It’s easy to forget about Ben Carson. As a relatively low key member of the Trump administration, he’s seemed over his head as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and astonishingly slow on the uptake for someone with a brain surgeon’s reputation to live up to.
But perhaps because so many people may have placed themselves under self-quarantine as a result of exposure to the coronavirus at this week’s AIPAC conference attended by so many Trump administration luminaries including the president, vice president, and senate majority leader, among others, there was Ben Carson on ABC‘s This Week speaking with George Stephanopoulos about the COVID-19 coronavirus despite the fact that the medical degree that he hasn’t needed much in his past three years as part of the administration is not in the specialty of infectious diseases.
Thus it wasn’t exactly reassuring when Carson mirrored the Trump line in downplaying the seriousness of the pandemic, likening the coronavirus to your average case of the flu, a comparison that the mortality rates for the two different viruses decidedly defies.
Carson also mirrored the president’s own willful ignorance when Stephanopoulos asked him a perfectly reasonable question about the plans to deal with the 3,500 people soon to be arriving in the port of Oakland, California on the Grand Princess cruise ship with a large number of infected passengers on board. It was not a question that Carson wanted to answer.
“The vice president met with the CEOs of the major cruise ship companies yesterday, and they are coming up with a plan within 72 hours of that meeting,” the HUD Secretary responded.
When Stephanopoulos noted that the ship was scheduled to arrive in port within only 24 hours, Carson’s evasive answer led many to believe that the results of any planning were not only totally unknown to him but may not even exist yet.
“The plan will be in place by that time,” Carson told the ABC host. “But I don’t want to preview the plan right now.”
“Shouldn’t you be able to do that?” a skeptical Stephanopoulos pushed the HUD Secretary.
“I think it needs to all come from a solitary source, we shouldn’t have 16 people saying what the plan is,” Carson replied, in what seemed like an excuse on the level of “the dog ate my homework.”
With Carson just providing another example of the Trump administration’s shambolic response to the encroaching pandemic, it’s truly amazing that anyone in the administration believed that his medical degree would make him an effective spokesperson for the federal government’s efforts to combat the disease.
You can watch a clip of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson’s appearance on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos in the excerpt below.
MORE: Sec. Carson says a plan will be in place "within 72 hours" of Vice Pres. Mike Pence's meeting with cruise ship company CEOs yesterday.@GStephanopoulos: "The ship's docking tomorrow."
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) March 8, 2020
Original reporting by Adia Robinson at ABC News.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.