The Journalist Told Mr. Trump to Shut up About Coronavirus

Donald Trump cannot stop himself from spreading misinformation.

He should stop talking about the virus and not comment on the number of cases or deaths.  Jack Shafer is Politico’s senior media writer who addressed the President. Here is what he wrote:

Stop congratulating yourself about what a good job you’re doing, and never, ever again claim that you’ve got things “well under control.” Never again compare this virus with the flu. Never again promise that a vaccine is arriving “pretty soon “or that the virus “will go away,” as you repeatedly have, or that “it’s going to disappear.” Don’t blame the Democrats or the Obama administration or the press for your bungling of the crisis. Don’t say “anybody that wants a test can get a test,” because it isn’t true.

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Most everything you have said about the virus has been wrong, inflammatory, and dangerous. You think you’re making things better, but your steady spew of misinformation is confusing people and making the situation worse. Much worse. In your Wednesday night national broadcast, you stirred irrational fears with your words and your heebie-jeebie speaking style. The markets heard you clearly, which is why they promptly went into the swirly on Thursday morning.

You’re so bad at conveying accurate virus information, you make the Fox News channel sound like the Scientific American. If you were a medical doctor, the board of examiners would yank your license. The county prosecutor would then jail you for thousands of counts of malpractice. After that, he’d charge you with manslaughter for serving as the virus’ accomplice.

Besides alarming the public and the markets, your reckless blabber is drowning out the scientific and public health messages the professionals in those fields have disseminated. Every time you say something stupid, they have to stop their vital work and retrace your steps to disinfect the greasy mess you’ve deposited in the public sphere. You’ve so consistently misstated the virus facts that I could be convinced that you’re colluding with the virus to destroy the country. You can’t be that dumb, can you? Well, maybe you can be that dumb. You shook hands with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Lago on March 7, well after health experts told us to maintain social distance. Bolsonaro’s press secretary, whom you hung out with, has now tested positive for the virus, according to news reports. Another reason nobody should listen to what you say about the contagion.

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While I’m calling for you to be gagged, my order is not absolute. If it’s your desire, you can continue with your demagoguery about immigration. Want to holler about the Democrats? Want to kindle a war with Iran? With North Korea? On global trade? As our president, it should be your right to pop off about those topics — as long as we can rely on the other two branches to keep an eye on you. But the virulence of the coronavirus epidemic laughs at 18th-century checks and balances. Please, please cease your commentaries.

Instead of popping off on the virus to fill the dead air around you, do what Vice President Mike Pence — aka the coronavirus czar — has done when asked a question above his scientific understanding: Call on a scientific or public health professional to answer it. You’ve got plenty of scientific muscle on the payroll. Whenever Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been allowed to speak his mind, he’s delivered a clarion call of truth and caution. Establish a rule in your administration that nobody without an M.D., a scientific Ph.D. or an advanced degree in public health can answer questions about the virus. If Trump, Pence, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), or some other undereducated politician insists on slinging some virus talk, let’s make sure they have their comments cleared by a scientific panel first.

Mr. Trump, you’ve done sizable harm to the public health with your utterances. We can’t undo what you’ve done, but there’s still time to limit the damage and save a few lives if only you will put a large, wet sock in it. Because if you don’t shut your mouth, I’m going to come over to the White House and wash it out with soap.