At least two of the three Fox & Friends hosts recognized that Donald Trump’s boast that he told “my people” to “slow the testing” of coronavirus was a big mistake but that didn’t stop them from pretending otherwise.
As you probably know, part of the debacle of Donald Trump’s Tulsa rally was his riff on COVID-19 testing.
TRUMP: When you do testing to that extent, you're going to find more people, you're going to find more cases. So, I said to my people, slow the testing down, please.
Team Trump has claimed Dear Leader was joking, though it's pretty obvious he was not. But even if he were, there’s nothing funny about this, given the recent spike in coronavirus cases. It also undermines Trump’s claim to be aggressively fighting the pandemic. But most importantly, the U.S. testing rate is probably still inadequate and, the spike in cases is not due to increased testing.
But Fox & Friends did their best for the Fan-in-Chief. Not only did they all but break out the pompoms for Trump’s rambling, grievance-filled speech to an arena not even half full, but cohost Griff Jenkins, moonlighting from his day job as a “news” correspondent announced that Trump had put Joe Biden “on the defensive, certainly in a big way.”
BILA: So, I thought he was being humorous here. I thought he was making a joke, like "Oh every--" because it's true, the more people that you test and you're going to test a lot of people that are barely symptomatic, and they are going to test positive, and those numbers are going to go up. That's just what's going to happen.
After this show of Trump (or at least Trump-fan viewers) solidarity, Bila acknowledged that the Biden campaign will be able to make hay out of the remarks:
BILA: I thought he was being funny, but at the same time, I immediately said, "Oh, there's the soundbite." That’s exactly what happened because the Biden campaign came back, issued a statement, and said the following: "President Trump just admitted that he’s putting politics ahead of the safety and economic well-being of the American people even as we just recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases in almost two months and 20 million workers remain out of work." Tweet from Biden: "Speed up the testing."
Cohost Pete Hegseth argued that it was Trump’s way of boasting about his awesome handling of the coronavirus pandemic (which most Americans disapprove of).
HEGSETH: Remember when he said that you're going to get so tired of winning -- we're going to win so much that you're going to be tired of winning, right, and you're going to say "Stop winning I don't want to win anymore?" I mean ... he's saying, listen we delivered so much -- but of course, he is telling a story. Whenever they should take him literally, they take him figuratively. Whenever they should take him figuratively they take him literally -- whatever is advantageous to their Trump hatred.
I think another word to sum up the speech is he's sort of fed up, fed up with the way that COVID-19 is characterized by media, fed up by the unwillingness of people to be responsible about opening up and reviving our economy and it came through in that section.
The third cohost, Griff Jenkins, moonlighting from his day job as a correspondent, toed the line, even though he, too, acknowledged the misstep.
JENKINS: Yeah, I kind of sided with Jed here a little bit here. When I heard that soundbite, I thought "that's a bad move, that doesn't seem to make a lot of sense." But you know, really giving it the context as you mentioned, Pete …
And, of course, it’s really the media’s fault.
HEGSETH: Media uses "spike," and it sounds like it’s a spike in hospital cases or deaths. And when you look at the lines, that's not what it is. It is spike in testing and positives, which you are going to have when you test more people. And so he’s making a joke or a setting it in other terms and the media goes nuts. And so, Jed, you were right to identify it, but it's so predictable. It's old, it's the old way of politics. And I think people see through it.
Yeah, we see through it, Hegseth, just not the way you’d like.
You can watch the lickspittles defend what even they know is indefensible below, from the June 21, 2020 Fox & Friends, via Media Matters.
To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Trump was actually trying to get a laugh – he’s so devoid of empathy – it hurts. My suspicion was confirmed by Dr. Fauci who declared that nobody he knew had ever received any such order or even a hint.
Bottom line: the President was lying (again!) when he said he’d “told” his people to slow down the testing.