Despite the growing threat of the rapidly-spreading coronavirus, President Donald Trump has taken repeated steps to dismiss the need for widespread drastic action to contain an outbreak in the United States that experts have deemed inevitable.
But how could a President possibly benefit from being cavalier about a pandemic?
The growth of the stock market—however erratic—has been a key talking point in favor of Trump's reelection. But markets are weakening as concern over coronavirus grows. Trump reportedly fears that a drastic reaction to the pandemic would make the markets fall even further, potentially spoiling his boasts about the economy.
To curb that, the Trump administration is requiring medical experts at the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) to clear public statements through Vice President Mike Pence, whom Trump recently appointed as the virus's response director.
Concerns are growing that the Trump administration will deliberately withhold or delay crucial updates regarding the pandemic in order to keep Trump's economic reputation—and subsequently his approval rating—afloat.
Ronald Klain, the Obama-era response director for the 2013-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, warned that this policy is a danger to public health.
I was the WH Ebola Response Coordinator in 2014-15. We never told @CDCgov or @NIH what they could say, or ever cen… https://t.co/6X1czvocwp— Ronald Klain (@Ronald Klain)1582830557.0
The fact that Trump continues to lie about coronavirus is NOT a public health challenge, because anyone who believe… https://t.co/R7yYqlE5LR— Ronald Klain (@Ronald Klain)1582830198.0
Klain stressed that in order to keep the public informed and vigilant against potential Ebola outbreaks, officials were not required to clear their messaging through executive channels.
This administration doesn't seem to hold the same priorities—and that's adding even more concern.
The truth suffers under fascism. Now your health may suffer as well. @realDonaldTrump https://t.co/NrXHrpoyrW— Brian J. Karem (@Brian J. Karem)1582833730.0
This politicization of pandemic response is going to make health officials' jobs that much harder. And why? Because… https://t.co/uXCinWEPwn— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@Holly Figueroa O'Reilly)1582833142.0
Fun fact: The reason the Spanish flu of 1918 is called that is because at the time, the only free press that wasn't… https://t.co/z4allUXeEc— Crowing For Days (@Crowing For Days)1582830039.0
I don't know who needs to hear this, but forbidding health officials and expert scientists from reporting on a glob… https://t.co/v6LkJAJNmJ— Robert Reich (@Robert Reich)1582836350.0
Scientists now have their information about #CoronaVirus filtered through office of a man who believes in gay conve… https://t.co/GOXyFOald9— Christian Christensen (@Christian Christensen)1582840521.0
This headline is enough to make me feel sick. https://t.co/87hMjvACgI— Josh Fox EndFossilFuels (@Josh Fox EndFossilFuels)1582839217.0
"Tighten the White House's control of messaging about the virus" What the hell does that mean? Why can't the expe… https://t.co/nDLLzENepC— Eric Garcia 4 Congress #CA22 (@Eric Garcia 4 Congress #CA22)1582837895.0
This is propaganda masquerading as health policy. https://t.co/C3qUCnvq6G— Jason (@Jason)1582836750.0
For a disturbing look into Trump's attempts to suppress the free press, check out Unmaking the Presidency, available here.