Live Blog below (still doing it only because Trump says stupid stuff)
5:00* PM EDT ( expect delays — yesterday’s presser started at 6:15pm)
The White House
So many possible press questions, so little time. Unfortunately there will be WHO follow-up to further the diversion.
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) April 15, 2020
— Kremlin Annex (@KremlinAnnex) April 15, 2020
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) April 15, 2020
President Trump is spinning his new decision to suspend funding to the World Health Organization as an act of decisive leadership — one that showcases his devotion to effective crisis management, to gathering good empirical information, and to holding people accountable for leadership failures that had catastrophic human consequences.
In just about every conceivable way, this is the opposite of the truth.
In making this new move, Trump is inviting us to review the basic timeline of events. And it demonstrates that the WHO, for all its initial failures, was still far ahead of Trump in embracing the need for a comprehensive response to coronavirus.
The timeline also once again illustrates Trump’s epic failures in that regard, and reveals the degree to which Trump is now relying on transparently ridiculous scapegoating to erase his own central role in this catastrophe.
In announcing an end to funding for the WHO, Trump claimed the organization was complicit in China’s early coverup of the outbreak’s severity there. He insisted the WHO “pushed China’s misinformation,” and ripped WHO for “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread.”
Trump also claimed that if not for WHO, “the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death.” He lamented that the U.S. can’t rely on WHO for “accurate, timely and independent information to make important public health recommendations and decisions.”
For Trump to position himself in this manner as a spokesperson for crisis management, empiricism and accountability would be positively comical, if the stakes weren’t so monumentally dangerous.
The WHO’s initial mistakes were real, and many critics beyond Trump have pointed to them. The organization was too trusting of China’s early obfuscations about coronavirus, and failed to aggressively push China to be more transparent. The WHO also arguably was too slow to declare a global public health emergency.
But cutting off funding as a punishment is counterproductive and deeply absurd. Indeed, even if you accept that the WHO committed serious errors, the timeline is still far more damning to Trump, by the terms that he himself has set through his criticism of the organization.
The timeline is far more damning to Trump
- By Jan. 23, the WHO was already warning that coronavirus could “appear in any country,” and urged all countries to be “prepared for containment” and get ready to exercise “isolation” and “prevention” measures against its spread.
- At around the same time, on Jan. 22, Trump was asked point-blank whether he worried about coronavirus’s spread, and he answered: “No, not at all,” insisting it was just “one person coming from China” and that “we have it totally under control.”
- And on Jan. 24, Trump hailed China’s “effort” against coronavirus and its “transparency” about it, predicting that “it will all work out well.”
- So Trump showed less concern about its spread in countries outside China — including in our own — than the WHO did.
And in late February, Trump privately raged against his own officials’ conclusion that Trump had to communicate the need for strict social distancing measures far more urgently, leading to “crucial additional weeks” in which the “virus spread largely unimpeded.”
Thus, Trump’s constant citation of his travel restrictions actually points to a major failure: The decision persuaded him he had shut out coronavirus successfully, helping spawn the lax posture that produced all that lost time, the horrifying consequences of which are unfolding right now.
— Jonathan O'Connell (@OConnellPostbiz) April 15, 2020
— Katie Phang (@KatiePhang) April 15, 2020
— Julie Laumann (@Otpor17) April 15, 2020
— Jennifer Cohn Ã¢ÂÂÃ°ÂÂÂ» (@jennycohn1) April 15, 2020
— Claude Taylor (@TrueFactsStated) April 15, 2020
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) April 15, 2020
— Meg Tirrell (@megtirrell) April 15, 2020