. After weeks of pure denial didn’t work, his responses grew increasingly erratic, veering from calling for the country to “re-open” by Easter to seeming to actually take the crisis seriously – and everything in between.
It’s impossible to know what position Trump is going to take next on the pandemic. Given the magnitude of the incorrect information and bad behavior coming out of the White House and the Trump administration during this crisis, PFAW will be posting a weekly round-up of the highlights – or, should we say, low-lights. Every week, we’ll collect and post the most important of Trump’s falsehoods and failures about the coronavirus to help us all hold him accountable.
Since a lot has happened since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed on U.S. soil, this week’s post will be a quick overview of some of the worst and most recent missteps. It won’t include everything that’s happened since the crisis first emerged because, frankly, this post would be longer than the full text of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
- Trump has repeatedly fallen back on his favorite weapon during this crisis to motivate his base: Racism, in this case against the Chinese and Asian American communities.
- The White House daily coronavirus briefings have become a showcase for Trump’s allies and corporate executives, irrespective of their knowledge of or relevance to the crisis, demonstrating Trump’s preference for those he perceives as being aligned with his interests over the well-being of the American people.
- Relatedly, the briefings intended to be focused on the pandemic are now also serving as Trump’s only avenue for partisan political rallies to energize his radical base as part of his reelection campaign.
- Disinformation continues to permeate the administration’s messaging, with Trump and his congressional allies, like Mitch McConnell, promoting false claims that the House Democrats pursued pay raises for themselves in the coronavirus stimulus package and that the impeachment inquiry “diverted” Trump’s attention from preparing a health crisis response (despite the fact that an administration’s duty is to address all pressing issues, no matter the number at any given time).
- Rather than work in equal partnership with the state leaders who are so crucial in carrying out the government’s response during any health crisis, Trump argues with them, shares incorrect information, and publicly shames them for asking for federal resources and correcting his falsehoods.
- Trump chose to wait for more than a month to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase emergency production of medical supplies, despite health care experts urging him to do so as early as late January or early February to avoid the impending severe supply shortage.
- Taking advantage of the fact that the public’s attention is focused elsewhere, Trump continues to use the pandemic to advance right-wing and corporate special interests over the good of the country; for example, by rolling back U.S. regulations aimed at curbing the destruction of climate change through weakening fuel economy standards.
Of course, Trump and his administration aren’t the only Republicans spreading misinformation about and taking advantage of the coronavirus. Members of Congress seemingly have sought potential gain through the stock market crash, and as PFAW’s Right Wing Watch continues to track through their own round-ups, far-right figures are also capitalizing on this crisis to spread extreme rhetoric, conspiracy theories, and other lies.
But this weekly update will focus on Trump’s lies and dangerous behavior and actions. Because when it comes to any catastrophe, the buck stops at the top – and Trump has a lot to answer for.