As anyone who isn’t a Fox News-addled idiot with tapioca pudding for brains already knows, Trump spent weeks downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus, frittering away precious time that could have been spent containing and preparing for the outbreak to instead scoff at warnings from experts and attempt to prop up the stock market with happy talk.
That’s because Trump himself is a Fox News-addled idiot with tapioca pudding for brains, and he approaches every issue under the sun as a PR problem/opportunity for himself:
As Trump pivots to coronavirus crisis mode, let’s not forget the months of downplaying and denial. pic.twitter.com/gH1xZAHXm5
— The Recount (@therecount) March 17, 2020
When it became clear that downplaying the pandemic wouldn’t be an effective PR strategy anymore, Trump adjusted the approach, attempting to cast himself as a wartime president who is competently leading a struggle against an “invisible enemy.” Some media dupes fell for it.
As always, it’s difficult to chicken-egg whether Fox News is driving the revamped Trump PR strategy or Trump is driving the new Fox News PR strategy. But with whiplash-inducing speed, everyone got on the same page within a week:
What a damning indictment of Fox News from the Post video team here. pic.twitter.com/r8Fz8vo5KV
— andrew kaczynski🤔 (@KFILE) March 18, 2020
So, everyone is now singing from the same hymnal. But it’s hard to demonize an invisible enemy, so Trump/Fox (or Fox/Trump) are now injecting a racism angle. It was predictable; color-coding hate objects has proved so effective with the base. Here’s Trump on Twitter this morning:
I will be having a news conference today to discuss very important news from the FDA concerning the Chinese Virus!
I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously, and have done a very good job from the beginning, including my very early decision to close the “borders” from China – against the wishes of almost all. Many lives were saved. The Fake News new narrative is disgraceful & false!
And here’s the Fox News sycophant chorus:
Brian Kilmeade denies that calling covid-19 “the Chinese virus” is racist: “It’s actually just an accurate term of where it started” pic.twitter.com/158QbMCViR
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) March 18, 2020
When this messaging campaign sinks its hooks into soft tapioca pudding brains nationwide and discrimination, harassment and assaults on people of Asian descent increase, not only will Trump/Fox not give a shit, they’ll double-down.
That’s been their MO all along. They’ve demagogued immigration in ways that resulted in the death, physical harm and harassment of countless innocent people since Trump was elected. It works for the network, and it works for Trump, so they’ll keep at it.
So no, Dana Bash, Stephen Collinson, etc.: Trump hasn’t become presidential. He’s not rising to the fucking occasion now or at any point in the future. From Trump’s perspective, the pandemic is still a PR issue. He’s just adjusting his strategy and rebranding the enemy, giving it a human face for his supporters to punch.