Trump really hates it when reality gets in the way of his fantasies. When Hurricane Dorian was threatening the southeast coast, Trump mistakenly included Alabama in a tweet, and Alabama residents, who had thought they were not in its path, started to panic. NOAA Birmingham, reacting to the panic (they didn’t even know about Trump’s tweet) issued a statement reassuring Alabama residents that Dorian wasn’t coming anywhere near them. Trump saw this not as a safety measure but as an attack on him, and forced NOAA to take it back. He even took a sharpie to an outdated map of Dorian’s path to “prove” he had been right.

Now he’s taking a sharpie to the CDC warnings about the coronavirus. Live updates: Coronavirus fears spook markets as outbreak spreads; Trump calls news conference, accuses media of ‘panicking markets’

As new countries confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths from the virus Wednesday, President Trump on Twitter called for a 6 p.m. news conference with officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others to discuss the spread of the virus. He accused the media of stoking panic on financial markets.

“Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC [sic] (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape!” he tweeted. “I will be having a News Conference at the White House, on this subject, today at 6:00 P.M. CDC representatives, and others, will be there. Thank you!”…

Of course, the only thing the media are reporting (maybe not Fox; I won’t go there) are the warnings issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

The CDC is recommending that people begin to start planning for such an event [pandemic] by taking steps such as asking school systems what their strategy will be to mitigate the spread. For example, schools might consider dividing students into smaller groups or even using internet-based teleschooling, she said. On a larger scale, communities and cities may need to change or postpone mass gatherings, she added.…

But Trump worries, not about the health of our citizens, but about whether the stock market will fall and thus hurt his reelection chances.

The rosy sheen that Trump, [WH economics advisor] Kudlow and other White House officials have tried to express about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak has now collided with reality: The coronavirus is spreading, quickly, to more countries. The death toll is rising, and the outbreak is wreaking havoc on global supply chains.…

Ominously, Kudlow went on to to say the CDC is in sync with the White House:

Kudlow said in an interview “there is no distance” between his position and that of CDC officials, praising the public health response, but said the economic threat to the United States for now has not materialized even if it still could.

even though the CDC is clearly not saying any such thing; they are practicing medicine while the White House is playing politics.

So now it seems Trump is summoning CDC officials to the White House to recite what he tells them to while he stands behind them making sure they stick to his script. This is Dorian all over again, only this time instead of trying to push a false panic, he’s trying to suppress a real one. (There would be a virtue in softening the panic while at the same time encouraging caution, but that’s not Trump’s way.)

Jennifer Rubin put it this way in her morning column: Trump has no clue what to do in a disaster

Mind you, the president is not interested in the science, in the details of addressing the epidemic, in hiring the right people or anything else with which normal presidents would concern themselves. He is interested that the markets are spooked, which could hurt his reelection chances.

Speaker Pelosi issued a statement on Monday that puts the blame squarely where it belongs: on Trump.

“For almost two years, the Trump Administration has left critical positions in charge of managing pandemics at the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security vacant.  His most recent budget called for slashing funding for the Centers for Disease Control, which is on the frontlines of this emergency.  And now, the President is compounding our vulnerabilities by seeking to ransack funds still needed to keep Ebola in check.

“Weeks after the Trump Budget called for slashing the CDC budget during this coronavirus epidemic, this undersized funding request shows an ongoing failure to understand urgent public health needs.  

The only thing the Speaker’s words will do, unfortunately, is make Trump all the more determined to hide the truth. And tonight he will try to force the CDC to lie for him, just as he did with NOAA. It will be interesting to see how that will play out; will health professionals be willing to stand up to the Bully-in-Chief while the BIC is standing beside them on live TV?

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