Donald Trump pretended he never ignored a series of warnings about the coronavirus pandemic and pretended he never publicly downplayed the threat during his Fox News town hall today – and “straight news” host Bill Hemmer played Trump’s willing accomplice.
The Washington Post reported last week that the Trump administration was warned by U.S intelligence agencies about the threat of the coronavirus pandemic as early as January 3. The New York Times went back further, noting officials at the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, as well as the National Security Council, were “aware of the potential for a respiratory virus outbreak originating in China to spread quickly to the United States and overwhelm the nation” in October 2019.
Trump, of course, downplayed the threat until mid-March. Travel restrictions to and from China were made effective February 2. On that day, Trump told Sean Hannity, “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”
But, as expected, Hemmer put sycophancy over journalism or holding Trump accountable for his negligence. Instead, Hemmer feigned objectivity while he refrained from asking Trump when he learned of the coronavirus threat. Instead, Hemmer asked, “When was the moment that you thought we gotta move on this?”
Even then, Trump lied and got a pass.
TRUMP: Well, I think when I started seeing and reading about China and seeing what was going on in China, Wuhan, specifically. It seemed to come mostly out of there, that area, the province. And when I saw that and I saw the kind of death they were – you know, talking about on television, on, in the papers and on – I started reading a lot about it and really when I had to make a decision, do I stop people from China and specifically that area but from China, to come into the country and everybody was against it, almost everybody I would say was just absolutely against it. We’ve never done it before, we never made a decision like that.
Hemmer made a show of pressing for more - while avoiding the pesky topics of Trump's claim to have "pretty much shut down" the outbreak on February 2 or the unheeded warnings. The result? Trump boasted that he made “a great decision” based on his “instinct" and attacked his critics, without challenge from Hemmer.
HEMMER: Did somebody come to you with a bit of information, a piece of data? Was it a world leader? Was it a member of your own team? What was it?
TRUMP: It was instinct. We had a large group of people right behind me in the Oval Office and I made it – I consulted with Mike [Pence] but we made a decision. I made a decision to close off to China. That was weeks early and, honestly, I took a lot of heat. Sleepy Joe Biden said it’s xenophobic. I don’t know if he knows what that means but that’s OK. He said it’s racist, what I did. Thousands and thousands of more people – probably tens of thousands would be dead right now if I didn’t make that decision. And I must say, doctors – nobody wanted to make that decision at the time. It was very, very early. Call it luck or call it talent, it doesn’t matter, we made a great decision. I took a lot of heat from China, they weren’t happy with it. Now they understand it. They’ve really – you know, we’re doing just fine. But they were not happy with it.
At the end of that self-serving BS, Trump had skated away from the thorny issue of what did he know and when did he know about this serious threat to American lives and welfare.
You can watch Hemmer enable Trump’s charade below, from the March 24, 2020 Fox News town hall.
Equally disturbing is Trump threatening Gov Cuomo. If Cuomo doesn’t kiss his butt he’s threatening to withhold aid. Further, he quoted a right-wing conspiracy nut on Gateway Pundit falsely accusing Cuomo of failing to order 16,000 ventilators when he had the chance.