S1: This show may contain words that would offend the sensibility of certain habitual ways of monasteries.
S2: It’s Thursday, April 9th, twenty twenty from Slate. It’s the gist. I’m Mike PESCA.
S3: And now we’re all wearing masks.
S4: By all, I mean most actual people I see on the rare occasion I venture outside, but almost none of the people I see on TV. If the movie ratings for it can give a warning for cigarette use, TV, news B rated TV and a mask lessness abounds.
S3: If we photoshop cigarettes off of portraits of Murrow and Robert Johnson when they became stamps, can we photoshop masks on to anyone who’s depicted as unmasked? Is there a Snapchat N95 filter? Because that’d be hot. Masks are a blue state affectation, by the way.
S5: Prophylactic, maybe better than affectation. There a picture of members of the media at arm’s length really to arm’s length from Mitch McConnell, the Senate leader, and his whole staff behind him unmasked. Everyone in the media masked the red-state affectation. Its hydroxy chloroquine to many in the media are not covering this the right way, which is it might work, but it’s too soon to tell. I’ve read so many stories and seen so many stories where the Tonys only fools believe it will work best. Leaven in Vanity Fair wrote Meet the ignorant cranks behind Trump’s Big Hydroxy Clara Quinn. Push subhead A guy Jared Kushner found on Amazon a quack and Rudy Giuliani. What could go wrong? Well, sure, some less than credentialed individuals in the Trump administration are touting it. But then again, what other kind of officials in the Trump administration are you going to find? But this article really made it sound like only a quack would think that it could work. Here’s Washington Post headline. Trump is giving people false hope of corona virus cures. It’s all snake oil. The intercept Trump is talking up drug that increases chance of cardiac arrest or drug that could have some efficacy against Kove at 19.
S3: True, Trump politicizes everything, but too many in the media have taken the bait on this issue. Treating his claim as if there aren’t a lot of doctors actually prescribing it to patients and in some cases getting results is wrong. Obviously we need not get ahead of the science. But Trump is going to the correction isn’t for us to get ahead of the science in the other direction. Those headlines, those stories do that. It is not snake oil. Trump University, that’s educational. Snake oil. Windmills don’t cause cancer. We can say that definitively. He alone can’t solve it. The caravan was not going to invade our country with diseases. But you can’t say that Hydroxy Clara Quinn won’t work. Cauvin cases have a respiratory element. There is oxygenation issues. Maybe it will work with some, maybe it will work with others. Maybe it won’t work at all. Maybe there is an element in it that can be used in other drugs. It is again too early to tell, which is what we should be saying. But if it works, I predict that Trump fans will literally be chanting at Trump rallies. Hydroxy Kluver Quinn Hydroxy Gloria Richaun. I don’t know if that’ll be the meter, but something like that. The chemical formulation will be on red hats. You’ll see that they will say, See, we were right. The media was wrong. It will become a rallying cry and it will not really be fair. It will only be that some in the media got ahead of the facts on the opposite side of Trump. But they did it by instinct and not by science. On the show today, we go to. You won’t believe it. Fargo. Fargo. Rock City. We hear one member of the supposedly straight news media spreading some corona ignorance. But first, I’m joined by Slate’s national correspondent Wil Salant to talk about how the outbreak will affect the race for the presidency. What will Trump’s tiny bump in approval ratings? What that could mean if any of Trump’s mishandling of the virus will be remembered and perhaps not fondly remembered.
S6: And how will it all play among the only voters who matter? Swing state independents tell you it wasn’t the virus that make a great democracy. But here’s Will sanlitun next.
S7: Sal ATAnd covers politics for Slate, and guess what? I work for Slate. I get to talk to him right now. Right here. Hey, well, how you doing? How you doing through all this?
S8: Well, you know, it’s a pandemic.
S7: Yes, exactly. So let’s talk about the other participant in the election. And I would say the participant that will, you know, dictate everything. The Democrats could have nominated almost anyone and we’d probably get the same result. I’m not sure what the result will be, but Donald Trump.
S9: Normally, when there is an incumbent presiding over the economy that Donald Trump will be presiding over, we say no chance at re-election. How might it play out differently this time?
S10: Well, you know, until a month or two ago, it was going to be just the opposite. The economy was amazing. And the test was going to be how big a jerk do you have to be, how vicious, how authoritarian, how offensive do you have to be to lose an election with an economy like that? I was kind of looking forward to that. I was looking forward to, you know, the economy being good, America not getting hurt, but somehow getting rid of this guy. Now it’s going to be difficult for him. I don’t know. I hesitate to predict economic numbers this far in advance. But the latest that I am seeing is projections are the economy is not going to restart at the speed that he expects even after we come back. It’s going to be slow. You know, Trump needed everything to go right. I got to give you a warning, though, Mike.
S8: I have been wrong so many times because I have this idea in my head that I know I shouldn’t have as a political prognosticator, but I can’t get rid of it. And here’s the idea. If this is a terrible thing to happen, it won’t happen. If it’s irrational to elect this guy, president noted states it won’t happen. It does happen. It did happen. So it’s possible that I’m wrong here. But I think that Donald Trump needs everything to go right. And he finally ran into something that is so bad that his manifest incompetence, which shows that it’s not a cause, a catastrophe with it. Now he has a catastrophe. And the only way he gets out of this is if he manages to persuade people that his incompetence and the catastrophe are totally unrelated. Yeah, I think that’s a really difficult sell.
S3: Remember tariffs? Remember John Bolton’s book? Remember impeachment? Remember the strike on Iran? These were all supposed to be things that factored in. Will they at all?
S8: As soon as you mentioned cars, I’m laughing because. Sorry. What’s crazy about the terrorists is even in the midst of this carnage, a thousand two thousand people dying every day. We’re right at the peak of the deaths when Donald Trump gets asked about China and the Corona virus. He’s constantly every time changing the subject to trade to terrorists. All he wants to talk about is how Obama got ripped off by the Chinese. We’re suckers. And he’s going to fix it all. I cannot tell you how crazy it is that while people are dying heat when they change the subject back to tests. So he’s going to be very happy. We get back to talking.
S11: It’s almost like he wants to, you know, slap a 25 percent surcharge on the Corona virus, the molecule itself. That’s his solution.
S12: Totally. It works so well.
S8: And the Hawary I mean, the thing about tariffs is tariffs was sort of the paradigm of an issue where Donald Trump, we just went around the world creating crises. He starts a trade war here. He starts a trade war there. And then he would back down and we would not have a terrible trade war and he would run a victory lap, see seaweed, and then nothing terrible happened. He got away with this for three years. Trade was a classic example of something where he created crises. Then he sort of defused them and nothing terrible happened. He got away with it. And so the Corona virus is just the opposite of that. He’d love to get back to those kinds of debates where he made a lot of drama and nothing terrible ended up happening. But here, terrible things are happening every day. I don’t know how he’s going to get out from under it.
S11: Yeah, I don’t know how there could be any more examples of anything that will convince anyone to change their mind. And yet, if you read, oh, maybe there’s a little bit of a rally round the flag and support the president, a fact. But apparently some people have changed their minds for the better towards Donald Trump during this crisis. Crazy.
S8: Yeah, but you. Yeah, I am totally with the skeptics on this. I mean, after 9/11, George W. Bush was it’s like 90 plus percent approval to George W. Bush was the opposite. A lot of presidents have been very different from Trump. People like them. They were likable, even if you didn’t agree with them. You thought they were wrong about abortion. You thought they were wrong about war or whatever. Trickle down economics. But there was something that people liked about Ronald Reagan and about George W. Bush. So that, you know, when bad things happened, there was a lot of sympathy with Trump beyond his base. There’s very little sympathy. So he has his bumps, such as it is is pretty pathetic, historically pathetic.
S11: But list all the other bumps. I mean, there was George Bush and 9/11. There was Reagan with some of his strikes on Libya. Let’s say I don’t know what what what are some of the other rally round the flag bumps that. We’ve seen that have tend to been overrated, maybe when Osama bin Laden was killed. Any others that come to mind?
S8: Well, I mean, mostly I. When I when my mind runs to this, it runs to foreign crises. Something where we were attacked.
S11: Yes. So my point is that when George W. Bush got on the pile and spoke in a megaphone and then attacked Afghanistan, it was supported wholeheartedly by almost everyone. He was doing the right thing. He was reacting to a crisis correctly. Barack Obama killing Osama bin Laden. He did a good job. Ronald Reagan, I guess, winning wars on small Caribbean islands. Good job. So, yeah, his bump has been smaller, but it’s also a bump after he did a demonstrably bad job in contrast with the other presidents. Yeah.
S8: So 9/11 happens. George W. Bush gets up and says, I’m going to protect America. And then there’s no more terror attacks on America for George W. Bush’s two terms. And that’s considered a huge success. The Republican Party says Bush kept us safe. Everybody says we Bush kept us safe except Donald Trump. Donald Trump runs for President 2015/2016. He’s the one who stands up and says, Bull, you know, Donald, it’s George W. Bush kept us safe after he let 3000 people die. You don’t get to restart the counter after you let 3000 people die. You’re responsible for that. He compared it to a baseball game. He said you’d give up 19 runs in the first inning and then you say, oh, we did great after that. So, you know, if we use Donald Trump’s own standard, then Donald Trump doesn’t get to say, you know, OK, for a couple of months, I didn’t pay attention to this virus. But then, man, if we pump out the ventilators, man, did we get a lot of masks and test out there. That’s pretty much the game he’s playing now, right.
S11: He wants to do just by the way, my if you use Donald Trump’s own standard, Donald Trump gets to say would render him mute for the rest of time on everything. Yeah, but do you think this is the only thing that will matter? Do you think that his handling of this crisis will be? Well, to some extent, our opinions of Trump are priced in. And the people like him, like I mean, the people who don’t don’t. But in terms of when they look back or write the story of this election and this president, it will be corona in the first sentence in the maybe the first word of the first sentence.
S10: Well, every time that I have said that things will be the way they are and that today’s issue will be the one that people vote on or are talking about even a month from now. I have been wrong every time about this guy. What’s different now is that there is this huge factor he can’t control. So unlike the trade, worse where Trump could just flip a switch and the trade war or walk away or do something else, you can’t flip a switch here. So he doesn’t have the same ability to change topics. You know, you can’t make the 2000 people dying go away. But, you know, over time, we do know that from the models that, you know, in a month, in a couple of months, the numbers get down to a point where it becomes a background issue. You have lingering effects from the economy. So you can sort of reject that far out. But if I go to November of this year and ask, you know, is it going to be like this? Is this going to be the only thing people are talking about? My bet is yes. But I’ve been wrong so many times.
S13: I know that. I know I’m with you, but. Right. But say with the Iran strike, there were assumptions built in. Like what? Obviously, one strike that can cost a few dozen Americans is not going to decide the election. But then you think about, OK. It could decide or have a huge impact on the election if there are counter strikes or a war or you just play out the next couple of consequences. Same with impeachment. With this, you don’t have to. You don’t have to. The consequences are upon us is what I’m saying.
S8: Well, yeah. Yeah, that’s true.
S10: And I mean, if I want to make an argument against myself here and say this one will stick, the argument pretty much hinges on the factors that Trump can’t control here. I mean, if you take impeachment, he had a backstop in the Republican control of the Senate. You take most of his mishegoss and it’s him creating it so he can end it. The factors here you’ve got, first of all, the virus itself. I mean, this is what Tony Foushee keeps saying about the virus, yet takes the timeline. You don’t. And that’s something Trump isn’t used to. So we have the virus timeline. It’s going to take a while to wear off. Plus, we have the economic fallout of the virus. We now have unemployment. We have people laid off, supply chains messed up. It’s going to take months to get that back. The stock market may be delayed in getting back. And then third, if Trump tries to shortcut this and say, you know what, I’m going to try to reassert control. I’m going to send everybody back to work. And, you know, and then the Republican governors maybe do that, then we can end up like, you know, Singapore or some of these other countries where China back where they’ve gone back to work and the virus isn’t all gone. The viruses. Thank you very much. I’ll come back now. And so he could get into another cycle. So there’s a lot of ways that this can go wrong in ways that Trump himself can’t control.
S13: Yes. Do you think that the statements that he made, dismissing the virus, talking about it, will be going away by April, saying we have. Cases, but like a miracle, they’re all gonna go away. In the past, he said horrible things, offensive things, unbelievably incorrect things. But one reason they don’t stick. I mean, they stick a little bit. People have an unfavorable opinion of him, but they don’t stick as much as they would with a normal politician is he just keeps saying them. So he dominates the ether. He floods the zone. Pick your analogy. He’s like Mr. Burns, his body, where all the pathogens are fighting each other and he stays alive. Is this an exception? Will those statements in this time really hang around his neck in a way that some of the other things he said that you think would sink him but didn’t fail to?
S8: All right. So I think I should make an argument against myself here, because I have a bad habit of sanguine predictions. I think the argument that this will work out for Trump or could work out for Trump is that eventually the virus will go away. And you can already see him playing on this in some of the White House briefings. The reporters have said to him, sir. You said in February, it’s going to go away. It’ll all go away. And Trump’s response to this and the briefings has been it is going away. It will go away. And bizarrely, he is right. He’s right. If you extend the time frame.
S11: So a lot of game companies. Right. Right. On a micro biology level in that if a virus kills the host, it does go away. Go away telling us.
S12: All right. But but but suppose that what happened here is that, you know, we’ve seen the models that by the end of May.
S10: This is down the end of June, that sort of dissipated. We do manage to sort of let’s let’s say people other than Donald Trump who are incompetent, managed to get out enough, you know, antibody tests and that we should get a containment system set up so that people are able they go back to work and we’re able to isolate cases and do what they what they call containment as opposed to mitigation. Trump doesn’t deserve credit for that. But he’ll take the credit. We all know. And then the economy starts back up. And by November, people are saying read, you know, virus is terrible. You know, it’s not 20 percent off the GDP in the second quarter. And we’re like. But, you know, we’re back on our feet. And it’s morning in America. And the stock market having plummeted back down to below where Obama left it is back up another few thousand points. And people are just like, man, we survived this. You know, Trump got us through it. That’s a plausible scenario if there isn’t a relapse of the virus. And if the economy is moving forward, Trump doesn’t have very much margin to work with. But that may be enough to get him through.
S11: Yeah. You know, just a thought I had. We all know the Electoral College is at best imperfect. At worst, it just skews the will of the people. But think about if there were no electoral college, if it was just a popular vote, how different his responses, America’s responses would be. I mean, for every thousand people who die in New York and it affects the opinions of New Yorkers under the current calculus map, doesn’t matter. We can make up for that with Floridians or Ohioans. But it was just a natural vote. The more people who died and the more people who were affected, just the more people who wouldn’t be voting for Donald Trump again, it would hurt him a lot more.
S10: Yeah. I mean, if you wanted to design a virus to protect Republicans in the elections, you’d sort of pick this one, right? It comes in.
S11: Yeah. Except for the fact that it hurts. Hurts old people.
S10: Yeah. Yeah. But it comes in from China than through Europe. It comes into the cities that have international travel. This the cosmopolitan areas, the blue area, that’s where it starts. And you could see that the Democrats, much more than Republicans were washing their hands more staying away from restaurants, staying away from public gatherings. So you’d think, you know, the Republicans are going to get the virus. No, because the virus seated in these cosmopolitan areas with lots of travel and so are the blue areas. And for that reason, Trump could sort of get away with it for a while. And then it’s not until later in the game. Does it start threatening cities in red areas. Even then, it’s getting cities, right. It’s not threatening Louisiana. It’s threatening New Orleans. It’s threatening downstate New York. Let’s go to Michigan. Right. Michigan is an important state. If a lot of people die in Michigan, that is going to hurt Republicans in the Electoral College where they’re hurting. It’s in Detroit, by and large. So, again, it’s blue areas everywhere, even in the red states. I think Trump is likely to face more damage from what he has said than what he has done in terms of some of these states. I’m thinking of Michigan in particular. Pence calls Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan. Trump like I’m not going to call the woman he insults by name, Michigan. These are the things that politicos really under hurt. They hurt you in an election if you sound like you don’t care about an important state in particular. So he’s going to have a lot of cleanup to do, even if the damage in Detroit isn’t as bad as it might have been.
S13: Will Sal Atten is Slate’s national correspondent. Which means, like you, he hasn’t left his home in three weeks. Thank you so much, wealth.
S14: Thanks, Mike.
S5: And now the spiel, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz. Issued his newest stay at home order, he extended it for some weeks. And this is how it was covered by Fargo, North Dakota. Cavy l.y TV anchor Chris Berg.
S15: Key news tonight. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has extended the stay at home order up unto May 4th. May the force be with you, Minnesota.
S5: Oh. Good meaning, horrific times. Of course, we all misfire with a quip now and again, I am told. Let’s see what the trusted anchor of Fargo’s leading news station has to say about this order issued by the governor.
S15: But right now, with everything going on the world, you should be questioning everything. And I mean everything, including you about the safety right now. That’s the subject of tonight’s point of view. You, me, just two examples tonight of why you need to be questioning everything that you’re seeing right now. Now.
S5: It seems like a weird tack for a newsman to take. Newsmen supposed to have answers, but I’ll hear him out if I have questions about it. Christian said that was OK. And if you have a question, I’m going to answer it. Your question might be, why is Fargo covering Minnesota? Here’s the answer. If you’re unfamiliar with the geography of Fargo hugs the border of Minnesota, good percentage of the viewing audience will be in the Gopher State. So this wasn’t a series of musings for one anchor man in one audience about a different audience. It was directly to the people who were watching in one state and also to the people watching in another state, North Dakota, where their governor is taking far less aggressive action than Walls did. So right off the bat, Chris Berg plays a clip of Governor Walls from March 25th.
S17: If we just let this thing run its course and did nothing. Upwards of 74000 Minnesotans could be killed by this folks.
S15: He just said that seventy four thousand seventy four thousand Minnesotans can be killed. That’s if, you know, Minnesota did nothing clear. They’re doing well.
S5: They did say upwards of 74000. If Minnesota did nothing, which Berg acknowledged what didn’t come to pass, they did something. But then Berg asked.
S15: But here’s my question for you. Is anybody asking them how the world did you come up with 74000? Where did you get that number from? And who determine what that was actually going into?
S7: The model models say, hey, we could lose seventy four thousand seventy four thousand Minnesotans didn’t have to because in that press conference and at other times, while cited modelling from the University of Minnesota and it was a worst case scenario. Granted, Berg does acknowledge all of that. But he goes on to asking the next big question who funds the University of Minnesota?
S15: Who paid for this model that’s creating all this data? That would be you, the taxpayers. By the way, how much should this model cost that’s being created? University of Minnesota. And also, why isn’t Minnesota using the same models or the eye h am in models like the rest of the country is using, including the White House, specially when they’re making executive stay at home order decisions that are really decimating?
S5: How much does the model cost? It’s like the price of a graphic calculator. Right. However much electricity it takes to power a laptop or two, does it does Berg think it’s like a model airplane or a model T Ford? Why is the governor of Minnesota using a model from the University of Minnesota? That’s the big question. Seems kind of obvious to me. So it can focus on Minnesota. And by the way, why aren’t they using the IMH model? Well, if they were, they could find out that the worst case for Minnesota at the time, March 25th, that Berg was talking about was in the thousands. It has since come down. Berg once again returned to the cost of the model.
S15: The problem is, we don’t know you’re the taxpayer paying for this model.
S5: And if taxpayers die of Corona, their estates will be paying for the model, which sounds, I guess, like it’s is fairly expensive model. Does it run on plutonium? You know, if it has an internal combustion engine, it’s pretty cheap given the price of gasoline. To be fair to Berg, he does go on to make the point that we should know what the inputs are and it’s the public’s right to know and mentions that the station has filed a FOI request. Good. I’m all for that. But the pose of just asking questions and the implication of the answers are not forthcoming or might shock you. It’s really not the best use of one’s platform as a local news anchor, for instance. Instead of just asking questions mode, Berg could have brought his viewers answers. They’re out there like this podcast I found within five minutes of sleuthing.
S18: I’m John Finnegan, dean of the U of M School of Public Health. And we thought that since these numbers inform public policy and therefore have a significant impact on our daily lives during this pandemic, that it would be important to explore how this modeling works.
S5: And while the podcast doesn’t exactly lay out the formula, they don’t tell the audience. Now, wait, the suspected are not. Two times in a population center of less than nine hundred people or 2.4 times at a population center of 2000, the park does offer useful information.
S19: Then was given by the lead inquisitor slash anchor man Chris Berg, for instance, this was professor of health policy and management at the U of M Eeva NS, so I wouldn’t be too wedded to specific numbers because those numbers will change and we need the flexibility to be able to revise those estimate and update our understanding of the virus of healthcare context that we live in. That is specific to our country or ideally our state. But in terms of a specific numbers that caution getting too attached to any of them.
S5: It is clear and it’s been all over the coverage. good-faith coverage that is was in the Star Tribune. It was in statements by the public health officials themselves and from walls, his own mouth that the raw numbers were never meant to be precise, were never meant to be immutable. In fact, the purpose isn’t to actually try to put a number on who could die. It’s to note the difference between the number who would die with no mitigation, with some mitigation and with a lot of mitigation because of the inputs are consistent. You could run a decent model that tells you the effect of doing a little a lot or nothing. And so that’s what they did. And that is why Minnesota decided to shut things down in a fairly aggressive way. And it might also be I would venture to say it probably is why Minnesota only has a predicted death toll in the hundreds, not in the thousands now. So later on in this extended segment, 9 minutes on the local news, Berg invited on. A Minnesota doctor is also a state senator, Republican state Senator Scott Jensen, and he discussed guidelines for diagnosing covered 19 on death certificates. Now, here was the example that Jensen used. There was a woman who came to his office who died of pneumonia. Then it was discovered that her son, who she was exposed to, actually had corona virus.
S20: Here’s the description. Sometime after she came down with pneumonia. We learned that she had been exposed to her son, who had no symptoms, but later on was identified with Koven, 19. It would be appropriate to diagnose on the death certificate. Koven, 19.
S21: Berg jumped in. I don’t mean to rub you, but I. My heart is sinking right now. As you’re telling me this. You’re you’re a doctor. Why in the world would they be sending you information to fill out death certificates where the person has been diagnosed with Koven, 19 or not? But then to say on the death certificate, this person’s death was caused by Cauvin 19, that that does not sound right to me.
S16: Well, granted, it would be better if we had enough testing to accurately determined who has it. But the risks of an undercount are under documentation seem to me to be more than the risks of ignoring the very real possibility that covered 19 is the cause of death, especially in this case the cause of death of an elderly patient who developed respiratory problems after being exposed to a known carrier of the Corona virus. As a journalist, I would have asked questions to public health officials or maybe just do some research like I did as a journalist, wherein I might find that the National Vital Statistics System, which is part of the CDC, provided new guidance for death certificates and it said it should list Corona virus if it was assumed to cause or contribute to death and that the state of Minnesota follows the lead of that federal agency. But Berg chose a different tact. You didn’t find those answers and give them to the public, though. It just has more questions to his audience. After first concluding that there was an active campaign of misinformation going on.
S15: But I want to ask you this. Why do you why do you at home think they’re inflating the number of Cova Desh in Minnesota? I’ve been asking a lot of people that question today. Why are they so we’ve also been talking about the same to states, maybe get more federal dollars if they label a death as a COVA death, not because, again, this is an emergency.
S3: Well, I don’t know, Chris. Maybe you should come to your viewers with the answers to this question rather than free floating conspiracies and accusations unmoored to actual facts in a time of tremendous sensitivity, by the way. Are you trying out for Fox News? Just asking questions. Do your personal political leanings have any influence on what you’re communicating to the public again? More questions. Could you be dangerously misinforming the audience with a segment? And also with a tweet about the segment that asks, why is Minnesota inflating covered 19 death numbers? It’s good question, right? And here’s the final question I have. Will there be any consequences for getting your conclusions before you get your facts and pretending it’s all in the guise of a quest for truth?
S22: And that’s it for today’s show, and that’s it for all tomorrows ever more for Prasow lobby. She is leaving us. She was a great though short addition to the just team. By short, I mean, of course, length of service only that she’ll be going to work at another news organization. Can’t disclose exactly which news organization it does rhyme with CNN. Margaret Kelly. She’s here to help. But why did she orchestrate Priscilla’s ouster to ease her way to the justice producing staff? Just asking questions. Daniel Schrader is the justice producer. Did he purposely induce me to say those wacky things at the end of the show to embarrass me? Oh, no, Mike. They’re just colorful. The audience likes them. Is it a campaign to undermine me? Just asking questions. The gist? Did you know that the cavy l.y Fargo Tower was one of the tallest structures in the world and is currently the tallest structure in the Western Hemisphere? Just asking. Did you know you did know that you’re kind of a weirdo. We were desperate to prove. And thanks for listening.