Would We Even Know Trump Has Coronavirus Without the Free Press?

Jack Holmes
·5 mins read
Photo credit: Getty
Photo credit: Getty

From Esquire

The defining principle of this administration is that they do not feel they are accountable to the public they purportedly serve. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany demonstrates this on a daily basis, not least when she tells reporters they should come work at the White House if they want to know any details about the president's Definitely Real Healthcare Plan that will impact the lives of millions of Americans. The president demonstrates this by lying constantly about pretty much everything, rejecting the concept that his constituents have the right to question what he says and does in their name. So it is not an idle question to ask whether we would know right now that the President of the United States tested positive for COVID-19 if not for the free press.

I mean, last November, when the president was rushed to Walter Reed on a Saturday, the White House claimed he was having a partial(?) routine annual physical. We soon learned the visit was not on his public or private schedules, and that Walter Reed staff were not aware he was coming in advance. A book from New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt reported that Vice President Mike Pence was informed he should prepare to assume the powers of the presidency, at least temporarily, if Trump was required to undergo anesthesia—you know, Routine Annual Physical Stuff.

As far as the current situation, we only learned that Hope Hicks—perhaps Trump's closest aide who spends some of the most time near him, presumably without a mask—had tested positive from the reporting of Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs. The White House had no plans to disclose it. In fact, the New York Times reports they'd hoped to prevent it from becoming public, perhaps because, according to the Washington Post, even after White House officials learned Hicks had symptoms, "Trump and his entourage flew Thursday to New Jersey, where he attended a fundraiser at his golf club in Bedminster and delivered a speech. Trump was in close contact with dozens of other people, including campaign supporters, at a roundtable event." Not great, Bob!

Because the free press uncovered the truth, the president was forced to admit his closest aide did, in fact, have COVID-19 when he called into Sean Hannity's show on Thursday night. This occasioned an incredibly bizarre monologue about the perils of having members of the military wanting to hug and kiss you.

This preemptive attempt to blame members of the military and/or law enforcement for this emerging White House COVID cluster is completely bizarre. It raises the question of why Trump is so eager to establish a cause-and-effect chain where someone gave the virus to Hope Hicks, who gave it to him. We have no way of knowing yet that this is the case. We all know the president is not a big Mask Guy, and he doesn't really operate on the basis that he could potentially get infected. At points during the Republican National Convention, he and the vice president were working a maskless rope line. And people mocked Joe Biden for staying in his basement.

Speaking of Biden, it seems perfectly possible that Donald Trump, our fearless leader, was carrying the coronavirus when he was hollering on the debate stage the other night. Moderator Chris Wallace has already said he's going to get a test, and we've yet to hear back on Biden's results. This is the particular problem with running two septuagenarians on the two major-party tickets during a pandemic that falls more heavily on older people, though again, only one of them behaved as if the pandemic was fucking real. The other guy, while downplaying it in public in the delusional belief that he could wish the economic downturn away without containing the virus, also personally behaved like he was living some sort of charmed life. Which, based on what we've learned from his business and tax history, he pretty much has.

But now we're learning he has "mild" symptoms, which we know with this disease can very likely turn into serious symptoms. And we are forced to immediately question whether even that description is accurate. And who will communicate on behalf of this White House regarding the president's health status going forward? Who is left that has even a modicum of credibility? Certainly not the press secretary. If Jennifer Jacobs hadn't found out about Hope Hicks, would the explanation of Trump's absence from the campaign trail be that he's holed up in the White House right now "working on his healthcare plan" or some such? This is the problem with lying all the time: you destroy the integrity of the presidency and leave yourself with no capital to spend when it really matters. More than one administration has withheld negative information about the president's health, but no administration has lied so freely and recklessly as this one. There are perilous times ahead.

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