One of the most damaging consequences of having a president who is a pathological liar is that when a crisis occurs his word has no value. It’s impossible to lead when the public has no faith in what the leader says. That’s true whether the crisis involves foreign conflicts, economic turmoil, or viral pandemics.
Donald Trump has been downplaying the severity of COVID-19 (coronavirus) for months. He has said that there were only a handful of cases and that they would soon go to zero. He said it would disappear miraculously. He called it a Democratic hoax. Just yesterday he said “it’s something that we have tremendous control over.” Obviously, none of that was true. And the American people seem to be aware that Trump has been lying to them. A new poll by NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist reveals that a majority of Americans don’t trust what Trump has been telling them about COVID-19. According to the poll:
“Americans have little trust in the information they are hearing from President Trump about the novel coronavirus, and their confidence in the federal government’s response to it is declining sharply. […] Just 37% of Americans now say they had a good amount or a great deal of trust in what they’re hearing from the president, while 60% say they had not very much or no trust at all in what he’s saying.”
This is worse than typical approval polls (which are also bad for Trump) because in this matter people’s lives depend on their ability to trust their leaders. Clearly they do not. And that distrust is specific to Trump. The poll also shows that other sources of information are generally well respected. People trust public health experts (84-13%), state and local officials (72-24%), and the media (50-47%). That last stat has gotta really steam Trump. He’s trailing the media in the trust gap by 20 points.
As result of Trump lying to his supporters, he is creating a situation that puts them (and all of us) in greater danger. The poll shows that a majority of Republicans (54%) believe that the coronavirus matter is blown out of proportion. Compared to Democrats who consider it a serious threat (76%). That makes socially distancing from Trump supports more critical than ever. If they don’t take this virus seriously they are much less likely to be taking precautions to avoid getting or transmitting it.
Of course Trump’s State TV propaganda machine, Fox News, has been backing him up all along. Every time he would undermine vital warnings that this could spread, his flunkies on Fox would agree and mock those who advised taking preventative measures. GOP congressman Devin Nunes told Fox’s Maria Bartiromo that “It’s a great time to just go out, go to a local restaurant.” Fox and Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt said that “It’s actually the safest time to fly.” Although, while Fox News was giving their viewers such terrible advice, they were instructing their own employees to comply with the safety guidelines provided by the CDC.
The American people are wise not to put their trust in Trump. He has never been honest with them about anything. He was impeached for lying about his efforts to extort the president of Ukraine in order to get dirt on Joe Biden. The Mueller report confirmed that Trump “welcomed and encouraged“ help from Russia in the 2016 presidential election. And this week it was revealed that foreign entities are now spreading disinformation about the coronavirus. But you have to wonder if that disinformation isn’t coming more from domestic sources like Fox News and Donald Trump.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
The Daily Show’s timeline of Trump’s coronavirus lies. It’s funny, but it’s not funny.
TRUMP: "This is a pandemic. I've felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic."
ALSO TRUMP: pic.twitter.com/tnPYp4KQZx
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) March 17, 2020