The world woke up on Friday morning to some stunning news. The President of the United States had been infected the dreaded Coronavirus. There is probably a German word for lots and lots of schadenfreude, and if so that would accurately sum up the general reaction of the corporate press.
Yes, there were some people who straight up wished the president, his wife and others affected at the White House would jut die already, but most responses were more muted, along the lines of “we all hope the best for the first family, but …”
Apparently the chickens had come home to roost for a president who is single-handedly responsible for the deaths of 200,000 Americans, who did nothing, nothing I tell you, to stop the virus. He didn’t ramp up production of PPE, he didn’t build pop-up hospitals in record time, he didn’t stand up testing to the highest levels in the world, he didn’t spearhead a vaccine and therapeutic program known as Operation Warp Speed, and he didn’t sign stimulus bills that allowed Americans to stay safely at home.
Oh wait. He did all of those things and the media telling you he ignored the problem are lying.
So that was the backdrop for the media coverage of Trump’s bout of Chinese virus. A Greek tragedy in which Trump was strangled by his own devices. And that narrative was looking pretty good on Friday when Trump was taken to Walter Reed Medical Center via helicopter, “medivacked” Sanjay Gupta would say over and over on CNN, even though White House reporters say using Marine One for such trips is typical.
By late Saturday and into Sunday we had moved into the phase in which we were assured that the White House and Walter Reed were lying to us about the president’s condition. Evidence that they were lying? Well, the White House always lies, right? No need to do actual reporting. Every positive statement from an actual doctor was dismissed as stroking of the presidential ego. Every snippet from anyone, including White Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that made the situation seem more dire was treated like holy gospel.
Take this tweet from MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, it really says it all.
Trump is such an indefatigable bully, seems like there is real risk here of doctors subsuming their own medical expertise to his orders, which is also what happened to the country and why there are 213,000 Americans dead.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) October 4, 2020
Owing to the fact that Donald Trump has long since broken Hayes’ brain, he simply repeats the lie that 200,000 lives would have been saved if Trump was not president. He can’t prove it, he can’t say what anyone else would have done differently, he can’t talk about how many lives the China travel ban saved. No, it’s orange man bad all the livelong day. And of course the doctors must be lying, but anybody who says anything Hayes doesn’t like must be lying.
But a problem arose amidst all this alleged disinformation from the medical hacks at Walter Reed. See, the problem, and this is a little awkward, was that Trump actually was doing well. He took an SUV ride to thank his supporters outside the hospital to show it. This too was of course a horrible and evil act by the worst president in history. He put Secret Service at risk to for the sake of his own ego! We now know that there was a Plexiglas partition between Trump and the agent and the doctors OK’d the trip, but once the doctors have been smeared as partisan liars it doesn’t matter what they say. See how this works? Now you just have to trust Chris Hayes.
Even the most common and typical bromide of medical press conferences came under harsh attack from the progressive press, note MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow reacting to the doctors saying Trump was a good patient.
“the president has been a phenomenal patient”?
this is absolutely ridiculous.
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) October 5, 2020
Ridiculous! What? Some variation on this is literally what every doctor treating a public figure says. They never say, “This guy, what a pain the ass, worst patient I ever had, so glad he’s leaving now.” But Maddow sees through these supposed pleasantries to the devious truth beneath it. It’s all lies, the president must be on death’s door as his sycophants prop him up like some kind of political “Weekend at Bernie’s.”
On Monday, the media’s weekend of absurd lies about the president came to a crashing halt. Trump arrived at the White House, marched from Marine One to the Truman balcony, stood up straight, whipped off his mask and smiled. Maybe this was CGI or a body double, but it sure looked like the president was feeling pretty good, not about to die, and the three-day media narrative was zipping around deflating like a punctured hot air balloon.
Trump’s entire four years in office have been like this. Baseless claims that turn out to be false, but that are nonetheless piled up to present a mythological mountain of lies from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The only difference this time was how fast the media’s lies fell apart. In so many ways, this past weekend was a microcosm of the disaster so much of our corporate news media has become.
The only thing we can know for certain is that they will draw no lessons from it, and that is a shame. Because there is an important lesson in all of this, namely it is that President Trump has been right all along that most people only have mild symptoms of Covid, something he and his staff have now shown with their recoveries. And that is the outcome that the media feared most of all.