Erick Erickson: Trump Lied About COVID To Protect The Liberals Who Wouldn't Have Believed Him
Yesterday, we learned that Bob Woodward knew all along that Trump knew all along that COVID-19 was a much bigger deal than he let on. There's really no good guy in this scenario.
But Erick Erickson is far more comfortable with a scenario in which Woodward is much more "the bad guy" than Trump is, and, over the course of approximately 12,000 words, attempts to lay out his case for why it was bad for Woodward not to have released the tapes, but not that bad actually for Trump to not have told America what he told Bob Woodward in the interview. The main bad guys in this scenario are Woodward, the media "in general," and Democrats who Erickson believes would have not believed Trump about how bad COVID-19 was going to be if he said it, because of how we would think he was just trying to distract us from his impeachment hearings, which ended two days prior to his conversation with Woodward.
Erickson's first point here is that this is just evidence that the media is bad, as is the fact that the media will definitely not criticize Woodward for holding onto this information. He is very outraged about this in particular!
Via Erick Erickson:
My outrage is exhausted over all angles of this story except this one — a self-aware and self-reflective media would be absolutely crucifying Bob Woodward for withholding these audio records as American bodies piled up, but like vultures, maggots, catfish, and other carrion-eating animals, they'll continue picking at the corpse of virus coverage instead of ever turning on their own.
The American news media is less trusted and less popular than either the President of the United States or a turd floating in a pool and this is why.
Bob Woodward could have released the tapes after concluding his interviews with the President. He chose instead to hold on to them for money.
Wow, yes. I can hardly believe that "the media" is not crucifying Woodward for doing this. Well, we did. And here is a Newsweek article about Woodward facing loads of criticism, featuring many tweets from reporters criticizing Woodward for holding onto the tapes. And here is an NBC article that is pretty much the same deal. Here's some criticism on Poynter. Here is an AP article discussing Woodward's response to this apparent non-existent criticism, along with several examples of said non-existent criticism.
Perhaps "the media," as a single entity, should have sent out a press release. With a big bow attached. To Erick Erickson's home.
His next big point is that there are 50 states and the president can't tell them what to do:
We are dealing with a virus that came from China that we only have eight solid months of familiarity with and the data, knowledge, and information about it has changed dramatically in that time. Concurrently, we are not in a unitary state but have fifty semi-sovereign nations over which the President of the United States has very limited power. Many of the demands related to presidential action include demands for mask mandates and shutdowns and even Joe Biden acknowledges the President has no authority for either.
It certainly does say something, though, that the states that have done the worst jobs with masks and stay-at-home orders were very pro-Trump states. Perhaps if he had simply recommended that they do this and talked with the governors of the states that refused and encouraged them, some lives could have been saved. It also would be easier for states to determine they could order a shutdown if there had been federal support in the form of monetary assistance. And then there is the power the president does have, like the ability to order companies to produce protective equipment for first responders, which he unaccountably refused to do. Because freedom.
Erickson's next argument is that if he had urged more caution or taken the virus more seriously, the Left wouldn't have believed him and would have thought he was distracting from his impeachment hearings. Which, again, ended two days before this particular conversation with Woodward — the conversations of course went on for months.
The President is not perfect and did make mistakes, but many of the partisans who would savage the President are people who would not have believed him if he did say the virus was a threat because, at the time, he was going through impeachment and they would have accused him of trying to distract people from impeachment.
So he downplayed the seriousness of the virus in order to protect those of us who would not have believed him if he said it was a threat, and what? Threw his own supporters to the wolves? To save us?
The Left is capable of listening to scientists and doctors and making decisions based on that information. What Trump is or is not saying does not and will never factor into it. We also tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to not killing people. You tell us "fewer people will die if you stay home and wear a mask when you do have to go out," we're willing to do that. Because hey, even if it turned out that it didn't help or do anything (which it does, clearly), it always could have turned out the other way. Duh.
Trump's people, on the other hand, will follow his lead. He walks into a burning building, they're right behind him. He says "Drink this Flavor Aid, it is delicious and drinking it will totally piss off the libs," they will drink it. They are simple people in that way. If his concern was saving lives, that is the way he should have gone.
But according to Erickson, if he had done that, we would have called him racist, just like we did when he wanted to ban travel to and from China:
This isn't hypothetical. They did it with the killing of Sulemani and they did it with the travel ban to China. They would not have taken him seriously. They attacked him as a racist for the travel ban. They used the World Health Organization's contradictory information to challenge the President's claims.
This would have been almost a good point if that had actually happened. Trump was not called a racist for banning travel to and from China, but for a number of other things that were, obviously, racist. Such as insisting upon calling it "the China virus" or "the Wuhan flu," and for another travel ban altogether: one which included Nigeria, currently the largest economy in Africa. Another criticism was that it banned travel from China but not, initially, from European countries where the virus was spreading quickly. My father was able to come home from Sicily in late February, no problem, no quarantine required.
His next point is exactly the same as his last:
Unfortunately, it is also a fact that the virus began spreading during the Democrats' ridiculous impeachment farce. Just as with the President banning travel to China, if the President had raised the alarm about the virus, Democrats would have claimed the President was seeking to distract from impeachment. The media would have helped.
You can disagree all you want, but deep down you absolutely know this is true and those of you who deny it lack intellectual honesty.
Even if that were true, which it's not, it shouldn't have mattered. Clearly, he doesn't mind doing all kinds of other things to attempt to distract the nation from more serious criticism of his actions. And given the way things worked out, he would have been able to do a big ol' I told you so, which I'm sure he would have enjoyed.
Erickson does manage to say one true thing in all of this:
There were a bunch of things the President could have done differently. In short, the President could have led, but that would have required him to stand up to and contradict vocal conspiracy theorists on his own side that he did not want to alienate.
Well, yeah. And he still doesn't want to do that.
And yet I would argue that there is literally nothing he could do to alienate those people, including getting up and telling them that they are all wrong about absolutely everything. He's like their Pope. Like, the Pope can get up and say "Surprise! There's actually no such place as Limbo!" and people aren't going to ask, "Hey, so what happens to all the unbaptized babies that are supposed to be there?" They're going to just go with it. If Trump had said, "This virus is bad, wear masks, stay at home but also don't hoard all of the toilet paper," his people would have just gone with it. He could put an end to practically all of the stupid and dangerous conspiracies these people believe with one fell swoop and he chooses not to. Not just because he's a coward and he's afraid they won't like him, but because he actually likes the fact that these people are so loyal to him that they will risk their own lives to help him downplay the virus.
If Erickson's point is true — that no matter what Trump does, the media and the Left will say mean things about him — it still doesn't make any sense for him to have done the wrong thing here. In fact, were he not a monster, this would offer him a certain amount of freedom to do the right thing regardless of what we think. Clearly, he does not see it that way.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse