With the coronavirus pandemic worsening by the day, President Trump is demonstrating that not only does he have no ability to lead the country through this crisis, he has no genuine desire to do so. Rather than rising above the partisan fray to focus on saving American lives, Trump is thrashing about for someone else to blame. It now appears that he’s landed on a scapegoat.
During an appearance on Fox News today, Trump took aim at Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), a man who by any honest assessment is working around the clock and doing a great job of serving his state during this impossible time. Trump slammed him for “complaining” that New York needs more ventilators and smeared the governor personally by saying he “should’ve ordered the ventilators.”
New York has become the epicenter for COVID-19 in the United States, and the state is struggling to provide hospitals with the necessary medical supplies and devices as the number of cases rapidly climbs. The federal government has a responsibility to step in here and help, but under Trump’s guidance, the response has been sluggish at best.
Incredibly, Trump also accused Cuomo of setting up “death panels,” a thoroughly debunked fever dream right-wing conspiracy that was popular during the Obama years. Under normal circumstances, such a vile lie would be inexcusable but under the current state of affairs, it’s actively dangerous. Now more than ever we need our government officials relaying the truth to our citizenry, not spreading misinformation.
As some on Twitter were quick to point out, Trump seemed to be quoting a fake news article with the headline “NY. Gov. Cuomo Rejected Buying Recommended 16,000 ventilators in 2015 for Pandemic, Established Death Panels and Lottery Instead.
I'm pretty sure Trump just quoted this Gateway Pundit tweet verbatim in his Fox News Town Hall, which is absofuckinglutely terrifying. pic.twitter.com/RHLP6bqqPj
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) March 24, 2020
The president’s remarks are shameful for a few crucial reasons. The first is that our leader obviously shouldn’t be focused on dishing out blame while the pandemic is still escalating. Doing so distracts from the critical task of cooperating with state and local officials to stem the spread and save lives.
The fact that Trump literally brought a printout of an article from the right-wing hack publication The Gateway Pundit on air to support his case against Cuomo only makes things all the more embarrassing.
The second major problem with Trump’s narrative pinning the onus of responsibility on Cuomo is that the president himself has terribly mismanaged this outbreak since the beginning. He’s the one who fired the government’s emergency pandemic response team and he’s the one who described the coronavirus as a “Democratic hoax.” His efforts to downplay the risk allowed the virus to spread uncombatted and likely led directly to the infection and deaths of countless Americans.
It has been a month since this tweet. https://t.co/19C5oY2YSg
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 24, 2020
Trump’s fanatical supporters might be willing to overlook those facts, but most people see how poorly Trump has handled this pandemic and realize the blame for the federal government’s disastrous response belongs squarely at his feet. Leaders like Cuomo deserve our support during this outbreak. Leaders like Trump deserve our condemnation until they start taking their duties seriously.
Trump says Cuomo was "complaining" about "the ventilators." He says, "He should've ordered the ventilators." (Cuomo says New York has a critical shortage of ventilators, needs thousands more.)
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) March 24, 2020
Trump just read out a headline from the very bad website Gateway Pundit claiming Cuomo established "death panels" instead of buying ventilators.
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) March 24, 2020
Holy shit. Trump just accused Cuomo of establishing "death panels" – an insane, debunked, bullshit Fox News conspiracy theory – AT THE SAME TIME HE'S LITERALLY TRYING TO GET PEOPLE BACK ONTO THE STREETS AMID A PANDEMIC WHICH WILL COST THOUSANDS OF LIVES.pic.twitter.com/VDJme5hZFP
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) March 24, 2020