Criminal Negligence: Donald Trump and Fox News are a public health menace


In his most reckless and irresponsible action to date, Donald Trump went on his propaganda network Fox News aka Trump TV for a Fox News Town Hall, and argued that “we’ve given this coronavirus two weeks” at the end of this month — as if an edict from “Dear Leader” has anything to do with the progression of a viral contagion — and said he is willing to give mitigation efforts a little more time. Then Trump said “I would love to have the country opened up and raring to go” by Easter, so he can see church pews packed with parishioners on Easter Sunday — all the better to spread the coronavirus!

The Washington Post reports, Trump wants U.S. economy ‘opened up and raring to go’ by Easter:

President Trump on Tuesday said he hopes the nation’s dramatic response to the coronavirus pandemic will be scaled back within weeks to revive the economy and pack churches by Easter Sunday — an aspiration that was largely panned by public health experts and many elected leaders, including Republicans.

“I would love to have the country opened up and raring to go,” Trump said during a Fox News town hall broadcast from the White House Rose Garden. The holiday falls on April 12.

“Our people are full of vim and vigor and energy. They don’t want to be locked into a house or an apartment or some space,” Trump said. “It’s not for our country, and we are not built that way.”

The president’s push to restart the faltering U.S. economy goes against the advice of experts who continued to warn the current restrictions might need to stay in place for months to avert a tidal wave of American deaths.

See, Why Trump’s goal to end social distancing by Easter is so dangerous: “Epidemiological models … indicate that coronavirus cases will rise if social distancing measures are relaxed, potentially causing hundreds of thousands if not millions of deaths in the US alone.”

See also,Trump wants the economy ‘raring to go’ by Easter. Economists reject that idea: The idea is drawing quick rejection from some economists. “As you read various arguments floating around that perhaps we should ease public health restrictions to help the economy, I want you to notice that IN NO CASE ARE THESE ARGUMENTS BEING MADE BY ACTUAL ECONOMISTS,” Justin Wolfers, a University of Michigan economics professor, tweeted on Tuesday. The economists seem to agree with public health experts that the best cure for the economy is treating the COVID-19 disease first. The faster the health crisis ends, the sooner the nation can get back to work, which means a shallower and shorter recession, without the risk of viral rebound that sends the nation back into a panic.

His views also clashed with medical workers alarmed at the prospect of overwhelmed emergency rooms, governors who have ordered more than 100 million Americans to stay home, some members of his own party and world leaders who have pursued ever-more-aggressive measures to slow the trajectory of the pandemic.

Echoing Fox News personalities this week that the “cure is worse than the disease”:

Trump on Tuesday expressed concern that the ongoing push for social distancing and the widespread closure of businesses was causing unbearable damage to the once-thriving U.S. economy.

“You can destroy a country this way, by closing it down,” Trump said during the Fox News program broadcast from the Rose Garden, comparing the current outbreak to other factors that kill Americans each year. “We lose thousands and thousands of people a year to the flu, but we don’t turn the country off. We lose much more than that to automobile accidents. We don’t call the automobile companies and say, ‘Stop making automobiles.’ ”

So what number of preventable American deaths is acceptable “collateral damage” to this sociopath? A half-million? A million? Two million? Americans want to know. Give us your bottom-line number.

[T]he president returned to the rosiest of scenarios, saying the country was “beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

This is completely detached from reality! Scientist believe the coronavirus infection rate, due to the lack of testing and tracing, is on an exponentially upward trend that may not reach its apex until early May, maybe.

And he returned once more to his desire to see the U.S. economy somehow resurrected in time for Easter.

Seriously? A resurrection metaphor? That’s why he randomly chose Easter?

“I think that would be a great thing for our country,” Trump said. “We’re all working very hard to make that a reality. Easter is a very special day for a lot of reasons. What a great timeline that would be.”

Trump’s urge to begin lifting some of the public health guidelines the government endorsed barely a week ago has provoked pushback, including among some political allies.

“There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what’s necessary to stop the virus,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) wrote on Twitter.

Scott Gottlieb, the Trump administration’s Food and Drug Administration commissioner from 2017 to 2019, said it would be impossible to return to a stable economy amid a deepening epidemic.

“So long as covid-19 spreads uncontrolled, older people will die in historic numbers, middle-aged folks doomed to prolonged ICU stays to fight for their lives, hospitals will be overwhelmed, and most Americans terrified to leave homes, eat out, take the subway, or go to the park,” he wrote in a Twitter thread late Monday.

Gottlieb rejected the sentiment from Trump and some conservatives that financial ruin wrought by the pandemic would prove more devastating to Americans than the toll of the virus.

“There are two ways to end this,” he wrote. “Let a vast swath of people catch [covid-19] which is unthinkable, or break the epidemic. We must choose the latter.”

In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) became the latest leader from Trump’s own party to affirm that saving lives must take priority over returning the U.S. economy to full force.

“Protecting people and protecting the economy are not mutually exclusive,” DeWine said during his daily briefing on Ohio’s response to the coronavirus. “The fact is, we save our economy by first saving lives. And we have to do it in that order.”

Fox News personalities disagree, and Trump is parroting their inane talking points. Fox’s Brit Hume says it’s an “entirely reasonable viewpoint” to expect that grandparents would be willing to die to protect the economy: “You know, we don’t shut down the economy to save every single life that’s threatened by a wide-spread disease. We just don’t.” Sean Hannity suggests a crashing economy could cause more deaths from suicide than deaths caused by coronavirus: “But you can’t have a cure that is worse than the problem. In other words, this isn’t — this is now in and of itself a problem, we have to open up at some point.” Glenn Beck says older Americans should return to work: “Even if we all get sick, I would rather die than kill the country”: ” I would rather have my children stay home and all of us who are over 50 go in and keep this economy going and working, even if we all get sick, I would rather die than kill the country. ‘Cause it’s not the economy that’s dying, it’s the country.”

You first mother fucker!

The Fox News whipsaw on coronavirus: In another swerve, hosts push Trump to abandon shutdown:

Early this week, the cable network’s most prominent figures began urging the president to ditch the restrictions and get people back to work, even if doing so risks the public’s health.

The commentary dovetails with, and may even have encouraged, Trump’s expressing a desire for businesses to start reopening after the federal government’s 15-day, stay-at-home period ends on Monday. Trump made his intentions clear Tuesday during a town-hall style interview on Fox, saying he wants to have the country “opened” by Easter — April 12.

In short, Fox News’ coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic is medically inaccurate, malevolently racist, and motivated by politics.

Donald Trump and Fox News are a public health menace. And spare me that “First Amendment” free speech bullshit. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. noted, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

Donald Trump and Fox News are spewing dangerous falsehoods and misinformation that have already resulted in unnecessary deaths and is going lead to many, many more deaths. This is criminal negligence on a grand scale and must stop.

As Eric Levitz says, No, Trump Can’t Revive the Economy Through Human Sacrifice (snippet):

The American right’s budding consensus on coronavirus policy is absurd in a similar — if more sociopathic — respect: Trumpists are eagerly endorsing the moral permissibility of reviving the economy through mass manslaughter, even as they evince little interest in the question of whether such a policy would even work.

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Many (though, blessedly, not all) conservative commentators, policy wonks, and politicians — including the president himself — have spent the past 48 hours announcing their willingness to trade the lives of their core constituents for green arrows on their stock tickers, despite lacking any coherent argument for why this would work.

Ryan Broderick adds, Donald Trump Is Trying To Figure Out How Many Americans He Needs To Sacrifice To Keep The Economy Going (excerpts):

Joining the president, a growing chorus of American television pundits, business leaders, tech investors, cryptocurrency enthusiasts, and right-wing influencers have decided to convince the American people that possibly dying from the coronavirus is a small price to pay for economic health.

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The wave of economy-first, public safety–second messaging isn’t just happening on the president’s Twitter feed and his favorite news channel. Right-wing influencers and the new class of coronavirus influencers — typically men who work in the tech or finance sectors and use charts and Medium posts to play amateur epidemiologists — have, too, fallen in line with the president.

“If given the choice between dying and plunging the country I love into a Great Depression, I’d happily die,” right-wing radio host and Federalist contributor Jesse Kelly tweeted.

Please proceed!

The Federalist, a right-wing news site, and its writers have been especially vocal about ending mitigation measures for the sake of the economy. The site has published twodifferent articles arguing that a depression would be worse than stopping the coronavirus.

“It seems harsh to ask whether the nation might be better off letting a few hundred thousand people die,” Jonathan Ashbach argued on Tuesday. “Yet honestly facing reality is not callous, and refusing even to consider whether the present response constitutes an even greater evil than the one it intends to mitigate would be cowardly.”

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Following Trump’s Fox News town hall Tuesday, the hashtag #NotDyingForWallStreet started trending on Twitter. “24 years ago, I gladly volunteered to give my life for this country if necessary to defend the Constitution,” one user wrote. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to be chosen as a human sacrifice by a man who spits on the Constitution daily to satisfy the god of American greed.”

 #DieForTheDow also began to trend on Twitter.

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The personality cult of Donald Trump has now become a Jim Jones People’s Temple death cult. “Our time is up. Don’t be afraid, Don’t be afraid. It’s just stepping over to the other side. That’s all it is. Let’s show the world the only peace left for us is in death.”  Just drink the kool-aid grandma and grandpa. It’s been nice knowin’ ya.

As Matt Lewis observes, The Party of Life Embraces Trump’s Death Cult:

In the last 24 hours, it has become clear that, despite warnings from experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, Donald Trump is willing to sacrifice lives to try and save the economy and his chances for re-election. 

The amazing thing is that some of his prominent supporters are starting to say the silent part out loud. Consider the comments of Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who, a few days ago, said “We don’t shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways. It’s a risk we accept so we can move about. We don’t shut down our economies because tens of thousands of people die from the common flu.”

In other words, we take inherent risks all the time. Why should a global pandemic be any different?

Johnson went on to add that “getting coronavirus is not a death sentence except for maybe no more than 3.4 percent of our population, (and) I think probably far less.”

When I signed up to be a columnist, I was told there’d be no math. Still, I’m pretty sure Johnson just said he was comfortable with millions of Americans dying of coronavirus—so long as it doesn’t disrupt economic activity.

Even if you accept that those millions of deaths, and the burden placed on our hospitals leading up to them, wouldn’t disrupt economic activity, is this the rhetoric of a man who believes that every life is precious? Is this the rhetoric of a man who believes in the dignity of human life? It sure doesn’t sound like it to me.

Trump echoed this ends-justify-the-means logic Monday night and the ghoulish and utilitarian worldview that defines one death as a tragedy, 100,000 as a statistic.

This logic is spreading among Republicans. Consider the comments Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made Monday night on Fox News: “No one reached out to me and said ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’ And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.”

He went on to add, “I feel like as the president said, the mortality rate is so low, do we have to shut down the whole country for this? I think we can get back to work.”

Patrick might be willing to be collateral damage, but I’m not sure everyone over the age of 70 will be so eager to sacrifice their lives on the altar of the stock market—nor am I sure their loved ones would approve of a government willing to sacrifice the lives of our most weak and vulnerable for (I suppose) the greater good of the fatherland.

These are, after all, our moms and dads, aunts and uncles, friends, and grandparents he’s talking about. But I guess you’ve got to break a few eggs to make an omelet. Maybe the old and the weak should make room so that the young and virile can thrive?

This is a weird turn of events for the [so-called] party of life.

Look, I get the need for economic activity, and it’s fair to suggest that economic considerations (which, let’s be honest, can and do impact our health), should be part of the discussion.

Unfortunately, we have skipped over that nuanced discussion and gone straight to Republicans rationalizing the idea that we can just wipe out a million or so people to fix the economy.

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Ultimately, we have a political party that has shown its true colors. Look no further than its standard-bearer. Consider his selfish motivations and petty behavior. Consider his long-held worldview that sees some people as genetic winners and some people as losers.

This is a man who responded to a pandemic by thinking, “How can I be on TV more?” It’s truly depraved.

If human life and GDP become mutually exclusive for a pandemic-stricken America, which one do you think he’s going to choose? I think we already know the answer to that one.