Trump has replaced his rallies with a “daily briefing” on the coronavirus pandemic, and has used them to tout himself, to spread lies, and to spread vile slanders against his two favorite targets, Democrats and the free media. He uses some of America’s finest virologists and epidemiologists, like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah L. Birx, as props. His goal is to win 24-hour news cycles, one at a time.
While those he occasionally allows to speak at these briefings explain the extreme importance of measures like social distancing, vital to saving countless lives, he sets the opposite example. Just look at the picture on the right and tell me if this is adequate social distancing.
So far the media has eaten up this irresponsible daily orgy of self-praise, and has shown the “briefings” (read “campaign rallies”) live, thereby becoming an accomplice in these highly irresponsible displays. Last night, Rachel Maddow pushed back in the most forceful way, detailing some of the falsehoods and irresponsible statements Trump has put forward. There is no better way to watch her do so than to read and click the link on this DKos diary from Egberto Willies. Having seen the true purpose of the “briefings,” it would be catastrophically irresponsible of broadcasters to continue to air these briefings live. As Rachel says, if Trump lapses into the truth, you can always run the tape.
These are unique times, but they have been aptly compared to World War II. As such, it is easy to see how stupid it is to raise false hopes. That is what Trump did on consecutive days when he touted two old malaria drugs, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, untested for use against COVID-19, as the likely cure for the new virus. The estimable Dr. Fauci quickly refuted SOSIC, though rather diplomatically, saying there was no scientific evidence of effectiveness of these compounds for this use, only anecdotal evidence.
What is anecdotal evidence? An illustration will suffice. “Well, my Aunt Mariuccia said it worked for her.” No better than Trump saying, “I’m a smart guy.” Even if he were, that would mean NO EVIDENCE.
As one who specialized in FDA law for two decades of his career, I can attest that for every 100 hopeful drug compounds for a specific use, perhaps one — 1 in 100, maybe less — ever proves out to be safe and effective and makes it to market.
Trump touting these drugs would have been like Franklin Roosevelt going on the radio 30 days after Pearl Harbor and saying “don’t worry, Japan will be defeated in a month and Germany in two months.” Had he done so, Americans would have lost faith in his leadership within a few months and the war might well have been lost. Churchill promised “blood, sweat, toil, and tears,” not magic quick-win that would make Hitler go away; if he had done the latter, his term of office would have been short, and the war might not have been won.
America must reject this snake-oil salesman. The broadcast and cable news networks must reject these phony and partisan briefings, call out the lies therein, and above all refuse to run them live.