On Thursday, Donald Trump took the idea that ultraviolet light and disinfectants can be used to kill viruses on surfaces and extended that into a theory that COVID-19 can be cured by cleaning people out from the inside. Trump suggested either putting a strong source of UV “inside the body” or injecting disinfectant. The wonder isn’t that Trump had these thoughts—anyone might have had these thoughts. Only in most people that would have come about two seconds before the realization that a needle full of Clorox was a very bad idea. The real marvel here is that Trump is so convinced that any random product of a stray neuron in his weasel-topped pumpkin is so intrinsically unique and valuable that it deserves to be proposed on nationwide TV. Where genuine doctors are forced to not just watch, but respond to the proposal.
Trump’s statement might have come out of whatever field is on the far side of left field, but the response from the White House was perfectly predictable. On Friday morning, freshly appointed White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany is extremely upset that the media would take Trump “out of context” by suggesting that he was giving medical advice while speaking to the American public about a national health crisis.
McEnany, a professional attractive person willing to spout right-wing talking points, is still getting her feet wet in a job that requires her to do … something. Probably. In theory. Though that something doesn’t seem to involve any of the duties that usually apply to her position.
Instead, the former head of an overtly racist blog apparently is on hand to get out the mop and clean up for Trump following his daily spew. According to a statement released on Friday, McEnany claims that Trump “has repeatedly said that Americans should consult with medical doctors regarding coronavirus treatment.” Which apparently means that McEnany wasn’t watching when Trump pushed Americans to take hydroxychloroquine for more than a month, including right up to April 18, despite the fact that Trump had already been informed that the FDA and HHS were ending trials into the effectiveness of the drug because it was killing people.
McEnany did not note that when an actual doctor, Anthony Fauci, spoke up at that press conference to suggest that America needs to step up testing, Trump responded by saying: “I don’t agree with him.” In fact, Trump has been playing doctor at these events for weeks. As The Washington Post reported in March. And doing so repeatedly in ways that are encouraging people to take dangerous, unproven treatments because he has a “hunch” or a “good feeling” about something with zero evidence of effectiveness.
McEnany also wagged a finger at the media by saying that they “irresponsibly take Trump out of context.” Which the media apparently did by running the entire press event in full, and then showing clips depicting the whole sequence of Trump’s proposal to treat the inside of the human body like a kitchen counter top.
It’s a bit telling that as McEnany was pointing at the press, Surgeon General Jerome Adams felt compelled to issue a somewhat different statement.