President Donald Trump doesn’t tell the truth that often and neither does Fox News. Both, however, seem to have come around to the idea that the coronavirus is not only a bad thing but a real thing. It took each a long time to put aside their own political or financial self-interest in an alternative reality where everything was fine and Trump was to thank, but they more or less got there eventually. We obviously have bigger problems to face at the moment than the damage done nightly by Sean Hannity’s Biff-Tannen-does-the-news routine, though the president lying over and over and over again will never not be a grave threat. It is even more of a problem now, during a pandemic, when people are looking for enlightened leadership and where accuracy and straightforwardness can stave off panic, save lives, and inspire confidence.
As we look to the uncertain future that we’re all confronting together, let’s take a moment to memorialize just how far Trump and his media goons have come in the space of a week really. Two videos, one from the Recount and the other from the Washington Post, help hammer home how the president and his network emerged as early coronavirus hoaxers, masquerading as armchair doctors and epidemiologists, to reassure Fox News viewers that the president’s crisp orange-tinted torso was actually a beautiful robe. Again, both Trump and Fox News ultimately got on board and mistakes can be made that we learn from, but, for the record, these early statements weren’t mistakes.
Things are going to move fast over the next weeks and months, and it will often be hard to remember who said what when. It’s already hard to discern a coherent message on the virus, what we should be doing, and how we should act if we do have it. Let’s not forget though that both the president and his favored network lied over and over again about the danger of coronavirus because it served their interests at the time. The Republican Party fell in line, and then, suddenly, the GOP conga line changed direction.
Now, Trump and Fox News are on the self-isolating is patriotic bandwagon, but when the bandwagon stops at the end of this thing, remember that they didn’t help construct it, they tried to destroy it. They said it was a fiction, no different than the flu, a conspiracy pushed by Democrats. Live your life, they said. Days later, that was no longer possible.
For more on the impact of the coronavirus, listen to Wednesday’s What Next.