Bernie Sanders’ Fox News town hall got off to a raucous start this evening when he responded to the first question, “What is your assessment of the Trump administration’s handling of the [coronavirus] outbreak and what would you do differently?”
Not surprisingly, Sanders gave the Trump administration a bad review. “Sadly, we have an administration in Washington that has shown the world that it does not believe in science,” Sanders said. He also touted his Medicare for all and sick leave plans as a way to make sure everybody who needs to, goes to the doctor and stays home when ill, not just for their own sakes, but for the sake of not infecting others.
Then when pressed as to what he’d do differently right now, Sanders laid into Trump.
“I would not be a president saying to the world […] I have a natural ability to understand the problem,” Sanders said.
Cohost Bret Baier sounded reluctant to admit that Trump had said that.
“He doesn’t have a natural ability!” Sanders roared. The crowd cheered.
Sanders continued, “My point is, for a start, as a president, I don't claim if I'm president that I'm the world's greatest scientific expert on climate change or coronavirus. You listen to the scientists. You don't say stupid things. You don't suggest to people that you can go to work. That's not what the science or the doctors –
Baier interrupted, talked over Sanders at that point, and said, “Let’s talk about the economy. The markets dropped – “
Now it was Sanders’ turn to interrupt. “What, we’re not talking about coronavirus anymore?”
There was an exchange between them that I didn’t quite hear before Sanders joked, “I always give this guy a hard time,” (Baier agreed) “Because I remind him he’s on Fox television. He forgot about it.”
It was a charming moment and Sanders got in some great jabs at the Trump administration.
But here’s the thing. Despite the needling, Sanders gave Fox a big, undeserved boost in credibility and prestige. Probably advertising dollars, too. And, I’m sorry, but Democrats need to treat Fox News as an enemy every bit as dangerous as Donald Trump is, no matter how nice any individual host(s) may be. Needling doesn’t cut it, in my book. Sanders should have insisted on finishing his thoughts. The coronavirus is killing Americans and it is obvious that Trump is terrifyingly ill-equipped to handle the crisis.
You can read my more in-depth post about what’s wrong with Democrats doing Fox News town halls here. But for now, you can watch Sanders slam Trump below, from Sanders' March 9, 2020 town hall.
As of this morning, the whole of Italy is on a (partial) lockdown: people, especially the elderly, are urged to avoid leaving their homes; food shops are open and well-stocked; people who can are working from home; those who can’t are urged to take special care after using public transport (wash their hands!); bars must close before happy hour, etc. etc. Essentially, all events that would attract large numbers of people (sports, especially football, theatres, gyms, swimming pools, concert halls, protest marches, etc.) have been postponed or cancelled. The public reaction on balance has been to cooperate rather than flout.
On the down side, the closing of all schools was clearly not suitable for a country like Italy where each and every 14-year old has a scooter: the kids are all over the place, making it impossible to track their contacts. Silly folk who think it’s “cool” to flout the guidelines are increasingly few in a climate of disapproval rather than admiration. The people who “escaped” from Milan before the lockdown are meekly reporting themselves to the local health authorities for monitoring.
Of significant importance to my mind: all the TV channels are in fully emergency coverage mode but the information provided is the same and there’s a constant focus on “why” certain measures are being taken. The main criticism is that drastic measures should have been taken earlier (albeit always admitting that highsight is 20/20). Attempts by certain right-wing politicians to exploit the situation are being slapped down by everybody from the experts to the hosts. Even the journalists on SKY24 Italia are doing an excellent job.