As real health experts urge Americans to stay home and away from crowds to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic, totally unqualified Rep. Devin Nunes and Fox News host Maria Bartiromo urged Fox viewers to do just the opposite.’
Yesterday, infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared on all the Sunday talk shows and warned Americans there’s a need to hunker down even more than we are. “I would like to see a dramatic diminution of the personal interaction that we see in restaurants and in bars,” Fauci said. “Whatever it takes to do that, that’s what I’d like to see.”
On Fox News Sunday, Fauci spoke of the need for “rather stringent mitigation and containment, without necessarily complete lock-down.”
But Bartiromo and Nunes didn’t let Fauci get in the way of their downplaying the seriousness of the public health crisis that Trump has bungled. Nunes is the ranking member of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee but his background is in agriculture, not public health or infectious disease. That is, when he’s not suing everyone who’s mean to him or playing Trump lapdog. Bartiromo’s expertise is business and slobbering over Trump and Trumpism.
There’s no doubt what Bartiromo was looking for when she asked Nunes to “give us your take on the administration's response to coronavirus.”
Perhaps even Nunes couldn’t come out and praise Trump’s handling of the pandemic. But that didn’t stop him from playing an expert on TV:
NUNES: Well most importantly, I think what American people have to understand is we need to stop panicking here, OK? There's no shortage of food in this country. People don't need to go to the store and fight over a bottle of water or toilet paper. … The main thing that people need to focus on -- it's just a couple of issues. Number one, if you're sick, at all, be smart. Stay away from people. Number two, if you know someone that is senior, or if you have an underlying health condition, especially with your lungs, you are at high risk. … There is no reason, Maria, for the American people to be running to the grocery store, to buy 27 packs of toilet paper. OK? There's no shortage of toilet paper, no shortage of food, OK? And that's coming from someone who -- we want you to buy food, OK?
FACT CHECK: The government recommends that everyone have a two-week supply of water and food. Second, I don’t know if Nunes has been to a grocery store recently but shelves are empty. Whatever the larger picture is, there is a shortage of what's available to shoppers.
How did Bartiromo respond? By giggling and saying, “Right, I understand.”
But Nunes had more dangerous advice – with Bartiromo’s blessing:
NUNES: I will just say, one of the things you can do -- if you're healthy, you and your family, it's a great time to just go out, go to a local restaurant --
NUNES: Likely you can get in easily.
While she was at it, Bartiromo held up Nunes as an epidemiology expert – as she blatantly exploited tragedy to ratchet up ethnic animosity: “Why is it that so many of these diseases, these sicknesses originate in China?” Bartiromo asked.
Ironically, Nunes blamed China’s “downplaying” the seriousness of the illness.
Bartiromo, of course, agreed.
That same day, as USA Today reported, the governor of California, Nunes’ home state, “called for the closure of all bars, wine bars, breweries, and pubs, and called for restaurants to reduce their occupancy by half.”
You can watch Nunes and Bartiromo recklessly ignore Fauci’s recommendations below, from the March 15, 2020 Sunday Morning Futures, via Media Matters.
(H/T Reader Eric Jefferson)
Yeah, I saw the Nunes rehab. I did a post about it earlier, ICYMI.
Bemused, thanks for the laugh.
Kevin: regardless of what’s being said on CNN, there’s been precious little panic buying in Italy. I put that down both to competent messaging and to the fact that Italians have the bidet which helps reduce TP usage. The fact that English-speaking media are focusing on TP shortages is a great source of amusement over here, where the focus is on pasta and rice.
There is one correct point he made, however. He made a mess of the statement, but I do agree with his point. Which is that it’s a ridiculous idea to run to the grocery store and do panic shopping. Having a couple weeks of food and supplies at your home is not the same thing as filling your cart with a pallet of toilet paper or frantically emptying the shelves of soup or crackers and hoarding those items.
My local supermarket has regularly been slammed by panicked locals frantically grabbing food and items that they don’t actually need for even a month – they’re over-purchasing in a way that would suggest that they think they’ll be locked behind their doors for the next year. Which is ridiculous.
The shortages we are seeing, the empty shelves at the grocery stores, are based on the panic buying, not on a lack of supply. My local supermarket is being restocked on a daily and weekly basis and the panickers are continuing to raid it. I believe that behavior will tail off over the next week and that we’ll see the stores come back to some normalcy. But people really need to calm down about this.
I have no doubt but that the foxies and Nunes will make a right about face and act as though they’d not been denying reality right up to the last minute.
Brings to mind that scene in Orwell’s “1984”, where it’s Hate Week and a speaker is riling up the crowd against Eurasia, the enemy that Oceania had always been at war with. As he is speaking, he learns that the enemy is actually Eastasia and switches smoothly, without hesitation, to that version. Literally mid-sentence. The Ministry of Truth spends the next week on overdrive to ensure that every bit of “history” reflects the change.