The same day that Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response coordinator, slammed exaggerated reporting on the potential fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump took aim at the left-leaning mainstream media, describing them as “the dominant force” behind keeping America “closed as long as possible.” The media’s driving motive, Trump suggested, is about politics, not protecting people.
“I think the numbers that have been put out there are actually very frightening to people,” Dr. Birx said during a press conference on Wednesday. “But I can tell you if you go back and look at Wuhan and Hubei and all of these provinces, when they talk about 60,000 people being infected, even if you said, alright, well there’s asymptomatics and all of that, so you get to 600,000 people out of 80 million. That is nowhere close to the numbers that you see people putting out there. I think it has frightened the American people.”
In a social media post Wednesday, Trump, who has been increasingly signaling that he wants to begin to reopen the economy sooner rather than later, attributed political motivations to the media’s “frightening” tactics.
“The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success,” he wrote. “The real people want to get back to work ASAP. We will be stronger than ever before!”
The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success. The real people want to get back to work ASAP. We will be stronger than ever before!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 25, 2020
While Birx didn’t particularly call out the mainstream media in her comments Wednesday, she did make a point of generally debunking alarming claims circulating online and on television, which have included such claims as MSNBC’s Chris Hayes warning that the coronavirus could kill 1% of the U.S. population, or some 3.3 million people.
“When you got to those projections that said like in Germany and others that implied that 60% or 50% of the population would get infected, I want to be very clear, the only way that happens, is that this virus remains continuously moving through populations in this cycle, in the fall cycle and another cycle. That’s through three cycles with nothing being done,” said Birx. “We are dealing with cycle ‘A’ right now, not one that could come in the Fall of 2020 and that we’re getting prepared for by the innovations that are being worked on, and not 2021 [cycle]. We’re really dealing with the here and now while we are planning for the future. And I think the numbers that have been put out there are actually very frightening to people.”
“I think on a model you just run full out, you can get to those numbers if you have 0 controls and you do nothing,” Dr. Birx said later. “And we know that every American is doing something and so I think what our job right now is, is to carefully detail on a hospital by hospital, state by state, county by county to outline what the infrastructure needs are and ensure that we are meeting them, both from the stockpile and from the generosity and movement of the American people.”
While Trump has certainly worked in attacks on his critics and political opponents in recent days, he’s spent far more time pushing out a message of hope and progress. Ahead of his “LameStream Media” post, he reported on the encouraging developments in testing in the U.S.
“Just reported that the United States has done far more ‘testing’ than any other nation, by far!” he wrote. “In fact, over an eight day span, the United States now does more testing than what South Korea (which has been a very successful tester) does over an eight week span. Great job!”
“The four hospitals that we (FEMA) are building in NYC at the Javits Convention Center are moving along very well, ahead of schedule. Many additional ventilators also delivered. Good conversation with Governor Cuomo!” he wrote in another post.
Trump’s biggest focus over the last week has been getting the massive $2.2 trillion stimulus bill passed by Congress so that struggling Americans will have some economic relief amid widespread lockdowns. After Democrats blocked it Sunday evening, the U.S. Senate finally passed the bill Wednesday night by unanimous vote. Trump quickly took to Twitter to celebrate the win for Americans. “96-0 in the United States Senate. Congratulations AMERICA!” he wrote.