Anyone who’s paid attention to Donald Trump’s ego trips labeled as “coronavirus briefings” has noticed Trump pressuring the scientists on the task force to agree with his political sniping or his downgrading of public health on the priority list. And we’ve seen Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, give interviews saying things like, “let’s get real, what do you want me to do?” when asked about Trump’s misinformation.
This week, Trump is explicitly putting the economy over public health—as if that’s even possible—repeatedly insisting (sometimes in all caps) that “we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.” The Washington Post offers a truly scary look at how that’s happening as Trump sidelines United States Department of Health and Human Services officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while relying on his know-it-all son-in-law Jared Kushner and a fleet of self-interested Wall Street types.
“’Trump, at his core, is a businessman,’ said one Republican frequently in touch with the White House,” The Post reports, “explaining that when pulled between two competing poles—those of the medical professionals and some within the business community—the president will almost always come down on the side of the latter.”
Even “some within the business community” realize that this could be a disaster. As one Republican donor told The Post, “If Trump tries to restart the economy too soon and the pandemic continues to spread, that will be his legacy and it will be a legacy of failure.” And I’ll keep saying it: “Restarting the economy” could destroy it as surely as leaving things closed, with the health care system (which accounts for more than 17% of the U.S. economy) overwhelmed and broken, millions of people left in medical debt after coronavirus, and waves of panic and business closings as the disease spreads.
But this is a White House that sees Donald Trump as the center of everything, rather than prioritizing public health or the good of the country.
“Other officials,” The Post reports, “are growing annoyed with Fauci in part because he is no longer getting advance approval for his media interviews, which they sometimes view as intended to promote his own personal brand rather than the president, a senior administration official said.”
They want Fauci to promote not public health or accurate information about the pandemic but “the president.” That tells you what’s going on behind the scenes in this White House.