The Intercept - April 14, 2020
“The truth remains that the nation’s top health advisers concluded as of Feb. 14 that the U.S. needed to use targeted containment efforts to slow the virus spread,” Lipton added. “Trump then waited until March 16 to announce his support for these measures.”
DONALD TRUMP GRINNED broadly on Monday as he tricked the news networks into broadcasting a taxpayer-funded testimonial to his own leadership, in the form of a video highlight reel of presidential statements on the coronavirus crisis, set to stirring music, unveiled during the president’s 29th daily briefing on the pandemic.
The video, which was riddled with errors and deceptively edited, was apparently intended to rebut a damning report on the front page of Sunday’s New York Times that detailed how slow Trump had been to take the threat posed by the virus seriously. While Trump was obviously pleased by the production — he pointed to the screen with a look of smug triumph at several points — he seemed unaware as it was unspooling in the White House briefing room that it contained a fatal flaw that helped reinforce the central argument of The Times report.
The compilation of clips, selected by the White House social media director, Dan Scavino, attempted to create an alternative history of the first months of the crisis, according to which the American media initially “minimized the risk,” but the president “took decisive action” nonetheless, only to be unfairly maligned by his political opponents, before the nation’s governors came together to sing his praises.
The centerpiece of the video was a timeline of actions by Trump and his administration, highlighting the partial ban on travel from China he ordered on January 31, and his declaration of a national emergency on March 13.
But, as CBS News correspondent Paula Reid pointed out to Trump after the video ended, there was a huge gap in the timeline: It mentioned absolutely no action by him in February and there was, as the Times had noted, a period of “six long weeks” after the travel restrictions until he “finally took aggressive action to confront the danger the nation was facing.”
In fact, the only entry on the video timeline for February — the month Trump held mass campaign rallies and described criticism of his handling of the virus from Democrats as “their new hoax” — was February 6: “CDC Ships First Testing Kits.” The fact that those test kits were defective, a massive failure at a critical moment, seems like an odd thing to brag about.
Well into March, Trump was downplaying the new coronavirus as no more threatening than the flu. ...
Read full report at The Intercept