As the United States’ death toll from coronavirus surpassed 2,000 over the weekend, our reality show president took to Twitter on Sunday to inform everyone he was more popular than ABC’s The Bachelor.
Citing a report from the New York Times, Trump tweeted: “Because the ‘Ratings’ of my News Conferences etc. are so high, ‘Bachelor finale, Monday Night Football type numbers’ according to the @nytimes, the Lamestream Media is going CRAZY. ‘Trump is reaching too many people, we must stop him.’ said one lunatic. See you at 5:00 P.M.!”
Yes, America, our dear leader is more concerned about ratings than acknowledging the rising death toll. And instead of realizing that the viewing numbers for his briefings are indicative of the fear many citizens feel in the face of the pandemic, the president instead interpreted those numbers as a reflection of his own popularity.
In contrast, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading immunologist and head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the same day Trump bragged about his ratings that he expects the U.S. to have “millions” of COVID-19 cases and between 100,000 to 200,000 deaths.
Trump, whose administration previously avoided public press briefings like Americans are trying to avoid coronavirus, has been broadcasting daily briefings from the press room where the president spews lies and misinformation that have left many networks contemplating pulling the plug on broadcasting them. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow recently said on air that she would stop broadcasting the briefings, even though her channel continues to run them. “I would stop putting those briefings on live TV — not out of spite, but because it’s misinformation,” she said.
But misinformation sells, and since he began these briefings, Trump’s approval ratings have risen — showing just how desperate our country is for leadership, even if it’s poor leadership, in this time of crisis. Even so, continuing to give this egomaniac a platform is increasingly dangerous as he reassures Americans that he will lift social distancing restrictions by Easter and touts the unproven efficacy of dangerous drugs against the virus. The president’s lies have left at least one man dead and his wife in critical condition after they ingested anti-malarial drug chloroquine — which is also commonly used in fish tanks — believing it would prevent them from contracting the virus after Trump bragged the drug’s prospects against coronavirus on TV.
“I had [chloroquine] in the house because I used to have koi fish,” the woman who ingested the drug said, adding that she had seen the president talk about it in his briefings. “I saw it sitting on the back shelf and thought, ‘Hey, isn’t that the stuff they’re talking about on TV?'”
This leads to a good rule of thumb for Americans in the midst of a pandemic: Don’t believe everything you read on the internet or see on TV. Unless it’s coming from legitimate medical professionals like Anthony Fauci. Especially don’t believe it if it’s coming from the president or his favorite network, Fox News.