In his forthcoming book “Rage,” journalist Bob Woodward revealed that US President Donald Trump knowingly downplayed the danger posed by COVID-19 in the early days of the outbreak. However, to those paying attention to how the administration has handled the pandemic, the idea that they withheld information is not new, a journalist told Sputnik.
“There are so many people that are trying to cash on the Trump phenomenon. You know, obviously, he’s a very interesting character and obviously very over the top and ridiculous, but what really made me scratch my head – I saw some of the headlines – about this book … at BreakThrough News, we covered the way the Trump administration covered up how deadly the coronavirus was,” Kei Pritsker, a journalist with BreakThrough News, told Radio Sputnik’s Political Misfits hosts Michelle Witte and Bob Schlehuber on Thursday.
On February 7, in one of Trump’s 18 interviews with Woodward that form the core of the latter’s new book, Trump called COVID-19 “deadly stuff.”
“You just breathe the air, and that’s how it’s passed,” the president told Woodward in audio recordings available to listen to on the Washington Post’s website. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”
However, only three days after making that comment to Woodward, Trump told Fox News’ Trish Regan: “We’re in very good shape. We have 11 cases. And most of them are getting better very rapidly. I think they will all be better.”
During this time, Trump was also insisting that the virus was no more deadly than a seasonal flu and would be simple to deal with.
In a February 26 news conference at the White House, Trump said: “It’s a little like the regular flu that we have flu shots for. And we’ll essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner.”
On March 19, Trump also admitted to Woodward that he had deliberately downplayed the danger of the virus.
“I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic,” the president said.
“It’s unsurprising,” that Trump made deceptive comments regarding the threat of the virus, Pritsker told Sputnik.
“We all know Donald Trump is the guy who will say whatever he has to say to get elected or to save face. And it was pretty clear in the beginning, definitely to us on BreakThrough – and I think to a lot of people – there was some kind of truth that wasn’t being told. Obviously most of the world’s health experts were telling us that this virus transmits much faster than most viruses and that it’s far more deadly. So to think that Trump wouldn’t have known this – he really thought it was perfectly safe – is a little absurd, and I’m not at all surprised that this administration is corrupt. I think we’ve seen that over the last four years,” Pritsker noted.
Woodward, a veteran Washington Post journalist, has faced backlash for waiting to reveal Trump’s statements. However, Woodward has defended his decision, telling the Associated Press in a recent interview that he needed time to determine whether Trump’s statements about the virus were in fact accurate.
“He tells me this, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, that’s interesting, but is it true?’ Trump says things that don’t check out, right?’” Woodward told AP.
“It really is interesting that Bob Woodward kept this stuff back. And you know, again, though, we kind of knew … that Trump was really covering this up. His initial reaction was not really a reaction at all. He just said: ‘It’ll go away,’” Pritsker noted.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.