MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2020
Let's take a look at the record: How dumb can our public discourse get?
Our public discourse can get so dumb that the exchange shown below can occur. On yesterday's Meet the Press, NBC's Chuck Todd was speaking with RNC chairperson Ronna McDaniel.
TODD (9/14/20): You just said that the WHO didn’t do enough to warn the world of a pandemic. The president of the United States has admitted that he's purposely downplaying the severity of this virus to not panic the public. So both of your statements can't be true.
MCDANIEL: No, Chuck, he's not. He's saying he's trying not to panic—
TODD: He said that.
MCDANIEL: No, he's saying he wasn't going to create a panic.
Each person spoke in the present tense about a statement made in March. That said, when Todd said that Trump has admitted downplaying the virus to avoid creating a panic, McDaniel quickly responded by saying no, he was trying to avoid a panic!
Last Wednesday, Bob Woodward released the excerpts which have launched a thousand faulty exchanges. Let's back up a bit and say this:
As of early March, Trump was making crazy statements about the virus on a daily basis. This occurred night after night, week after week, for several months.
Narcoleptic "journalists" slept through these nightly press events as the commander expounded and blathered in the craziest possible ways. No statement was dumb enough to rouse them. We'd finally found the "potted plants" of the old Ollie North era.
How much worse did Woodward's excerpts actually make this matter? Trump's statements on February 7 have been taken to show that he always knew, that he knew all along, how bad the situation was.
Given how crazy the gentleman is, we aren't fully sure that's true. But any such discussion has to start with an accurate transcript of the actual comments under review.
WOODWARD (2/7/20): And so what was President Xi saying yesterday?
TRUMP: Oh, we were talking mostly about the virus, and I think he is going to have it in good shape. But you know, it's a very tricky situation.
It's the—it goes— It goes through air, Bob. That's always tougher than the touch. You know, the touch, you don't have to touch things, right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that's how it's passed.
And so that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one.
It's also more deadly than your—you know, your, even your strenuous flus.
You know, people don't realize—we lose 25,000 to 30,000 people a year here. Who would ever think that, right?
WOODWARD: I know. It's much forgotten—
TRUMP: I mean, it's pretty amazing.
WOODWARD: What are you able to do for—
TRUMP: This is more deadly. This is five per— You know, this is five percent versus one percent and less than one percent. You know, so this is deadly stuff.
Speaking with his usual mastery, Trump said the virus "goes through the air." He said "that's always tougher than the touch."
He also seemed to say that the death rate from contracting the virus would be something like five times the death rate from contracting even a "strenuous" flu. (Presumably, that's what he meant.)
Did Trump know what he was talking about when he made those statements? We can't quite answer that.
Was Trump ever asked, in subsequent calls, if he stood by that early "death rate" assessment? Did Woodward ever ask him why he wasn't making such statements in public? Why he seemed to be contradicting that early assessment in his endless public remarks?
We've seen no one ask about Woodward's subsequent follow-up or lack of same. People have asked why Woodward didn't report that first assessment offered by Trump. We've seen no one ask if Woodward ever asked Trump if he stood by his earlier statements.
At any rate, there you see the transcript. You'll note that Trump didn't use the semi-technical term "airborne" about the way the virus spreads. Instead, he offered a somewhat odd contrast between "through the air" versus "the touch."
You'll also note that the commander said that President Xi would have this dangerous virus under control. Is there any chance that he actually believed that assessment at that point? Is it possible that he believed the various crazy things he later said in public?
We've seen no one ask.
For ourselves, we regard the commander in chief as being essentially crazy. Wires are hanging loose in his head, as with other sociopaths.
In the next few days, we'll be looking at the conduct of the American press corps. Have the right questions been asked in the past few days? Were the right questions ever asked as our journalists snored and burbled through those lunatic press events during the past many months?
Given the depth of our tribal divide, we're past the point where good questions would be likely to help. But have the right questions ever been asked? Have they been asked in the past week?
Remember, Trump wasn't trying to avoid a panic—he was trying to avoid a panic! Along with several other things, that's what McDaniel said.
Tomorrow: The transcript from March 19