President Trump took to Twitter on Thursday morning in a desperate attempt to continue the damage control over the absolutely damning audio released by journalist Bob Woodward that clearly shows the president admitting that he was downplaying the risks of the coronavirus.
In a truly mind-boggling show of mental gymnastics, the president appears to blame Bob Woodward for not doing anything to prevent coronavirus deaths by keeping the quotes secret from the public, doubling down on his ridiculous assertion that he was simply trying to prevent “panic” from spreading across the nation.
“I wanted to — I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic,” Trump says in the audio. Later on, he adds “It’s also more deadly than your — you know, your, even your strenuous flus.”
Trump asks why journalist who revealed that he had privately acknowledged downplaying coronavirus didn’t do more to save lives https://t.co/ipyUwck0Hr
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) September 10, 2020
It is true that morally reprehensible that Bob Woodward chose to wait until 200,000 people were dead before releasing this audio to the public. If you’ll recall, at the outset of the pandemic, public health officials were begging the nation to take the virus seriously and to adopt social distancing protocols, but President Trump and the right-wing media machine were actively undermining their efforts.
Releasing that audio at that key moment may have helped save countless lives — and even one American life saved would be worth more than whatever sales Woodward, who is already a millionaire, might make from his book.
That being said, it is outrageous and deeply offensive for Donald Trump to try to pass off the blame for the hundreds of thousands of dead Americans on to Bob Woodward when he deliberately — by his own admission — downplayed the severity of the pandemic. There is extensive reporting that shows not only did the Trump administration’s incompetence deplete our stocks of personal protective equipment and ventilators and sabotage early efforts at a nationwide testing regime, they deliberately dragged their feet because the virus was mainly hitting “Democratic areas” at the time.
Ultimately, the blame for all of these deaths lies with the President and with state leaders who failed to take the necessary steps to prevent the spread of the disease, and we must hold them accountable for their actions come November.
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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.