2020-05-04 04:50:41 UTC
As the 16th president stared down at the 45th presidents socially distant town
hall, Trump rolled out a series of astounding falsehoods.
Even by President Donald Trumps historically low standards, the town hall on
reopening the nations economy featured some astounding falsehoods on Sunday
night: that he was never warned about the novel coronavirus until late January;
that all 43,000 people who returned to the United States from China after the
implementation of his travel ban were tested; that the American people will have
a vaccine by Christmas.
But perhaps the biggest demonstrable lie told under the unblinking eyes of
Abraham Lincoln was Trumps repeated insistence that, despite the mounting death
toll from the coronavirus pandemic and the collapsing national economy, its
all working out.
I think its all working out. You know, the numbers are heading in the right
direction, Trump said, in response to a question about workers at meat
processing plants being forced back on the job despite fears of spreading the
virus. Its all working out. Its all working out. Its horrible that we have
to go through it, but its all working out.
The town hallbilled by Fox News as America Together: Returning to Work and
broadcast live from the memorial built to honor a president who, earlier this
weekend, Trump said did less for black people than he haswas in many ways a
highlight reel of the presidents inadequate response to a pandemic that has
claimed more than 68,000 lives, including a record 2,909 just on Thursday.
The president casually announced that the final death toll could reach 100,000
people, more than 50 percent higher than he told Americans only a few weeks ago.
He made scientifically dubious claims about the speed and availability of a
potential vaccinethrowing in a vow to be AIDS-free within eight years. And he
saved his most emotional answer for a question from a New Jersey guidance
counselor who asked him to please let go of those behaviors and
characteristics that do not serve you when dealing with the press.
Trumps response to that request, as best as it can be distilled, included a
rambling list of supposed accomplishments unrelated to the pandemic, including
increased military spending and the formation of the Space Force, as well as
the assertion that not even Lincoln ever faced such mistreatment while in
I am greeted with a hostile press the likes of which no president has ever
seen. The closest would be that gentleman right up there, Trump said, nodding
at Daniel Chester Frenchs statue of the 16th president in the temple where, as
Royal Cortissozs epitaph states, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined
They always said Lincoln, nobody got treated worse than Lincoln, Trump said.
I believe I am treated worse.
In the days since Trump meanderingly suggested that Americans might be able to
cure themselves of COVID-19 by injecting either sunlight or disinfectant into
their bodies, the White House has attempted to shift the focus of its
coronavirus response from public health to an economic message.
But as question after question came in from across the country about the
specifics of Trumps response to a pandemic that has effectively shuttered the
national economy, Trump primarily responded with boasts about past
accomplishments, mini-tirades about past grievances, or generalities about how
the nation will win bigger than weve ever won before once the crisis abates.
Youre gonna get a job where youre gonna get more money, frankly, Trump told
a single mom in Alabama who said she was facing eviction and struggled to pay
even the smallest bills. Ive got a great feel for this stuff.
I want em to go back, yeah, I want to get our country back, Trump said, in
response to a pair of questions from a teacher and student about his plan to
reopen the nations schools. We have to go back. We have to go back. And,
whatever it is.
Every desired answer, from a timeline for opening restaurants at full capacity
to filling sports stadiums and college graduations, was predicated on Trumps
enthusiastic prediction that we are going to have a vaccine by the end of this
The doctors would say, Well, you shouldnt say that. Ill say what I think,
Trump said, doubling down on a vaccine development schedule that would surpass
even the most hysterically optimistic timelines put forward by epidemiologists
for the rollout of a potential vaccine. I think were going to have a vaccine
much sooner than later Look, a vaccine has never gone like its gone now.
At one point, Trump marveled at the changes in everyday life as a result of the
pandemic, noting the yawning distance between himself and Fox News anchors Bret
Baier and Martha MacCallum. But that distance, while effective at halting the
spread of the deadly coronavirus, did little to stop the spread of another
pandemic: what World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom
Ghebreyesus has called an infodemic.
Were not just fighting an epidemic; were fighting an infodemic, Ghebreyesus
told the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 15, the same day as Trumps
third-to-last all-day visit to one of his golf clubs. Fake news spreads faster
and more easily than this virus, and is just as dangerous.