FOX News and coronavirus
This week, President Donald Trump seemed to finally grasp the threat that the coronavirus poses to the United States
Perhaps he will soon recognize the threat of the novel virus to the world and seek to lead a worldwide response to the coronavirus.
But that seems up to Fox News and Tucker Carlson, Trump’s source for all his coronavirus information.
How did we ever end up here?
In early January, immunologists and pandemic experts knew that the coronavirus spread could not be prevented and that the virus would come to America. But the president, and his lemmings at the Republican Party, refused to listen to the experts because they were, well, experts.
The Republican Party has long decried the phoniness of experts (think climate change), the knowledge of educators (liberal mind-molders) and the experience of science (think vaccinations).
But even if the president and his Republican allies could have, just for a moment, set aside their distrust of knowledge and truth, there was no action they could have taken after years of arguing the government is filled with lying deep-staters who could accomplish nothing, and were disloyal to Trump.
The Trump administration, and years of Republican shrills had little doubt that no one needed government, or pandemic planners.
So, they fired, demoted, humiliated, undermined and mocked the U.S. intelligence agencies, the FBI, the Justice Department, the courts and the media.
They tried to cut funding to the Centers for Disease Control, they shrank the pandemic response team by reducing its staff and absorbing its independence into another function of the NSA.
So, with the help and support of Trump TV at Fox News, the president and the Republican Party did what they do best, called the coronavirus a Democratic hoax to undermine the Trump presidency. Some Republicans still advance that argument and the Trump Republican base remains unconvinced that the coronavirus is anything but the flu, as evidenced by polling that reports only 40 percent of Republicans view the coronavirus as threatening.
And the president argued the coronavirus was “under control,” that it would “magically disappear,” and that he personally was doing a “wonderful” job leading the U.S. response. All this rhetoric while failing to take the necessary actions to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Something had gone wrong, something very important, something that required presidential action, but that was ignored. The U.S. has no national health system, unlike most counties on the planet.
Instead, we have a splintered, complex private for-profit health system, so our response to a health crisis is always custom-made.
In this case, the CDC worked to develop a testing kit of the coronavirus, but the kit did not work effectively. Time was passing, no one was being tested.
At this point, the U.S. could have purchased hundreds of thousands of test kids from the World Health Organization (WHO) but elected not to do so. More time passed with no test kits.
Private hospitals, research labs and specialty companies in the industry all sought to develop and produce test kits, but FDA regulations held them back until Feb. 28. Six to eight weeks of testing in the early stages were lost when all that was needed was a presidential ruling that the FDA regulations could be set aside in the interest of public health. Trump could have given his approval at any time sooner and our response would have been stronger.
During this time the president told us, “anyone who wants a test can have a test,” a patently false statement, designed as little more than to conceal from the public the truth.
All that has now changed, as this week President Trump has embraced government, experts, knowledge and, for a moment, the truth.
Why? White House insiders report that Trump watched Tucker Carlson on Fox report that the coronavirus was real and dangerous. Trump believed Carlson and changed his attitude overnight.
So, as a nation we are safer today because Trump trusts Tucker.
Feeling better yet?
Jim Crawford is a retired educator, political enthusiast and award-winning columnist living here in the Tri-State.