Donald Trump is okay with losing access to his campaign rallies because he has something better: a live national perch to lie, obfuscate, and misinform America every single day. The list of daily atrocities is long, and I’ll leave it to others to catalogue some of them. But I want to focus on just part of Friday’s conference.
Trump just said that you should get tested if you're sneezing. Sneezing is not a symptom of coronavirus. https://t.co/vfW8nvzArJ
— Kombiz Lavasany (@kombiz) March 20, 2020
The full exchange is here. But the tweet above summarizes it well. (I used that one, also, because I love the chart detailing symptoms. That can’t be shared enough with the public.)
In short, Trump said people who needed to get tested can get tested (false), and that a symptom of the coronavirus is sneezing and sniffling (wrong).
One is a lie. The other is just your basic Trump ignorance.
No, people can’t get tested if they need it—not by a long shot. And no, sniffling and sneezing aren’t symptoms of the virus.
Both the lie and the ignorance are f*#king dangerous. So why the hell are the news networks still airing this shit live? When Trump has anyone else speak, it is to lavish praise on Dear Leader for all the “bold” and “decisive” actions he’s taking (which usually amounts to “closing the border”). There’s the racist “Chinese virus” bullshit, which not even his speechwriter wants to engage in:
Close up of President @realDonaldTrump notes is seen where he crossed out "Corona" and replaced it with "Chinese" Virus as he speaks with his coronavirus task force today at the White House. #trump #trumpnotes pic.twitter.com/kVw9yrPPeJ
— Jabin Botsford (@jabinbotsford) March 19, 2020
The networks need to stop airing this trash immediately. They can cover it with their cameras. If anything actually helpful and newsworthy emerges, they can run the clips.
But in the alternative, if they insist on being irresponsible by helping Trump spread dangerous misinformation, Democrats should offer counterprogramming. The networks are running coronavirus news 24/7. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gets wide coverage, showing even local-ish news is valuable to them to fill network airspace. So give it to them. Jen Hayden had a great idea:
Joe Biden should hold a press conference today with doctors and nurses who cannot get the supplies and tests they need.
— Jennifer Hayden (@Scout_Finch) March 20, 2020
It doesn’t have to be Biden. Any number of senators, like Elizabeth Warren, Chris Murphy, Brian Schatz, Kirsten Gillibrand, etc, can emcee a stream of experts to talk about the inadequacy of the federal government’s response (while properly modeling social distancing). They can talk about equipment shortages, the importance of sheltering in place, shortages in consumer staples like toilet paper and hand sanitizer, best practices to stay safe, WHERE ARE THE F*#KING TESTS, stuff like that.
But the current status quo, where Trump and his toadies mislead the American people while sharing dangerous and racist information, is untenable and has to stop.
One more point: yes, current approval ratings don’t matter. The coming death rates and economic collapse attributed to Trump’s malfeasance and gross incompetence will do more to impact Trump’s approval ratings than any Democratic counterprogramming today. But by disseminating accurate information, Democrats can better brand themselves as the party of reality, solutions, and competence. It’s not enough to just wait for calamity and then point fingers, as accurate as that would be.