We were one of millions of American families that recently received a post card with a summary of the advice you’ve been getting on how to deal with the coronavirus. The card, which was paid for with tax dollars, came with the headline “President Trump’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America.”
I’ve received many government mailers over the years from administrations of both parties. Occasionaly, they’ll include a brief message from the incumbent president, but never a blatant headline like this card carries.
(The headline is a fraud anyway. Instead of providing useful advice on how to slowdown the coronavirus, Trump has downplayed its seriousness, offered false hope for a quick vaccine, and promoted two drugs that have never been proven to treat the disease. Public health experts hold their breath every time he opens his mouth on the subject.)
Trump appears to be viewing the coronavirus pandemic as a way to promote his reelection. Several news outlets have reported that Trump wants his name on every stimulus check mailed to citizens (normally, a functionary in the Treasury Department would sign such checks) and has bragged that the TV ratings for his daily briefings rival those of “Monday Night Football.”
This is not the first time Trump has used public resources to promote his reelection and it won’t be the last. White House social media director Dan Scavino recently tweeted a doctored news clip that appeared to show Joe Biden endorsing Trump’s reelection bid. Scavino is paid by the government, not Trump’s reelection campaign, but that didn’t stop him from spending time on a partisan political stunt.
The clip, which was tweeted and retweeted millions of times, appears to show Biden saying at a political rally that “we can only reelect Donald Trump.” The clip edits out the rest of Biden’s sentence. He’s what he actually said:
“We can only reelect Donald Trump if in fact we get engaged in this circular firing squad here. It’s got to be a positive campaign.”
Trump, who has never cared about the truth or accuracy, retweeted the clip, as did campaign manager Brad Parscale and campaign senior legal advisor Jenna Ellis. The clip was also tweeted by conservative talk show host Mark Levin and conservative web sites such as Townhall and RedState.
But Trump’s campaign is playing a different tune now, sending cease and desist letters to television stations airing an ad from super PAC Priorities USA Action that’s a scathing attack on Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The ad features a graph mapping coronavirus cases in the U.S. over the past two months with audio of comments Trump has made downplaying the threat of the virus.
The letter, which also suggests the stations’ broadcast licenses might be in jeopardy if they keep running the ad, said the ad “stitched together fragments from multiple speeches by President Trump to fraudulently and maliciously imply that President Trump called the coronavirus outbreak a ‘hoax’.”
The ad doesn’t explicitly say Trump called the virus a “hoax.” It runs audio of Trump saying , “This is their new hoax,” without identifying who he was talking about, as the number of coronavirus cases rises on the graph. Trump was referring to Democratic criticism of the president’s slow response to the threat.
Then there was that fund-raising mailer sent out by the Republican Party that appeared to be an official U.S. Census form, and the high volume of mysterious phone calls that jammed the lines of the Iowa Democratic Party on the night of the caucuses. I can’t wait until the real campaign starts after Labor Day.