By Jon Dougherty @TheNatSent
(TNS) The Washington Press Corps is continuing to play its “gotcha” game with the Trump administration during now-daily coronavirus briefings, and Tuesday’s session was no different.
The administration’s top infectious disease experts — Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx — swatted down insinuations that President Donald Trump’s “delayed” response to the outbreak was because he didn’t take the virus seriously.
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Rather, they tried to explain, few people outside of China were aware of the dangerous nature of COVID-19 because Beijing’s Communist government was covering it up.
One of the usual media suspects — CNN’s Jim Acosta — led the badgering, which was typical since practically every correspondent and host of the network’s various prime-time news programs have consistently blamed this president and his government for the spread of coronavirus, though there is plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise.
After Fauci, who is head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, noted that current coronavirus models predict that between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans could die before the outbreak dwindles, along came Acosta with a predictable query: Would there have been fewer deaths if only the Bad Orange Man had done something sooner?
At that, Fauci noted that mitigation efforts could not have been put in place any sooner because there wasn’t anyone in the administration who was aware of the severity of the virus and the real extent of its spread in China because Beijing was hiding the details — which itÂ continues to do.
The good Dr. Fauci cannot be any clearer than he was: ‘We didn’t see the virus showing up in our country so that’s why we didn’t do mitigation earlier.’
“[I]f there was no virus in the background, there was nothing to mitigate,â€ he said. â€œIf there was virus there that we didnâ€™t know about, then the answer to your question is probably yes.â€
â€œNow the only trouble with that is that whenever you come out and say something like that, it always becomes almost a sound bite that gets taken out of context.â€
Acosta pressed that we were seeing disease in South Korea, Italy, elsewhere — the inference being that Trump didn’t take that seriously and did nothing to prepare.
â€œIn a perfect world, it would have been nice to know what was going onâ€ in China. “We didnâ€™t, but I believe Jim, that we, we acted very, very early in that,â€ Fauci replied.
Later, Birx, who was appointed to the federal government as the U.S. Global Aids Coordinator by former President Obama, she repeated Fauci’s statement that China was hiding virus data all along.
“[W]hen you talk about could we have known something different. I think â€¦ when you look at the China data originally and you said, oh, well thereâ€™s 80 million people or 20 million people in Wuhan and 80 million people in Hebei, and they come up with a number of 50,000 [infected], you start thinking of this more like SARS than you do this kind of global pandemic,â€ she said.
“I mean, Iâ€™ll just be frank â€¦ I think the medical community interpreted the Chinese data as that this was serious but smaller than anyone expected because I think probably we were missing a significant amount of the data.â€
So — how many times does it need to be said thatÂ China is ultimately responsible for the virus’s creation and its spread?
Having said that, of course, our national health and intelligence communities were monitoring the situation in China and beyond. An outbreak is not only a potential health catastrophe, but it can also become a monumental national security issue, and in fact it has, considering the ongoing outbreak of virus on one of the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carriers, the USS Theodore Roosevelt.
But these kinds of ‘gotcha’ questions are not helpful to the ongoing situation at all unless your only objective as a media organization is to pin every ounce of blame on President Trump for purely political reasons.
All Acosta is doing is playing to the base human emotion of ‘let’s find someone to blame for our misfortunate, our inconvenience, the disruption to our lives.’ And of course, as usual. the Bad Orange Man is the primary target.
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Meanwhile, Americans watching the spectacle continue to learn absolutelyÂ nothing about what really matters to them now, such as when this will likely end, how much more can we do to protect ourselves, and where are we on a treatment?
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