Monday, March 23, 2020

Coronavirus, trump and press conferences

By now you may have heard that an Arizona man has died after ingesting chloroquine phosphate, a drug that has been approved for the treatment of malaria and that is currently being evaluated as a drug that could possibly be used to treat people infected with the coronavirus.

Trump has twice mentioned chloroquine as a possible treatment even though medical experts both in and out of his administration have said repeatedly that that can't happen anytime soon.

When experts in the field point out that the dangerous and irresponsible things trump is saying are resulting in real harm, his defenders reply that he didn't actually tell anyone to take chloroquine phosphate.

The point is that trump says things he should never say on a daily basis. He often lies outright. It was irresponsible for him to have made those remarks as they could easily give Americans a sense of false hope.

Many Americans are still feeling that the coronavirus pandemic is no big deal. No big deal because -- based on things their president has been saying -- drugs that will make it all okay are right around the corner.

He throws out these little bits of inappropriate optimism because it helps him deflect the criticism that he waited too long to do anything and that he's been minimizing the scope of the problem from the beginning. 

But he has been.

It is true, of course, that there's nothing wrong with having regular press conferences about this urgent matter but the fact is that no other President would ever be using the press conferences the way trump does. 

Press conferences shouldn't look like one of his campaign rallies, they shouldn't be used as opportunities to spread disinformation or half-truths.

They certainly shouldn't be a way to take pot shots at reporters or to deflect criticism.

They should be a way to give accurate information about the crisis we're in and tell us things we need to know.

Why should it be necessary for Dr Fauci to walk back trump's exaggerations and half-truths? How about if he just stops running off at the mouth and saying things an elected official would only say if they were trying to deflect valid criticism or make themselves look good?

Americans who take trump seriously, who think that he knows what he's talking about and that the things he says can be relied on will continue to do things they should not do. 

Things which -- in this case -- could certainly harm or even kill them.

He needs to stop using press conferences about this crisis as a way to silence critics and make Americans think everything is going just fine.

The pressers should be opportunities for the experts who've dedicated their lives to studying this stuff and actually know what they're talking about to do their jobs.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© 2020 Ben Lawrence Basile

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