Under the premise that one can fool some of the people all the time, President Donald Trump engaged in a solo town hall broadcast in Miami last week after rejecting a virtual debate with his opponent, Joe Biden.
He may have, however, underestimated NBC host and attorney Savannah Guthrie. During their testy exchange, Trump made several assertions that didn’t ring true. There was a reason. They weren’t. Here’s why.
Trump defended his handling of the coronavirus pandemic saying, “We have done an amazing job. And it’s rounding the corner.” The pandemic has killed more than 220,000 Americans while recording over 8 million confirmed cases. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts an additional 9,000 to 31,000 deaths will occur in the next three weeks.
Meanwhile, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer that announced it would not apply for regulatory clearance for its vaccine until at least the third week in November. Moderna will not apply until Thanksgiving, and two other late-stage candidates, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, have paused their trials.
Rounding which corner? President Trump also claimed that 85% of people who wear a mask catch COVID-19. That is wrong. He apparently was referencing a study from the CDC. But that is not what the study said. The CDC study found that those mask-wearers testing positive for COVID-19 were approximately twice as likely to have dined at a restaurant (the study did not distinguish between indoor, outdoor, or patio seating) in the prior two weeks as those testing negative.Then, of the positive-testing diners, 85% “often” or “always” wore a mask, meaning that mask wearing apparently does not mitigate risks for restaurant patrons. But this does not mean 85% of mask wearers catch COVID-19 as Trump claimed, nor does it mean 85% of restaurant customers are infected.
Christopher Lindsell, co-director of the Health Data Science Center of Vanderbilt University Medical Center and co-author of the study, told CNN that the president misrepresented the data.
He said, “[T]here was no statistical evidence of a difference in mask wearing behavior between those who tested positive and those who tested negative. ... This is very different from the question of ... what percentage of people who wear masks contract the virus. The study was not designed to answer these questions.”
Glad we unmasked that one. Speaking of which, the Trump investigation into Obama-era officials accused of improperly unmasking (revealing) individuals in intelligence reports was closed last week without finding wrongdoing.
When pressed about past remarks on white supremacy, Trump claimed he “denounced white supremacy” during the first debate. An NBC fact checker reported, “Not quite. Asked if he was willing to do it, Trump said, ‘Sure, I’m prepared to do it,’ but then immediately insisted that violence comes from those on the left and not the right.’ ”
Regarding failure to pass a new coronavirus stimulus package, Trump blamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. However, NBC reported, Trump’s positions have changed abruptly and are “out of sync with his own top administration officials as well as Senate Republicans, who are uninterested in giving him the big deal he says he wants.” The Democrat-led House passed a $3.4 trillion HEROES Act in May, which Senate Republicans rejected. Negotiations followed, with the Trump administration trying to reduce it to about $1 trillion, which Democrats declined.
The sides were closer to an agreement when Trump abruptly halted the negotiations Oct. 6 to focus on the Supreme Court vacancy. After the stock market reacted negatively, Trump again pleaded for a big deal. But then Senate Republicans made clear they won’t support him, and Pelosi has called the Senate’s offers insufficient.
So, there. Some will continue to accept the president’s assertions as stated. However, we learned more in this town hall than his behavior at the first debate allowed. I hope this week’s debate is not a repeat of the first.