The media meltdown over President Trump stay in the Bethesda hospital is the logical culmination of a nearly four-year media-generated effort to destroy Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and then his transition and presidency. Almost every story the media have peddled about Trump’s mortal sins and his supposedly imminent demise has been proven false and has insidiously lowered the status of media reporting and writing to well below market-tabloid standards.

Trump, Escaping Wile E. Coyotevirus

Media meltdown over Trump’s COVID case is the latest sortie in a four-year effort to destroy his campaign and then presidency.


October 6, 2020 

Once it was announced that
President Trump had COVID-19, the media almost immediately talked of all the people in the “Trump orbit” who fell ill from COVID-19 — including many on his staff, U.S. senators, and at least three White House reporters.

The surreal subtext was not that the toxic Trump had been infected by someone else. Apparently reporters, in their Trump-obsessed universe, believed in some mysterious Aristotelian concept of spontaneous generation, by which his self-spawned coronavirus germs had sickened all within his deadly circuit. Or perhaps Trump was guilty of catching the germ from one of his staffers, who in turn would never have been sickened if they had never been close to Trump in the first place. The possibility that the White House “positive” reporters might have been careless at times or might’ve infected others was never entertained.

Within a few hours, the usual camps and suspects weighed in. Former Clinton and Obama staffer Zara Rahim prayed for Trump’s demise and celebrated his infection with a terse “I hope he dies.” 

The Washington Post hastily took down an official Twitter feed automatically posting an op-ed column expressing a similar hope for a dead president: “Imagine what it will be like to never have to think about Trump again,” on the realization that running such a headline while Trump was sick “rendered it tasteless”— as if it was not tasteless when he was well. Write that after swapping the name “Obama” for “Trump,” and the FBI would have shown up at their doors.

Within hours of news that Trump had COVID-19, the liberal media were off to the funeral games. They gushed about the inevitable cancellation of the upcoming debates, the necessary delay in the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, the likelihood of a soon-to-be acting president Mike Pence, and the possibility/hope of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s stepping up, as third in line for the presidency, to save the ship of state as our new president. No sooner had the president entered the hospital than the ecstatic media enthused that COVID-19 would certainly not disappoint, perhaps the same way they’d hoped that Robert Mueller (doddering as he proved to be) would save them from Trump. Or, as comedian Chris Rock put it: “President Trump’s in the hospital from COVID, and I just want to say my heart goes out to COVID.” 

During the initial press conference with physicians from Walter Reed, reporters seemed crestfallen to hear the news that, after 24 hours or so of fever, the president, as soon as Saturday morning, was reacting well to his cocktail of medicines and natural vitamins and supplements and that he was for a while at least fever-free. And they were shocked that the president was actually a patient who, like all other patients, retained some right to privacy about his own medical strategies and treatments. I don’t recall any of the media asking exactly what pharmaceuticals Joe Biden might be taking, and whether they have had any side effects given Biden’s frequent lapses of cognizance.

As a result of the good news on Trump’s condition, reporters were left to fixate on “oxygen,” repeatedly yelling the same question about whether the president still “was on oxygen” — in their drill-bill style of “are you a white supremacist?” Their implication was that the White House was hiding the truth that Trump surely was nearly spent and in some sort of Woodrow Wilson–like coma, given that he might have had some oxygen before entering the hospital.

In the end, disappointed reporters were left to grumble that Trump’s use of two experimental or off-label drugs was reckless, or revealed a privilege not afforded to hoi polloi, or proved he was in extremis. They could not determine whether Trump the unscientific dunce was surrounded by quacks, or whether, given his laxity in wearing a mask, he didn’t deserve the top care he was receiving.

Anchors, analysts, and pundits sermonized that Trump’s nemesis was a result of his hubris, of his West Wing pseudo “culture of invincibility” and even “recklessness.” Apparently, amid plague, forced lockdown, recession, and riots, arson, and looting, the commander in chief of the world’s largest military and economy, with the greatest political responsibility across the globe, should easily have gone into the “more responsible” Joe Biden basement mode over the past six months. In the media mind, the idea of an active Trump visiting troops, talking with politicos, giving constant press conferences and ad hoc media meetings, speaking to open-air rallies and generally crisscrossing the country “sent the wrong message,” especially given the apparent idea that his job responsibilities were no different from the tasks of secluded candidate Biden, speaking from a Teleprompter or reading notes on his cell phone.
Fox’s Chris Wallace periodically weighed in on spec, with warnings that we should watch the White House carefully given its inability to convey honest accounts of the president’s health, previously epitomized by a short letter from Trump’s longtime physician in 2015, assuring the nation in superlatives that Trump was in good health. As I listened to Wallace, I wondered whether he had ever speculated about Barack Obama’s stealth smoking in the White House, or about the likelihood that Trump had simply followed the presidential precedent of Barack Obama, whose doctor in a similarly short letter assured the country that Obama was healthy, end of discussion, without releasing any records at all.

We can imagine that today’s journalists would have trashed the portly and late-sexagenarian Winston Churchill, upon whose health and welfare the fate of the United Kingdom hinged between 1940 and 1945. After all, Churchill flew dangerously around the world to visit foreign leaders and British and Commonwealth troops, often through enemy skies, surviving near-death experiences multiple times, taking experimental penicillin to combat pneumonia, and experiencing cardiac arrhythmias. Was Churchill unnecessarily risking all around him, as he put them through primitive air travel to Moscow, North Africa (at least once in direct sight of Hitler’s African Corps), North America, and the liberated European countries? Could he not have played the role of a stationary Joseph Stalin or at least stayed put inside a bunker in his nation’s capital, instead of “inspiring” the troops and getting firsthand knowledge of his Allied partners and the troops under his command by taking 25 wartime trips outside Britain?

One media regret seems to be that the Trump coronavirus story has preempted their campaign script of releasing a new “bombshell” or “walls are closing in” autumn surprise every four or five days.

Over the past three-week script, the myth that Trump ignored Russian bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan led to the yarn that Trump was dismantling the Post Office to sabotage mail-in voting, which led to the fiction that Trump mocked American war dead as “suckers” and “losers,” which was followed by Bob Woodward’s concoction that a callous Trump didn’t care about those who were infected, which led to the illegally obtained Trump tax returns, followed by the secretly recorded phone calls with the first lady leaked by a former staffer and “friend.” And then all that careful planning was abruptly sidetracked by the president’s infection.

A worried Michael Moore, with a nod from Joy Reid, seemed to have noticed that the liberal media’s smear locomotive had gone off the tracks — all because the devilishly clever Trump was faking his illness and by inference had bought off the entire team of Walter Reed physicians: “He’s an evil genius, and I raise the possibility of him lying about having COVID-19 to prepare us and counteract his game. He knows being sick tends to gain one sympathy. He’s not above weaponizing this.”

Amid all the “Trump deserved it” hysteria, note that nowhere did Biden or other Trump critics or the media specify what they would have done differently when the virus first arrived months ago. Would they have declined to implement the travel ban that Biden criticized? Listened more intently to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who initially dismissed the utility of masks, said the virus was not much to worry about, suggested that there was no danger in going on a cruise, and predicted that there was no real threat to the U.S.?
Early on, would Biden have listened to the superior wisdom of Nancy Pelosi (“That’s what we’re trying to do today, is to say everything is fine here”), Bill de Blasio (“If you’re not sick, you should be going about your life”), or Andrew Cuomo (“The general risk remains low in New York”), who all, as the virus reached our cities in late February and early March, were urging Americans more or less to ignore the growing panic and get out to shop in Chinatown or have a drink in Manhattan.

Perhaps Trump should have followed the New York lead and urged rest homes to admit COVID-19 patients? Instead, we get accusations that the U.S. has the worst record in the world on dealing with COVID-19, as if the data of China, India, and Russia are accurate, as if one must ignore the roughly equivalent, or sometime worse, record of major European countries such as Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom, and as if just four northeastern states, with about 11 percent of the U.S. population, did not account for almost a third of all U.S. deaths.

The Left rightly cites the 215,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19 and its co-morbidities to emphasize the severity of the virus. But the likely far greater death toll has not yet arrived from the six-month lockdown. And it could be terrifying when we eventually learn of the hundreds of thousands who were sickened or who died from missed medical treatments and surgeries, or from the stress of the quarantines or the spikes in alcohol and drug use, or spousal and child abuse. Joe Biden has not yet told us what he would have done other than to have people wear more masks, a reasonable suggestion, though scientists still remain divided about whether such protections would have significantly reduced the U.S. death toll.

In defense of Michael Moore and the media, they at least know their audiences. A Morning Consult poll taken after the announcement of Trump’s infection showed that 40 percent of Democrats were “happy” at news the president was ill.

The media meltdown is the logical culmination of a nearly four-year media-generated effort to destroy Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and then his transition and presidency. Almost every story the media have peddled about Trump’s mortal sins and his supposedly imminent demise has been proven false and has insidiously lowered the status of media reporting and writing to well below market-tabloid standards — the doomed and inept Trump campaign of 2016 that would suffer a landslide loss, the fraudulent voting machines in 2016, electors who would surely not follow their states’ legal dictates, the fraudulent Clinton-financed Steele dossier, the first impeachment, celebrities’ blow-up/burn-up/behead, incinerate/shoot/stab anti-Trump outbursts, the Logan Act silliness, the emoluments-clause gambit, the 25th Amendment ruse, the 22-month Mueller “dream team” and “all-star” waste, the saga of Michael Cohen’s flipping against Trump, the Ukraine-phone-call impeachment, and the 2020 writ of Trump as guilty for the recession, over 200,000 American dead, a cruel quarantine, and riots, looting, and arson in the streets.

In that larger context of the past four years, an infected Trump was never going to be about a sick president battling the infection, but either an elaborate conspiratorial cover-up, or an overdue cosmic reckoning for his sins, or an ironic end to his campaign, or the well-deserved death warrant of his presidency. The only drama was how well the anchor or analyst or kindred politician could offer enough qualifiers (“this may not be the proper time to, but . . . ”  “this may be misinterpreted, but . . . ” “let us be very careful here, but . . .”) to mask his loathing of the ill Trump and hide his paranoia that somehow, somewhere the frenetic Road Runner Trump might yet once again escape — even from the deadly grasp of Wile E. Coyotevirus.

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Rip McIntosh

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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