While president Trump privately knew the Covid virus was “deadly,” he told journalist Bob Woodward that he was being a “cheerleader.” He wanted people to remain calm and confident in their leader. Publicly for months he minimized the danger, calling it a hoax or suggesting it was a Democratic Party ruse or fake news, putting millions of Americans at risk of serious harm.
Even though the knew the virus was “deadly” because it could spread through the air, he mocked people for wearing masks. No doubt many of his followers who take to heart everything he says, unknowingly put their lives in danger. He admitted privately it was “deadly” while saying publicly it was just another flu. As CNN analyst Jamie Gangel said, “it’s a striking contrast to what he was saying publicly.” After he continued to hold indoor public rallies with no social distancing he demonstrated clearly that he did not care about his supporters. He did not even warn those who supported him. Publicly at the time, he said, “I think the virus is going to be fine. We have it very much under control.”
In one interview with Woodward, on March 19, 2020, Trump acknowledged this: “Now it’s not just old people, Bob, but just today, and yesterday some startling facts came out. It’s not just old, older, people, plenty of young people.” This was more than a month before he publicly declared that young people were almost immune. A bald faced lie that put young people at risk. How many parent believed Trump adn let their children walk into danger? Unfortunately millions of American youths believed their president and put their lives at risk without being aware of the real risk. If people are fully informed and then take chances they have assumed the risk and must be responsible for the consequences of their actions. That is very different than where political leaders withhold the truth for their own person political purposes. That is heinous.
In one interview with Trump, Woodward told Trump that he must have pivoted on the virus because what Trump said publicly was so different from what he was saying to him. Trump was too ignorant to take the hint. He responded this way: “To tell you the truth I always wanted to play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.”
First, as we all know, Trump is never shy about creating fear and panic. He does that all the time. He is a sower of panic. That is precisely his specific and clear strategy in the 2020 election campaign. He continuously tries to convince American that there is rioting in the streets and only he can deal with.
Secondly, this wasn’t about panic. Plenty of countries were told the truth by their political leaders, and did so seriously, and fared much better as a result than the United States did. The United States currently has about 190,000 deaths as a result of the pandemic, many other countries where political leaders told them the truth have done much better. As Jamie Gangel of CNN said, “Americans dealt with 9/11, they dealt with Pearl Harbour, they dealt with World War II. To say it was about preventing panic or calming people down is simply outrageous.” Naturally Trump lies to conceal his previous lies. No surprise there.
Another CNN commentator had another interesting comment about Trump’s claim that he was a cheerleader . “He hasn’t been a cheerleader; he’s been a misleader.”
He urged people to storm state legislatures when he knew how dangerous the virus had become.
As Anderson Cooper said, “True political leaders rise to the occasion. Americans can handle the truth.” They must be told the truth, that is the first lesson political leaders taken in managing a health crisis. Exactly that advice was in the Obama playbook that his team assembled for dealing with pandemics that unfortunately Trump tossed in the waste basket as a unnecessary expense. The current big question is whether or not Trump and his administration is telling the whole truth now. I think we know the answer.