What it said in yesterday's New York Times!


Trump's bogus claims about testing:
Monday afternoon, President Trump and at least one major flunky conducted a press event right there in the famous Rose Garden.

The event was held beneath two signs. Each of the signs said this:
Does America lead the world in testing? To some extent, it all depends on what the meaning of "leads the world in testing" is!

That said, the blatant misstatements came thick and fast as soon as the president and his flunky started speaking. Early on, the commander in chief said this:
TRUMP (5/11/20): This week, the United States will pass 10 million tests conducted—nearly double the number of any other country. We’re testing more people per capita than South Korea, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Sweden, Finland, and many other countries—and, in some cases, combined.


Thanks to the courage of our citizens and our aggressive strategy, hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved. And we have saved—and if you look at on a per-100,000 basis, we’re at the best part of the pack, right on the bottom. Germany and us are leading the world. Germany and the United States are leading the world—lives saved per hundred thousand.
That first passage was technically accurate, but it was grossly misleading. The second passage was simply false, to the extent that anyone knew what Trump was talking about.

Soon, though, up jumped Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health and the day's designated flunky. Giroir's statement wasn't simply grossly misleading. We'd have to score this passage as just blatantly false:
GIROIR: I think it’s clear that America does lead the world in testing. I’ll go through some of the charts that show that we lead quantitatively. I will also suggest that we lead in the diversity of tests, which are very important to establish the testing ecosystem to keep America safe. And clearly, as we’ve said multiple times, no one beats America when it comes to quality.

So let’s start potentially with the next slide.

This may be hard to see, but if you look at the line on top, that’s the total numbers of tests done by the United States. No other country in the world comes close to the total numbers. Again, as the president has said, today we will top over 9 million tests. And if you look at per capita—everyone talks about South Korea being the standard—today, we will have done more than twice the per capita rate of testing that was accomplished in South Korea. No matter how you look at it, America is leading the world in testing.
Plainly, the admiral seemed to say that the United States "is leading the world" in per capita testing. That, of course, is blatantly false—and surely, the admiral knew that.

In yesterday morning's report, we discussed the Washington Post's utterly hapless, front-page attempt to correct these groaning misstatements. Simply put, the Washington Post was overmatched by this stunningly simple task.

The Times did better than the Post—but how much better? Today, let's review what the Times' news report said.

Due to our computer woes, we hadn't seen the Times' report when we posted yesterday. The Times did much better than the Post, but we couldn't truthfully say that the Times did well.

Below, you see the chunk of the Times report which addressed per capita testing. The Times completely outdid the Post, but did it do sufficiently well?
THREE REPORTERS (5/12/20): The new White House policy on masks came as Mr. Trump tried to reinvent his government’s troubled history on testing for the coronavirus, claiming that the United States was “unmatched and unrivaled” in its testing capacity but ignoring the early failures to provide testing that allowed the virus to spread invisibly for months.

Declaring once again that “if somebody wants to be tested right now, they’ll be able to be tested,” Mr. Trump said that his administration was working with states to allow them to conduct 12.9 million tests in May, insisting that the testing ability in the United States compares favorably with other countries.

“We are testing more people per capita than South Korea, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Sweden, Finland and many other countries,” he said, ignoring countries where testing on a per capita basis is higher
, including Germany, Russia, Spain, Canada, Switzerland and at least 20 others, according to statistics compiled by Our World in Data.

Flanked by large posters that proclaimed “America leads the world in testing,” Mr. Trump also declared victory over the pandemic, saying that “we have met the moment and we have prevailed.” Later, under questioning, he revised his comments, saying he only meant to say the country had prevailed on increasing access to testing.
Concerning per capita testing, the Times was able to do what the Post amazingly couldn't. The Times was able to report a basic fact:

At least two dozen other nations have done more testing than the U.S. on a per capita basis.

The Washington Post hadn't even been able to do that! That said, the Times never mentioned Giroir's flagrant, howling misstatement—and in that passage, they seemed to say that Trump had only been claiming that "the United States compares favorably with other countries" (our emphasis).

As the Times noted, the signage said the U.S. "leads the world," not that we "compare favorably." In the matter of per capita testing, that's what the admiral plainly said.

Continuing, the Times seemed to apply soft soap to other flat misstatements:
THREE REPORTERS (continuing directly): But the president’s claim that “we’ve prevailed on testing” was also premature, even by his government’s own standards. Though the United States has ramped up testing from 150,000 tests per day from a month ago to 300,000 per day recently, the current rate still remains far behind the five million daily target he himself set last month.

The president’s claim about testing being available for anyone was also misleading. It is one thing to have enough testing capacity for everyone who is symptomatic or has been in contact with someone who has tested positive, but that is quite different from having enough to provide reassurance to people considering returning to normal life.

The president announced that his administration had begun distributing $11 billion for testing approved by Congress almost six weeks ago and claimed that Germany and the United States were “leading the world in lives saved per 100,000.” That was also an exaggeration.

Germany does have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world, at 9.13 deaths per 100,000 people. The United States, by comparison, has a rate of 24.31 deaths per 100,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That is lower than several other European countries, like Britain, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium and Sweden, but it is also higher than that of Canada, Japan, South Korea, Norway, Iran, Brazil and many others.
By any rational standard, Trump's "claim about testing being available for anyone" wasn't simply "misleading." His claim was flatly false.

Also, as you can see from the Times' own report, his claim about Germany and the United States leading the world wasn't an "exaggeration." It too was flatly false!

Many liberals talk about "lies" in ways they can't hope to support. The Times kept tilting the other way. Can anyone here play this game?

Final point:

Trump has been making wild misstatements at these briefings on a thoroughly regular basis over the past several months. It's amazing to see how permissive the upper-end press corps has been concerning these constant misstatements.

In the Times, Admiral Giroir escaped any mention; Trump was lathered with varieties of soft soap. The Times did outperform the thoroughly hapless Washington Post. But is it possible that we "rational animals" simply weren't built for these tasks?

What permissiveness looks like: At yesterday's Senate hearing, Mitt Romney directly criticized Giroir for what he said on Monday. Romney was willing to name check the admiral, but the Post and the Times were not!


  1. It's disappointing that neither Trump nor the Dems nor the media have directly checked to what degree it's accurate to say that testing is available to anyone who wants a test. As a practical matter, that IS the case where I live. If I call my doctor and tell him I have a cough, he will authorize a test in the drive-thru test site in his parking lot.

    I wonder whether Trump misspoke when he talked about five million tests a day. He probably meant five million tests a month. We are far above that target now, at nine million tests a month and growing.

    1. "I wonder whether Trump misspoke..."

      No way. Trump is just dismissing norms by telling his own truth. Where do you get off thinking Donnie the Great is fallible?

    2. Like when Trump claimed to have saved billions of people in the US (population 328.2 million)?

    3. Exactly @2:42. People do sometimes misspeak. Like when Obama said he had visited 57 states. These misstatements don't mean anything. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpGH02DtIws

    4. What say you now, David, you fascist prick?

      President Donald Trump and members of his coronavirus task force are pushing officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to change how the agency works with states to count coronavirus-related deaths. And they’re pushing for revisions that could lead to far fewer deaths being counted than originally reported, according to five administration officials working on the government’s response to the pandemic.

      Though he has previously publicly attested to the accuracy of the COVID-19 death count, the president in recent weeks has privately raised suspicion about the number of fatalities in the United States, which recently eclipsed 80,000 recorded deaths. In talks with top officials, Trump has suggested that those numbers could have been incorrectly tallied or even inflated by current methodology, two individuals with knowledge of those private comments said

      "Even this far into his term, it is still a bit of a shock to be reminded that the single most potent force for misinforming the American public is the current president of the United States."

    5. mm - I have given up on paying attention to stories based on anonymous sources, especially those that are critical of President Trump. So many of these stories have come to nothing. Let's discuss this matter if and when Trump actually tries to change the counting method to something less accurate.

    6. Thanks for your anecdotal observation about testing availability at your location and referencing the Obama 57 states comment. It is a favorite among your ilk, every time they are called out for the barrage of bs that flows from this administration, which of course you feel most comfortable discarding from your attention.

    7. DinC,

      It's going to be so amusing watching you slowly evolve you position as Team trumpshit starts pushing harder and harder on the death totals.

    8. It is Dr. Birx who is pressuring the CDC. That isn't anonymous. She has said that she doesn't think the totals are being reported fairly and wants them changed.

    9. Obama said he had visited 57 states. That is an example of a misstatement that means nothing. When we are talking about a fatal, highly contagious disease, one wants to be precise. Trump's braggadocio sticks out like a sore thumb, as it is the only thing that he is doing. Romney had an excellent take-down of Trump, where he pointed out that some countries, e.g. South Korea, jumped on testing immediately; the US, on the other hand, led by the dumbest mother-fucker on the face of this plane, was doing nothing/

    10. There is no drive thru testing for active infections for anyone in CA. I called and inquired, it does not exist. David is a total liar.

    11. "David is a total liar."

      World's worst-kept secret.

  2. ma0 ma0 * >>> ,!,

  3. “That, of course, is blatantly false—and surely, the admiral knew that.”

    And that, of course, makes him a liar.

  4. "But is it possible that we "rational animals" simply weren't built for these tasks?"

    Lying has nothing to do with rationality. And yes, all people lie from time to time, for a variety of reasons. But we operate on the basis that most people are telling the truth most of the time.

    It doesn't matter whether Trump is providing accurate information about numbers. The numbers don't matter. What matters is how this pandemic is affecting individuals and our nation.

    We all understand that Trump is just trying to make himself look effective and competent so he can gain reelection. David is happy because he can personally get tested, presumably is safe in his home, and he apparently doesn't know anyone who has died. He will no doubt vote for Trump again. Others are not having David's experience.

    My daughter, the pulmonologist, is putting in 14-hour days and she brings her own face-shield to work because she doesn't know whether one will be provided or not. She cannot get tested without showing symptoms and making a fuss, because there is no one to replace her at her job (she is an essential worker). Fortunately, she is not sick, but I haven't seen her in months because I am in a high risk category and thus do not go out, much less visit my family and grandchildren, because it is not safe. I do not believe Trump has done a good job, no matter how many millions of tests he is now bragging about, and will not be voting for him. I DO know people who have died from the virus and I know people who are sick, and I have lost income because of the change in our society. Trump's lack of empathy bothers me a lot. So, our perspectives vary, but not because of the way the NYTimes discusses Trump's figures.

    1. Dembot, we already established that your alleged daughter - as well as everyone else - can in fact get tested without showing symptoms and making a fuss. I even posted a link for you in the Denver area.

      Why don't you change the record and come up with some other dembottery, my dear?

    2. Mao,
      What's the matter, sweetheart?
      Not enough calling you a dembot zombie repeatedly to make it worth your time?

    3. She works for a health care provider. Why does she have to drive to some other location? It is not easy to get tested if your employer has a vested interest in your continuing to work. I suppose you think she can just zip over to your site during her lunch break? They should be routinely testing medical staff, on site. That's why I "ignored" your false facts.

    4. Dembot, you said she can't get tested. And that is not true: she can. And that's the only irrefutable fact in your whole story.

      What your employer should or shouldn't do is merely an opinion.

    5. Irrefutable fact. LOL.
      Hey, dembot zombie, Bill Barr's the AG. There's no such thing as irrefutable facts anymore. I

    6. I agree with @1:36 His/her daughter should be routinely tested by the medical facility where she works. Abbott has shipped more than 1.7 million of their rapid ID NOW tests to all 50 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico and the Pacific Islands. This test gives positive results in 5 minutes, negative results in 15 minutes. I think the health facility where @1:36's daughter works should provide this test to all their employees. Surely they can afford for her to take 15 minutes out for this vital test.

    7. Meh. I'm sure hospitals have policies on whom to test and when. They won't just test you when you feel like it.

      In any case, dembot's apparent conviction that her hospital's testing policy has something to do with Orange Man Bad is patently absurd. It's no different from hating Orange Man for bad weather.

    8. ma0 ma0 * >>> ,!, ,!,

    9. Poor Orange Man. He found out gaslighting a pandemic, doesn't work like gaslighting the corporate-owned media.
      In Orange Man's defense, Orange Man didn't realize the pandemic wasn't jonesing for a HUGE corporate tax break the way the corporate-owned media did.

    10. Poor Orange man, he's once again found himself on the wrong side of one of those pointy headed so called experts, only this time someone who the American public in general (not the d-bags who constitute his hard core base) know to be authentic, smart and honest. This time the spotlight is shining brightly. And the fool can't extract himself to a golf course or country club as he did one out of three days during his tenure prior to the national tragedy his 2 months of negligence helped augment.

    11. Total bs on the testing. The rapid testing has a very high rate of false negatives, and you can not just get the test, even at a drive thru, you have to be pre screened, and the screening eliminates most people from getting tested. The US continues to lag most of the world in testing, both in quality and rate.

  5. The NY Times blew its budget on the photography department. Thomas Friedman's brains will have to do the hard work of dissent.

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