President Trump went on a veritable interview tour on Wednesday — Sinclair, Gray TV, WSJ, Fox News — and was thoroughly dismissive of the coronavirus threat in at least two of the interviews.
Gray TV’s DC bureau chief Jacqueline Policastro said to Trump, “Coronavirus cases are rising in 22 states, including Oklahoma, where you plan to hold a big rally this week. Aren’t you worried about people getting sick?”
“No,” Trump said, “because if you look, the numbers are very minuscule compared to what it was. It’s dying out. By the way, we’re doing very well in vaccines and therapeutics.” And he went on from there.
Later in the day, in a call with Sean Hannity, Trump delivered “his usual exaggeration about his travel restrictions,” per CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale, and said the US will not have to close again. Then he moved on.
Trump’s quotes reaffirmed what CNN’s WH team wrote earlier in the day: “Trump has largely tuned out the persistent coronavirus contagion — which is causing spikes in new cases across 21 states and daily death tolls that reach into the hundreds — to focus instead on reviving both the economy and his own political prospects.”
This story quoted an admin official close to the coronavirus task force as saying, “They just don’t want to deal with the reality of it. They’re in denial.”
Here’s the reality
Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s viral tweetstorm informed millions of people on Wednesday. So did his numerous live shots on CNN.
Gupta rebutted Trump’s “it’s dying out” claim in an interview with Don Lemon, saying, “It’s not going away, it’s just sort of moved around the country, which was exactly what was expected. It’s not dying away.”
Bolton book bombshells
The NYT, WaPo, WSJ and CNN all published details from John Bolton’s book on Wednesday. There are many, many takeaways… frankly they could fill an entire edition of this newsletter… So I recommend you read the CNN team’s full recap here. But the No. 1 bit of news is that Bolton claims Trump “personally asked his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to help him win the 2020 US presidential election.”Trump allies continue to claim that Bolton revealed classified info; those arguments will be addressed in court. The DOJ filed for a temporary restraining order on Wednesday, so there’s likely to be a hearing by the end of the week. But Wednesday’s leaks demonstrated that the book is already out in the open. ABC’s “World News Tonight” aired an excerpt from Martha Raddatz’s sit-down interview with Bolton, and “GMA” will air another clip on Thursday morning, I’m told…
“Should be executed”
Per WaPo reporter Josh Dawsey’s summary of the book’s highlights/lowlights, Bolton “describes a summer 2019 meeting in New Jersey where Trump says journalists should be jailed so they have to divulge their sources: ‘These people should be executed. They are scumbags,’ Trump said, according to Bolton’s account.”
Trump calls Bolton a “washed up guy”
Oliver Darcy writes: After discussing a few other topics first, Hannity finally got around to asking Trump about Bolton’s book. Trump first responded to Bolton’s allegations by saying that he has been tough on countries like China and Russia. The prez then (predictably) lashed out at his former national security advisor and said he “broke the law” by publishing his tell-all. Characterizing Bolton as a “washed up guy,” Trump said he effectively handed Bolton a favor by giving him a “non-Senate confirmed position.” Soon after, Hannity moved on from the topic…
>> As Yashar Ali pointed out: “What does it say about the president that he keeps hiring all of these people who turn out to be (according to him)incompetent losers, liars, and fraudsters…”
What is the best way to convey all of this?
Oliver Darcy writes: Bolton’s book contains a multitude of explosive allegations. And because the revelations came by way of a flood on Wednesday, versus a steady drip by drip, it’s difficult for news organizations to properly explain each of the stories to their respective audiences. Some news outlets framed their stories around specific angles, like Bolton’s allegation that Trump sought reelection help from China, while other outlets went with more general headlines trying to cram everything under one umbrella.
Personally, I thought the Drudge Report did an excellent job, stacking multiple banner headlines on top of each other with several of the biggest revelations that emerged from the book. Readers skimming the site walked away with a good amount of info in just a few seconds. Compare that to other headlines which required readers to first click on the story and then invest several minutes reading it from top to bottom. It’s important to remember that most people are not on Twitter all day, and laying out key points in bullet-point form — which allows the news to be easier digested — is helpful for those trying to get a grip on this wild news cycle.
Brian Lowry writes: I’ve long thought that the “Don’t buy John Bolton’s book” campaign would be sorely tested if the revelations in it were juicy enough. Reading the early accounts and seeing the stops on his media tour, I’m going to go ahead and give myself one point on my pundit scorecard. While hardly a defense of Bolton, it is worth noting a point made by Tom Nichols — whether anything to which he would have testified could have changed the minds of enough Republican senators to alter the math on impeachment…