Trump touts his ‘astounding’ TV ratings, compares his coronavirus press briefings to ‘The Bachelor’

The silver lining for the Trump administration during this coronavirus pandemic: It makes for fabulous television, apparently. A real blockbuster. Must-see TV! Like, we’re talking “The Bachelor” and “Monday Night Football” ratings, according to data cited by the president.

In fact, “numbers are continuing to rise,” Trump tweeted, though he didn’t clarify whether he was referring to the number of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. or viewers of his press conferences.

Here’s his full thread:

Trump was pointing to an article from the New York Times but didn’t mention the primary angle of that story, which focused on whether networks should even air his addresses to the media because of the risk of the president spreading of false or misleading information.

[MarkerWatch]

Trump lashes out at networks, newspapers: All I see is ‘hatred of me’


President Trump
 late Sunday lashed out at much of the media over their coverage of his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, claiming that all he’s seen is “hatred of me.”

“I watch and listen to the Fake News, CNN, MSDNC, ABC, NBC, CBS, some of FOX (desperately & foolishly pleading to be politically correct), the [New York Times], & the [Washington Post], and all I see is hatred of me at any cost,” Trump said on Twitter. 

“Don’t they understand that they are destroying themselves?” he asked. 

Trump has regularly attacked the press since entering the White House, often referring to reporters as “fake news” and the “enemy of the people.” Last week, Trump railed against an NBC reporter, calling him “terrible,” after being asked what he’d say to Americans who are scared. 

His tirade against the group of news outlets came after a day in which several state and federal lawmakers called on the president to use his authority to help health systems being overwhelmed by a surge of patients. 

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said on CNN that states were overpaying for medical equipment and were being forced to compete with each other for much-needed resources. Rather than a competition, it “should have been a coordinated effort by the federal government,” he said. 

“It’s a wild, wild West out there, and indeed [we’re] overpaying for [personal protective equipment] because of that competition,” Pritzker said. 

Trump railed against Pritzker and CNN just hours later, tweeting that they “shouldn’t be blaming the Federal Government for their own shortcomings.”

Pritzker tweeted in response that Trump “wasted precious months when you could’ve taken action to protect Americans & Illinoisans.”

“Get off Twitter & do your job,” Pritzker said. 

Speaking at a White House briefing on Sunday, Trump said that he would reject calls to ramp up production of critical medical supplies through the use of the Defense Production Act.

He said that he’s used the law as a source of leverage in negotiations with companies to persuade them to manufacture equipment, but he contended that it would nationalize industries and that he was not in favor it. The Defense Production Act does not nationalize industry, but it does allow the government to direct private businesses to make certain supplies. “We’re a country not based on nationalizing our business. Call a person over in Venezuela,” Trump told reporters. “How did nationalization of their businesses work out? Not too well.”

[The Hill]

Trump calls for anti-malaria drug to be used ‘immediately’ despite caution from top health expert

Donald Trump has called for an anti-malaria drug to be used to treat the coronavirus “immediately”, despite his top health expert having said that evidence for its effectiveness was so far “anecdotal”.

On Saturday morning the president tweeted: “HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains – Thank You! Hopefully they will BOTH (H works better with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents) be put in use IMMEDIATELY. PEOPLE ARE DYING, MOVE FAST, and GOD BLESS EVERYONE! @US_FDA @SteveFDA @CDCgov​ @DHSgov.”

Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial drug while azithromycin is an antibiotic.

Mr Trump had mentioned hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment on Thursday, before being publicly rebuked by Anthony Fauci, his lead expert in the fight against Covid-19. The coronavirus has infected at least 18,000 people in the US and killed more than 270.

On Thursday the president said: “I do want to say – to me, something so big – the FDA has approved compassionate use for a significant number of patients. We have a drug called chloroquine. A derivation would be hydroxychloroquine, which I hear even better about.

“It’s a common malaria drug. It’s been available, so therefore the safety level we understand very well. It’s been relatively safe. And it showed very encouraging early results. Really encouraging. 

“If we – if this works as well as – hopefully it might. The FDA, which would have taken normally much longer to do under our great Secretary … the head of the FDA has been – Dr Stephen Hahn – he has been fantastic. He got it approved very quickly.  I won’t even tell you how quickly, but let’s put it this way: It’s approved.  And we’re encouraging you to take a look at it. We have ordered a lot of it, and you can too. It’s by prescription.

“It’s a very powerful drug for malaria and also for various forms of very serious arthritis. But we think it has a very serious – a very good impact on what we’re talking about with respect to the virus. So you’ll take a look at that. Then you can coordinate with us. But I think, to me, that’s a game changer.”

But asked about whether the drug was a promising solution, Dr Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a White House news conference on Friday that the “the answer is no”.

He said that “the evidence you’re talking about … is anecdotal evidence”

“It was not done in a controlled clinical trial. So you really can’t make any definitive statement about it.”

Dr Fauci told CNN “there’s no magic drug”.

This is not the first time during the coronavirus crisis that the president has clashed with his health experts. Having repeatedly claimed that a vaccine could be developed within months, Dr Fauci and others were forced to stress that it would take at least a year and perhaps longer than 18 months.

[The Independent]

Trump Attacks ‘Failing’ Michigan Governor After She Hits ‘Mind-Boggling’ Coronavirus Response on MSNBC

President Donald Trump attacked Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Twitter for “failing” to combat the coronavirus in her state after she claimed to have little federal support on MSNBC.

“Failing Michigan Governor must work harder and be much more proactive,” Trump wrote. “We are pushing her to get the job done. I stand with Michigan.”

“But we need the federal government to work. We need respirators and ventilators and personal protection equipment. We need more test kits and the resources to process those test kits in a quick expedited manner,” added the Governor.

When Ruhle asked, “Can you get [the tests] without federal support?” Whitmer responded, “No, no! We need federal support. Like I said, we’re pulling out all of the stops and reaching out to our partners in the private sector and we’re going to do everything we can to supplement but it’s not to the exclusion of federal support. We need the federal government to ramp up and get this done.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Bashes Cuomo For Wanting All States Treated Equally for ‘Chinese Virus’: ‘Keep Politics Out Of It’

President Donald Trump is keeping his fight with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo going, tussling over how to address the coronavirus pandemic.

“Cuomo wants “all states to be treated the same.” But all states aren’t the same,” Trump tweeted, before using a name for the disease critics have slammed as racist. “Some are being hit hard by the Chinese Virus, some are being hit practically not at all. New York is a very big “hotspot”, West Virginia has, thus far, zero cases. Andrew, keep politics out of it….”

Trump’s tweet is a continuation of the swipes he launched on Cuomo after Monday’s teleconference between the president and state governors across the country. Cuomo has repeatedly expressed frustration that the federal government isn’t doing enough to respond to the virus, so Trump accused him of being the one who has to “do more.”

Cuomo fired back by saying “YOU have to do something! You’re supposed to be the President.” He also said he’d be “happy” to do Trump’s job if the president hands control of the Army Corps of Engineers over to him.

[Mediaite]

Trump tweets about coronavirus using term ‘Chinese Virus’

President Donald Trump drew backlash Monday night after posting a tweet using the phrase “Chinese Virus.”

After giving an address Monday afternoon in which he said the country may be headed toward recession and urged social distancing, he later tweeted his confidence in and support for various sectors while including the offensive remark.

“The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus. We will be stronger than ever before!” he wrote.

Many officials, including the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have criticized the phrase as inaccurate and potentially harmful in promoting racist associations between the virus and those from China.

The comments prompted massive backlash from many social media users, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said the tweet was misplacing blame and could put more Asian Americans in danger.

Chinese officials condemned Trump’s comments, saying his tweet smeared China.

“The U.S. should first take care of its own matters,” said Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry.

Trump has previously referred to COVID-19 as a “foreign virus,” and he has also retweeted a supporter who used the term “China Virus.” His newest reference comes days after CDC Director Robert Redfield agreed at a House hearing that it was “absolutely wrong and inappropriate” to use labels like “Chinese coronavirus,” as the virus had expanded beyond China to other parts of the world. There were roughly 3,500 confirmed cases of the illness in the U.S. as of Monday night.

Many others have condemned the practice of identifying the illness by location or ethnicity, including the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, which called on its fellow legislators to “help us prevent hysteria, ignorant attacks, and racist assaults that have been fueled by misinformation pertaining to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19)” by sharing only confirmed and verifiable information.

While some, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., publicly condemned the racism tied to the pandemic, others, such as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., have continued to use the offensive language, pointing to outlets that have used similar wording.

The Asian American Journalists Association released guidelines for responsible reporting in February to curb “fueling xenophobia and racism that have already emerged since the outbreak.”

Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., previously told NBC News that it’s possible that several GOP legislators have continued to use the rhetoric to distract from Trump’s handling of the pandemic. She said it’s likely that officials are using China or Asian Americans as scapegoats “versus actually dealing with the problem at hand.”

Along with the virus’ spread, there has been an increase in racist incidents and discrimination targeting Asian Americans. Two Hmong guests endured harassment and were later barred from staying at first a Super 8 and then a Days Inn in Indiana. In California, an Asian teen was bullied, assaulted and sent to the emergency room over fears surrounding the pandemic.

De Blasio held a media roundtable Wednesday to condemn coronavirus-related discrimination against Asian communities in New York.

“Right now, we’ve seen particularly troubling instances of discrimination directed at Asian communities, particularly in Chinese communities,” he said. “This is unacceptable.”

CORRECTION (March 16, 2020, 11:05 p.m. ET): An earlier version of this article misidentified the U.S.’s primary health protection agency. It is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, not the Center for Disease Control and Protection.

[NBC News]

Trump says he’s ‘strongly considering’ a full pardon for Michael Flynn

President Donald Trump said Sunday he is “strongly considering” a full pardon of his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

It was unclear what sparked Trump’s tweet Sunday, which came amid the coronavirus outbreak. Trump said “it is reported that” the FBI and the Justice Department “lost” records related to Flynn. Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, has accused the FBI of tampering with the interview notes of her client.

The Justice Department and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment about what Trump was referring to.

Although he pleaded guilty in late 2017, admitting he lied to the FBI about conversations during the Trump transition period with Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Flynn has sought to withdraw his guilty plea, alleging FBI misconduct. That has delayed his sentencing hearing, which had been scheduled to take place Feb. 27.

Last month, NBC News reported that the Justice Department had opened an inquiry into the FBI’s interview of Flynn while he briefly served as Trump’s national security adviser.

Attorney General William Barr asked the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, Jeffrey Jensen, to review the matter, people familiar with the inquiry said.

In October, Trump tweeted that Flynn’s prosecution was “a disgrace.” Earlier last year, he asked “why was I not told” about Flynn’s being under investigation sooner “so that I could make a change?”

Barr’s efforts to take a heavier role in matters within the Justice Department that are of personal interest to the president, including the Flynn case and the sentencing of Trump associate Roger Stone, have come under scrutiny in recent months. Barr is set to testify later this month in front of the House Judiciary Committee about his personal involvement in cases relating to allies of the president (it’s unclear whether the coronavirus outbreak will delay the hearing).

Trump’s tweet Sunday comes nearly a month after he granted clemency to a series of people. He commuted the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was serving a lengthy prison term on corruption charges. Trump also pardoned former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was sentenced in 2010 to four years in prison after pleading guilty to felony charges, including tax fraud and lying to White House officials.

[NBC News]

Trump condemns CDC for lack of coronavirus testing, blames Obama

President Donald Trump on Friday criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for being ill-prepared to test for the coronavirus and he blamed former President Barack Obama for the situation.

“For decades the @CDCgov looked at, and studied, its testing system, but did nothing about it. It would always be inadequate and slow for a large scale pandemic, but a pandemic would never happen, they hoped. President Obama made changes that only complicated things further,” he wrote.

In a follow-up tweet, Trump continued his broadside: “Their response to H1N1 Swine flu was a full scale disaster, with thousands dying, and nothing meaningful done to fix the testing problem, until now. The changes have been made and testing will soon happen on a very large scale basis. All Red Tape has been cut, ready to go!”

During the announcement on Friday afternoon that he would be declaring a national emergency, Trump again assigned blame to others.

“No, I don’t take responsibility at all,” he said about the delays. “Because we were given a set of circumstances.”

On Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified at a House hearing that the U.S. has failed to meet the capacity for testing.

“The system is not really geared to what we need right now,” he said. “That is a failing. Let’s admit it.”

Two issues have led to the slow process in testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. One was that the CDC had initially put out narrow guidelines for who could be considered for testing. Those criteria were eventually expanded and so far about 11,000 specimens have been tested, according to the agency. South Korea, on the other hand, has been testing nearly 20,000 people each day for the disease, according to reports.

There were also technical issues with the test kits in which they tested for more than just the coronavirus, and the glitch affected the integrity of the kit.

Trump tweeted Thursday that “Sleepy Joe Biden was in charge of the H1N1 epidemic which killed thousands of people,” and said that “the response was one of the worst on record.”

Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates responded that Trump should focus on fighting the current outbreak instead of “desperately tweeting lies about the Obama-Biden Administration.”

[NBC News]

Reality

From an AP Fact check:

His newfound disdain for the CDC’s actions and his criticisms of Obama and Biden are based on a faulty description of what happened in the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, initially called “swine flu.”

Then, the CDC’s flu surveillance network actually sounded the alarm, spotting two children in California who were the first diagnosed cases of the new flu strain. About two weeks later, the U.S. declared a public health emergency and CDC began releasing anti-flu drugs from the national stockpile to help hospitals get ready. Trump declared a state of emergency Friday, seven weeks after the first U.S. case of COVID-19 was announced.

Testing wasn’t the primary concern then. The huge challenge was finding a vaccine.

The new flu popped up in April, too late to insert into vaccine already being brewed for that fall. Switching strains was scientifically doable but it took months to grow the new flu virus in eggs and extract it to make a second, separate vaccine that didn’t become available until November, when the new flu was waning.

That vaccine delay prompted the CDC and National Institutes of Health to spur research into new ways to make flu vaccine faster, by skipping having to grow the virus in eggs. Today egg-based shots still are most common but there are some faster-to-produce competitors. And NIH is pursuing a universal flu vaccine that one day might cover all strains in one dose, but is still years away.

On the testing front, 2009 does offer a bit of caution. While CDC’s lab test didn’t have the types of problems it has had with COVID-19, the agency did warn that some “rapid” tests that doctors used varied in accuracy. So far there are no rapid tests for COVID-19.

As for thousands dying, it actually turned out that the new H1N1 strain was less deadly than average seasonal flu. But even that comparison is problematic, because regular flu years are deadliest for the elderly while H1N1 was riskiest for younger people.

Trump’s accusation that Obama introduced further complications appears to refer to a false point he has made before.

Food and Drug Administration guidance drafted during the Obama administration called for tighter regulation of so-called laboratory-developed tests, a market traditionally not overseen by the agency. Trump says that step made it more difficult to come out with a coronavirus test. But that guidance never took effect. And if it had, it would not have applied to public health emergencies like the current one.

Trump pushes back on Vanity Fair report he’s ‘melting down’ over coronavirus

President Trump pushed back on a Vanity Fair article Wednesday that reported he is “melting down” over the coronavirus.

The article, published Monday, cites a person close to the administration saying Trump is “definitely melting down over this,” referring to the coronavirus outbreak.

Trump hit back, saying that the magazine “will soon be out of business,” and claiming “their third rate Fake reporters, who make up sources which don’t exist, wrote yet another phony & boring hit piece.”

“The facts are just the opposite,” the president tweeted. “Our team is doing a great job with CoronaVirus!”

The article, written by Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman, says the source close to the administration said the president is afraid journalists are trying to get coronavirus to infect him on Air Force One. The president also asked the Secret Service to set up a program and ban anyone who has a cough on the White House grounds, according to the story.  

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham called the article “100% fake news” on Monday, the day it was published.

“@gabrielsherman did not reach out to me,” she said. “False & sensational writing on this topic is irresponsible. POTUS has spent plenty of time w the press pool – simply ask ur colleagues. Nothing about your little college essay is funny or true & I want a retraction.”

Trump has praised the government’s efforts to contain the virus and send out tests. The president decided against taking a test for the virus after his physician said he didn’t it wasn’t necessary.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal. I would do it. I don’t feel any reason. I feel extremely good. I feel very good, but I guess it’s not a big deal to get tested and it’s something I would do,” Trump told reporters Tuesday.

[The Hill]

Trump Says You Shouldn’t Vote Democrat ‘If You Like Automobiles’

President Donald Trump bizarrely tweeted on Tuesday that Americans shouldn’t vote Democrat if they like “automobiles.”

“If you like automobils, how can you vote for a Democrat who all want to get rid of cars, as quickly as possible, especially if they are powered by gasoline,” he posted. “Remember also, no more than one car per family. I, on the other hand, have new plants being built all over Michigan, Plus!”

After social media users pointed out that he had spelled “automobiles” incorrectly, the president deleted the tweet and posted another with the error fixed.

[Mediaite]

Reality

Trump has long taken credit for an auto industry saved by Barack Obama with his successful bailout, which saved millions of jobs.

1 2 3 100