Since the beginning of this pandemic crisis he has evolved, contradicted himself or outright misled the American public on a very large number of very important things. CNN’s Daniel Dale and Tara Subramaniam have done incredible work fact checking his individual statements. Or read Chris Cillizza’s roundup of his entire Sunday press conference.
Ventilators: How many are we short? — Trump has demanded thanks from governors who are urgently warning they don’t have enough ventilators to treat a rush of Covid-19 patients and he’s questioned whether their requests are legitimate. He also on Sunday suggested that “there’s something going on” with hospitals — “maybe worse than hoarding.”
Treatments: What’s coming and what works — He continues to suggest an anti-malarial drugs could hold great promise for people suffering from Covid-19, despite the caution of his top infectious disease expert as well as the FDA. The promotion of off-label uses for drugs has led to disastrous stories of self-medication. (Reminder: Do not eat anything sold to treat aquarium water.) Here’s what’s real: Johnson & Johnson said Monday it hopes to start testing a vaccine by September.
Pay attention anyway
Ignoring what the President says at a time of true national emergency does not make his statements go away. He is the head of government in a time of global pandemic. His petty beefs with governors can have a real world effect on the distribution of federal resources.
The federal system — States have taken the lead closing schools and encouraging social distancing. Virginia’s governor on Monday issued a stay-at-home order that lasts until June 10.
But Trump decides which states will be declared disaster areas. He determines where federal aid goes and how tools like the Defense Production Act will be used. He has the ability to veto any piece of stimulus. He’s in charge of the FDA, the HHS, the DHS, the CDC and every other piece of the federal government involved in responding to this outbreak.
Rising approval — Trump’s spins and obfuscations have worked, to some degree, to his personal advantage since Americans say in polls that they approve of how he’s handling the crisis. A new CNN poll out Monday shows 48% of respondents approve of the government’s handling of the crisis — while 47% don’t.
CNN’s Harry Enten reported on Sunday that Trump is seeing a bump in his personal polling, mostly because of a rise in approval among non-voting adults. “Normally Trump does considerably better among (voting adults) than among (non-votign adults),” Enten wrote. “This gap, however, has disappeared and perhaps even reversed itself to a degree in the most recent round of polling.”
Other bumps — But when I asked CNN’s polling director Jennifer Agiesta for more context on this pandemic bump Trump has seen, she noted it’s interesting to compare Trump’s approval bump to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was never exactly beloved in New York but has seen his approval ratings soar to 87% approval among New Yorkers in a new Siena poll.
Similarly, George W. Bush, who was also not beloved, saw a massive spike — 35 percentage points from 51% to 86% — in approval after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, according to Gallup. Trump’s climb in approval is much more modest, and that may have a lot to do with how divisive he already was, how he’s contradicted people like Dr. Anthony Fauci and picked fights with governors like Cuomo.
Taking credit — Trump actually tried to take some credit for Cuomo’s approval ratings during an interview Monday on Fox News.
“One of the reasons his numbers are high on handling it is because of the federal government. Because we give him ships and we give him ventilators and we give him all of the things that we’re giving him,” Trump told “Fox and Friends.”
Controlling the narrative — Perhaps sensing that opportunity, he’s certainly taken a front-and-center position to take credit for his work even as the Covid-19 outbreak seems to spin out of control.
CNN’s Betsy Klein has compiled the following information on White House coronavirus briefings, which initially were led by Vice President Mike Pence but have become vehicles for Trump in recent days:
Briefings at the White House: 22
Briefings in the White House Briefing Room: 20
Briefings in the Rose Garden: 2
Briefings led by President Trump: 18
Briefings led by Vice President Pence: 4
Average Trump-led briefing length: 73 mins
Average Pence-led briefing length: 40 mins
Longest briefing: 110 minutes
Over the curve in New York — Hospitalizations may finally be slowing down.
‘Medical war zone’ — Read this dispatch from inside a New York hospital.
Help wanted — Cuomo asks out-of-state medical workers to come help in New York.
Covid-19 vigilantes — Armed neighbors may have tried to force a man in Maine to quarantine.
Furloughs — The vast majority of the Macy’s workforce will be laid off for now.