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POLITICIZING: MSNBC Declares Coronavirus to be Trumps Chernobyl

Is the Coronavirus Donald Trump’s Hurricane Katrina? Is it his Iran hostage crisis? If you thought journalists hadn’t politicized this health crisis enough, get ready for another example. Wanting a historical analogy for the response to COVID-19, the Thursday cast of MSNBC Live settled on the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl. 

Host Stephanie Ruhle began the comparisons by asking Washington Post columnist Brian Klaas, “You’ve called this his Chernobyl. Can you explain?” 

 

 

Klaas responded by asserting that Trump’s obsession with his image his causing people to die, “I think since the beginning of this crisis, the important thing for Donald Trump has been protecting myths around his alternative reality which is to say that he has this completely under control. And in Chernobyl, what you had was a moment in which protecting the Soviet state’s myths were the most important thing and that caused people to die.”

Ruhle then tossed the conversation to New York Times columnist Bret Stephens who also agreed with the Chernobyl analogy, “I’ve made a similar point and it goes deeper than the way in which the president has handled this. This has been a truth optional presidency from the beginning. And when you have a president, an administration which so deliberately works to fray trust between the administration and the country, what you’ll end up in is a situation where you have some sort of emergency and nobody believes what the president has to say.”

Stephens then declared himself a prophet, “I wrote a column about this last June having no idea we were going to be faced with the coronavirus crisis. Just in the wake of the Chernobyl HBO series making this exact point which is that the president has so corroded trust that the moment when he needs it, it’s just not there. People don’t believe a word he’s saying.”

Speaking of people not believing a word people are saying, Ruhle proved that the media also has a problem of having  “corroded trust” when she repeated the long since debunked idea that, “three weeks ago, the president did call this a hoax. He said cases would go down to zero. That’s, obviously, not what we’re seeing.”

Here is a transcript for the March 12 show:

MSNBC

MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle

9:05 AM ET

STEPHANIE RUHLE: Let’s start with the president’s remarks last night. You’ve called this his Chernobyl. Can you explain? 

BRIAN KLAAS: Yeah, I think since the beginning of this crisis, the important thing for Donald Trump has been protecting myths around his alternative reality which is to say that he has this completely under control. And in Chernobyl, what you had was a moment in which protecting the Soviet state’s myths were the most important thing and that caused people to die and so I think what we need objective policy that is driven by evidence. It’s driven by public health experts. It is driven by honesty and credibility and unfortunately what you’ve had for the last couple of months is Trump playing catch-up and trying to spin this as a PR problem or economic problem as opposed to public health crisis that requires urgent leadership that he’s simply not delivered so far. 

RUHLE: Bret?

BRET STEPHENS: I’ve made a similar point and it goes deeper than the way in which the president has handled this. This has been a truth optional presidency from the beginning. And when you have a president, an administration which so deliberately works to fray trust between the administration and the country, what you’ll end up in is a situation where you have some sort of emergency and nobody believes what the president has to say. I wrote a column about this last June having no idea we were going to be faced with the coronavirus crisis. Just in the wake of the Chernobyl HBO series making this exact point which is that the president has so corroded trust that the moment when he needs it, it’s just not there. People don’t believe a word he’s saying. 

RUHLE: To give a little context to that Eli, three weeks ago, the president did call this a hoax. He said cases would go down to zero. That’s, obviously, not what we’re seeing. It’s not what we heard last night. But seeing that the president is still reticent to actually do an adequate amount of testing, assess the risk and then address it, has he lost the credibility he needs at a time like this?   

 

 

 

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