The president’s deeply disturbing battle against reality took a terrifying turn on Wednesday night when he openly disputed the death rate of the coronavirus being reported by the World Health Organization based on nothing but “a hunch.”
Speaking to FOX News’ resident conspiracy peddler Sean Hannity, Trump told him that he thought the 3.4% death rate determined by some of the world’s best scientists at WHO was “a really false number.”
“Now, this is just a hunch, but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this,” said the President, who added that “a lot of people will have this and it’s very mild. They’ll get better very rapidly. They don’t even see a doctor. They don’t even call a doctor. You never hear about those people.”
The president went on to incorrectly refer to the virus as the “corona flu” before deciding that “personally, I think the number is way under 1 percent.”
While he’s right that many people will get the virus and never see a doctor, he did not mention that this is because America’s broken and exploitative for-profit healthcare system has left over 27 million people without coverage or underinsured, meaning that they cannot afford to go see a doctor. Nor did Trump bring up his own administration’s refusal to ensure that a coronavirus vaccine would be affordable for all Americans.
It goes without saying that it is wildly reckless for the president to be publicly disputing the information being reported by one of the world’s leading authorities on disease spread and control. Desperate to avoid anything that could possibly be blamed on him and hurt his political standing in an election year, Donald Trump has decided instead to simply downplay the crisis and pretend that it doesn’t exist, like he does with every crisis, because he knows that his administration’s stunning incompetence has already contributed to the spread of the disease.
One shudders to think about how high that death toll might grow when faced with a pandemic —and what he’s willing to say in order to dodge responsibility.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.