Trump, on Feb. 7: You just breathe the air and that's how it's passed.
September 9, 2020 8:50 PM   Subscribe

Investigative journalist, author, and an associate editor of the Washington Post, Bob Woodward spoke with President Trump 18 times over the course of December 2019 to July 2020. Woodward recorded these interviews, and WaPo reports "Woodward book: Trump says he knew coronavirus was ‘deadly’ and worse than the flu while intentionally misleading Americans.".

Woodward's "Rage" (a follow-up to Sept. 2018's bestseller "Fear: Trump in the White House") will be published on September 15. Today's Washington Post article has excerpts, as well as audio clips. There are audio clips at CNN. Briefly:

(1) In a January 28 top secret intelligence briefing, Trump was told the new virus could be as deadly as the influenza pandemic of 1918 [which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide, including 675,000 Americans], and that asymptomatic spread was occurring in China.

(2) Ten days later [Feb. 7], Trump called Woodward and revealed that he thought the situation was far more dire than what he had been saying publicly. “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”

(3) a. On March 19: "Now it’s turning out it’s not just old people, Bob. Just today and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It’s not just old- older. Young people too, plenty of young people."

The Guardian reports: Trump defended his comments to journalist Bob Woodward about his efforts to downplay the coronavirus pandemic, saying he was emphasizing the need to “show strength as a nation”.

“I’m a cheerleader for this country,” the president said. “I don’t want people to be frightened; I don’t want to create panic.” That comment would seem to clash with Trump’s repeated warnings about the recent protests against racism and police brutality.


Trump Admits Downplaying the Virus Knowing It Was ‘Deadly Stuff’ (Maggie Haberman at the New York Times)

The 5 Wildest Revelations in Bob Woodward’s New Trump Book at New York Magazine.

As of today, there have been 28 million confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, with 6 million of them in the U.S.
As of today, there have been 907,276 confirmed deaths worldwide, with 195,211 of them in the U.S.

Woodward defends decision to withhold Trump’s virus comments (AP News): “He tells me this, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, that’s interesting, but is it true?’ Trump says things that don’t check out, right?” Woodward told the AP during a telephone interview. Using a famous phrase from the Watergate era, when Woodward’s reporting for the Post helped lead to President Richard Nixon’s resignation, Woodward said his mission was to determine, “What did he know and when did he know it?” On Twitter and elsewhere online, commentators accused Woodward of valuing book sales over public health. [...]

During his AP interview, Woodward said Trump called him “out of the blue” in early February to “unburden himself” about the virus, which then had few cases in the U.S. But Woodward said that only in May was he satisfied that Trump’s comments were based on reliable information and that by then the virus had spread nationwide. “If I had done the story at that time about what he knew in February, that’s not telling us anything we didn’t know,” Woodward said. At that point, he said, the issue was no longer one of public health but of politics. His priority became getting the story out before the election in November.

“That was the demarcation line for me,” he said. “Had I decided that my book was coming out on Christmas, the end of this year, that would have been unthinkable.”


(3) b. Also on March 19, Trump admitted to Woodward that he deliberately minimized the danger. “I wanted to always play it down,” the president said. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
posted by Iris Gambol (173 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
 
May the time of craven men, more concerned with appearance and profit than being of substance and principal, come to a swift end soon.
posted by nubs at 8:56 PM on September 9 [54 favorites]


LOL what kind of idiot would plan to release a book about Trump at Christmas, a point past which he would potentially have been voted out? He timed it to maximize sales.
posted by axiom at 9:03 PM on September 9 [11 favorites]


Meh. I don't think it changes anything in practice.

Those who hate him will point out that he was denying publicly available knowledge in order to keep the stock market up.* This merely moves the needle a bit further away from the "Incompetence through Denial" and closer to "Malice."

Those who support him will claim it was faked, that COVID "only kills 6%," and their liberties not to wear a mask and carry an AK-47 to "defend property."

It's not going to eat into his 42% approval rating.

At best, it may bolster the 52% disapproval rating.

This is the Access Hollywood tape all over again: it sounds bad, but will ultimately be meaningless.

*The stock market is not the economy.
posted by MrGuilt at 9:03 PM on September 9 [42 favorites]


Unfortunately, with Trump the question is "what did he know and when did he know it, and then when did he stop knowing it?"

Feb 7 Trump makes all too much sense to me. He is excited to be privy to this information that he still thinks of as someone else's problem, so he can revel in the scary details. He loves that stuff. (See also his crazy ramblings about the ins and outs of crime.)

Does he still "know" any of these specific facts a month later? I don't think he really did. Self-interest motivated him to replace all of it with new rationalizations (the data is warped by testing patterns, the U.S. is somehow not like China, it will disappear in warmer weather, et cetera.)
posted by anhedonic at 9:07 PM on September 9 [15 favorites]


Well, by that time, the serpent called Miller, and the Victorian doll golem called Jared had time to tell him more interesting things than intelligence people, who tend not to be excitable.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:25 PM on September 9 [7 favorites]


The failure to confront the pandemic will secure Trump's place as the worst president in our history. I still think Bush did more damage to the world on the whole, but even he would have stood up to this crisis better. I feel like we're dealing with the big lebowski distinction between nazis and nihilists. Say what you will about Bush but at least he believed in something other than the gaping yawning vortex of his own self regard. Trump would nuke Chicago if he thought it would get him good press
posted by dis_integration at 9:36 PM on September 9 [49 favorites]


Trump knew in February that COVID was deadlier than the flu by a long shot, and he knew that it was transmitted in the air. Since then he's been lying to the country, and over 190,000 (and probably quite a lot more) Americans have died from it.

Bob Woodward had audio of Trump saying he was going to lie about it to the public in February. Since then he's been sitting on the recordings while he was finishing up his book for publication.

I'm not saying that an actual smoking-gun of Trump admitting he was going to "play it down" would have made a huge difference, but I'm fairly certain it at least made a small one.

So, what fraction of 190,000 deaths should we ascribe to Bob Woodward sitting on the goods for seven months while COVID tore across the country?

I'm not far from putting him in the chickenshit brigade with the likes of John Bolton, John Kelly, Jim Mattis, and Rex Tillerson.

Trump has an excellent chance of winning again in November because all these people are deluded into thinking this is normal politics when the very Republic is at stake.
posted by tclark at 9:49 PM on September 9 [71 favorites]


Sure, sitting on evidence that a person in power is willfully letting a pandemic rage for seven months is the height of ethics.

But, yah know gotta sell books!
posted by brookeb at 9:55 PM on September 9 [5 favorites]


I'm inclined not to ding Woodward's ethics here.

As noted upthread, this book is not going to shift anybody's perception of its subject. Not one iota. And it wouldn't have done it earlier this year either.

Trump gonna Trump. Only thing that can be done about that is getting the fucker out of office.
posted by flabdablet at 10:07 PM on September 9 [28 favorites]


Last Sunday's Doonesbury looks even more relevant now.
posted by Paul Slade at 10:15 PM on September 9 [31 favorites]


It has been well known/widely reported that Trump was briefed on this in January. I guess this is somewhat of a revelation because it removes the plausible deniability that Trump does not actually read his briefing or pay attention to them.
Maybe this would give some other republican senators pause in defending him? At this point its not just about getting the president out of office, but getting rid of every republic senator or representative that has been letting this go unchecked.
posted by CostcoCultist at 10:16 PM on September 9 [9 favorites]


I'm not even a tiny bit shocked to hear any of this.

I'm inclined not to ding Woodward's ethics here.
As noted upthread, this book is not going to shift anybody's perception of its subject. Not one iota. And it wouldn't have done it earlier this year either.


Part of me thinks Woodward should have come out with this sooner, part of me agrees that it does no good to know then or now either.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:23 PM on September 9 [6 favorites]


Yeah. I don’t see any reason to attack Woodward. First, we knew this - Fauci was airing the same damn info early on, and nobody listened to him then either - it’s not like a journalist would have gotten everyone’s attention when members and advisors of the actual administration were saying it all along and not being heard. And Trump openly DID downplay it. This was his strategy, he stuck to it, even though every single actual expert was arguing to take it seriously (go back and watch the briefings, if you can stand it). It’s interesting to have a tape but there’s no real revelation here: we knew the content of his briefings, we saw the public stance. Only new addition is hearing him say it.

Second, the profit motive does not explain much for Woodward. He’s a 77 year old man with nothing to prove, worth $15 million already. He has already written one book about Trump (not election timed), and wrote something like 2 about Obama and 4 about bush? He writes books and puts out books steadily. His life is about writing books about presidents. There would be something weird if he did NOT write about trumps first term, and this was the access he got, January to July, and so this is about as fast as that book can come out.

Let’s just keep our eye on the ball.
posted by Miko at 10:32 PM on September 9 [67 favorites]


so, what's scarier? just the basic fact that trump knew the virus was deadly but stupidly tried to play it down short-term to keep his support high through the next news cycle?

or that he knew it was deadly and that obviously everyone else would end up knowing that knew (given all the death he knew he was not preventing), but that he also knew that it wouldn't matter because his long-term propaganda machine would protect him from that?
posted by wibari at 10:34 PM on September 9 [8 favorites]


The entire Trump misadventure has been watching the people go "surely this" once a week. Who exactly will react and solve it? Do you know anyone on the fence?

The claims of Trump, a known and accepted unreliable narcissistic over exaggerator, leaked, would just be the same malaise. The US had already passed the threshold of what any redditor would consider ok pre covid for behaviour and harm done.
posted by Phalene at 10:36 PM on September 9 [10 favorites]


I'm inclined not to ding Woodward's ethics here.

As noted upthread, this book is not going to shift anybody's perception of its subject. Not one iota. And it wouldn't have done it earlier this year either.
We're not talking about whether the book would have moved the needle much. The question is whether recordings of the US president directly contradicting his public statements about a paramount national emergency would have had any effect on the way things unfold.

I don't know whether they would have or not, but the existence of the recordings is a significant element here.

What I'd really like to know, and what we probably never will, is what Trump was telling to, say, Rupert Murdoch and Sean Hannity in their back-channel communications.
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:37 PM on September 9 [9 favorites]


What’s the difference between “move the needle much” and “the way things unfold?”
posted by Miko at 10:40 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


If Woodward would’ve come out with this immediately, would there have been policy ramifications that would have saved lives? The responses by state governors allied with Trump have been so partisan and venal that when they had to choose between trump and scientific fact they fell over themselves to follow Trump. Isn’t before the election a vital time to release this information?
posted by Selena777 at 10:41 PM on September 9 [21 favorites]


Has this come out the day he said it, we would have shrugged it off as more doomsaying - something you’ll recall we were awash in at that point. The deaths didn’t mount and become a national horror for many more weeks. Over those weeks, 45 said plenty of things that were counter to the reality or a clear attempt to dismiss, question and downplay. Had Woodward released the tape on February 8, it would have been part of the slush of daily briefing and reaction churn and been forgotten by March 31, bringing us no special knowledge or inshht and changing the administration response not one tiny bit. He said those things because that was his strategy .He is still saying them. Bluff all the way. Believers will believe. It matters not at all.
posted by Miko at 10:46 PM on September 9 [10 favorites]


I just find it so weird that Trump would just willingly talk to Bob Woodward about anything...
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:49 PM on September 9 [70 favorites]


part of me agrees that it does no good to know then or now either.

As far as knowing now, in recent years, only about 60% of registered voters vote. Some of that is suppression but there's massive numbers of people that just don't bother to vote, particularly younger voters who skew liberal. Getting them riled up enough to show up is important. In 2018, roughly 10% more registered voters did and there was a blue wave.
posted by Candleman at 10:50 PM on September 9 [3 favorites]


just find it so weird that Trump would just willingly talk to Bob Woodward about anything...

CNN’s Politics blog had a good piece on this that explained it to my satisfaction.
posted by Miko at 10:54 PM on September 9 [15 favorites]


Yeah. I don’t see any reason to attack Woodward.

I look at it this way. Are there x number of people in the country who would have taken the virus more seriously if they heard this recording, and made different decisions about mask-wearing, public events, and so on?

And are there y number of local mayors, governors, and city counselors who would have made slightly different decisions if they had heard this recording, and maybe started a lockdown a day or two earlier?

If x and y are greater than zero -- and I have to imagine they are -- then Woodward's decision not to release the recording led to z number of deaths.

I guess we'll never really know.
posted by mmoncur at 11:13 PM on September 9 [30 favorites]


I just find it so weird that Trump would just willingly talk to Bob Woodward about anything..

Trump has no idea how stupid Donald J Trump is. Also, he's incredibly self destructive. Whenever he wins something he immediately starts pissing it away.
posted by rdr at 11:14 PM on September 9 [13 favorites]


It’s not a journalist’s job to try to “move the needle” or play 4-d chess re: what will affect an election.

It’s a journalist’s job to uncover facts and tell the public the goddamn truth.

Woodward chose to withhold information. People died. Nothing else matters.

Of course he thinks it was the right decision. I’m sure Comey and Mueller think they made the right calls, too. Fuck them all for their arrogance and complacency.
posted by FallibleHuman at 11:15 PM on September 9 [30 favorites]


Prez shitstain is a starfucker, and Woodward is a star. Woodward writes the Big Books donny wants to be in.
posted by vrakatar at 11:17 PM on September 9 [14 favorites]


May the time of craven men, more concerned with appearance and profit than being of substance and principal, come to a swift end soon.

In a sense this is going to happen.
posted by codacorolla at 11:17 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


I just find it so weird that Trump would just willingly talk to Bob Woodward about anything...

Donald Trump believes that the most compelling, charismatic, convincing person in the world is Donald Trump. Why wouldn't he talk to someone who was going to write a book about him? He's tremendous!
posted by mr_roboto at 11:17 PM on September 9 [11 favorites]


would there have been policy ramifications that would have saved lives?
probably not. The scale for dereliction and neglect from this president shifted long ago. Woodward did his job- keep the nutjob talking, roll tape.
posted by vrakatar at 11:22 PM on September 9 [14 favorites]


Trump happily talks to Bob Woodward because he understands that it doesn't actually matter what Bob Woodward writes about him. The people who have deluded themselves such that they continue to support Trump cannot be swayed by anything written in a book. They cannot be swayed, even by Trump's own words. It is literally a cult. At least three different ones, actually. (The Qs, the religious fundamentalists who think he either is Jesus or is bringing about the second coming, and the "own the libs" MAGA cult) The Q segment is just the most obvious about being a cult, what with their belief in secret messages that confirm their every feverish spark of imagination. There is also a small number who will not be swayed because he allows them to loot with near impunity, but they aren't a large enough group to get him anywhere near winning an election. Many of them do spend effort reinforcing the beliefs of the cults, though. (Think Tucker Carlson)

We keep looking for rationality where there is none. It is a waste of time and only serves to tie ourselves into knots rather than focusing on those who have not set aside their faculties.

That said, Trump's words being reported earlier, before the battle lines were drawn, could have made a significant difference in how people reacted to the various public health measures by giving them permission to believe it is real and it is dangerous enough to warrant drastic measures.
posted by wierdo at 11:41 PM on September 9 [23 favorites]


We are so fucked.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 11:49 PM on September 9 [10 favorites]


From recent studies, we know that the transmission from individuals without symptoms is playing a more significant role in the spread of the virus than previously understood. So you don’t seem to have symptoms and it still gets transferred. In light of these studies, the CDC is advising the use of non-medical cloth face covering as an additional voluntary public health measure. So it’s voluntary; you don’t have to do it. They suggested for a period of time. But this is voluntary. I don’t think I’m going to be doing it. [...] So with the masks, it’s going to be, really, a voluntary thing. You can do it. You don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it, but some people may want to do it, and that’s okay. It may be good. Probably will. They’re making a recommendation. It’s only a recommendation. It’s voluntary. - Remarks by President Trump, Coronavirus Task Force Press Briefing, April 3, 2020

Trump doesn’t wear coronavirus mask in public at Ford plant (CNBC, May 21, 2020) Key Points: Trump was visiting Ford’s Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, which has a policy of requiring masks there. The plant is currently making ventilators in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel had said that Trump had a “legal responsibility” under state law to wear a mask when he visited the plant.

Trump says some Americans wear coronavirus masks to signal disapproval of him (CNBC, June 18, 2020) In a wide-ranging interview with The Wall Street Journal published Thursday, Trump also said a big issue he has with masks is that people fidget with them. “They put their finger on the mask, and they take them off, and then they start touching their eyes and touching their nose and their mouth,” he told the Journal. “And then they don’t know how they caught it?”

Trump says ‘masks are good,’ but doubts national mandate is needed as coronavirus cases rise (CNBC, July 1, 2020) A national mask mandate could save lives by helping prevent the spread of the highly contagious disease, according to numerous health experts.

8 Times Trump Refused to Wear a Mask, Downplayed Their Effectiveness (Business Insider, July 11, 2020) The change in Trump's rhetoric comes after he repeatedly refused to wear a mask in public and mocked his opponent, Joe Biden, for doing so. It also comes as the president's campaign struggles to regain its footing amid a rash of negative polling over his handling of the pandemic.

Coronavirus: Donald Trump wears face mask for the first time (BBC, July 12, 2020) He has previously said that he would not wear a mask and mocked Democratic rival Joe Biden for doing so. [...] The change of tone came as the US recorded 66,528 coronavirus cases on Saturday, a new daily record.

Trump says 'I don't agree' with CDC director's mask message (NBC, July 17, 2020) The president continued his muddied messaging on face coverings, saying "masks cause problems too," but also, "I think masks are good."

Coronavirus: Donald Trump vows not to order Americans to wear masks (BBC, July 18, 2020) [...] speaking to Fox News on Friday, Mr Trump said he didn't agree with a national mask mandate, saying people should have a "certain freedom".

Unmasked: How Trump's mixed messaging on face-coverings hurt U.S. coronavirus response (NBC, August 9, 2020) "People have died because we haven't had consistent messaging on mask-wearing," one health expert said.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:18 AM on September 10 [16 favorites]


Unfortunately, with Trump the question is "what did he know and when did he know it, and then when did he stop knowing it?"

Well, as he knows, there are known knowns, there are things he knows he knows. He also knows there are known unknowns; that is to say he knows there are some things he does not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones he doesn't know he doesn't know.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 12:22 AM on September 10 [5 favorites]


It has been well known/widely reported that Trump was briefed on this in January

Republican Senators Burr, Loeffler, and Inhofe committed insider trading crimes, dumping stock after being briefed in early February. All these fuckers knew.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:32 AM on September 10 [69 favorites]


Burr in an op-ed on Feb. 7, addressing the unwashed masses: "the United States today is better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus.” He wrote, “No matter the outbreak or threat, Congress and the federal government have been vigilant in identifying gaps in its readiness efforts and improving its response capabilities.” (Pro Publica, March 19, 2020)

Burr speaking at the Capitol Hill Club on Feb. 27, to an exclusive group of well-connected constituents: “There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history ... It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.” He warned that companies might have to curtail their employees’ travel, that schools could close and that the military might be mobilized to compensate for overwhelmed hospitals. [...] Burr has a unique perspective on the government's response to a pandemic, and not just because of his role as Intelligence Committee chairman. He helped to write the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), which forms the framework for the federal response. (NPR, March 19, 2020)

Burr's stock sale was on Feb. 13; from his statement on March 5: "Luckily, we have a framework in place that has put us in a better position than any other country to respond to a public health threat, like the coronavirus." Well, some of us.

President Trump is urging Americans to remain calm in the face of fear about the spread of coronavirus in the U.S. "It will go away, just stay calm," Mr. Trump said of the coronavirus Tuesday. He added, "Be calm. It's really working out. And a lot of good things are going to happen." (CBS, March 10, 2020) He went to the Capitol, accompanied by Vice President Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and economic adviser Larry Kudlow, to meet with Republican lawmakers to discuss how to address the economic fallout from the spread of the coronavirus. Addressing the other COVID crisis: Corruption (The Brookings Institute, July 22, 2020)
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:19 AM on September 10 [19 favorites]


People who think that somehow the earlier release of these recordings would have had even the tiniest smidgen of an impact are as as dumb as Donald Trump.

How many times do you have to adjust your bowtie, look in the mirror, and practice your indignant "How dare you sir? Have you no regard for the office of the president?"1 before you realise that none of this matters at all?

What's the alternative? That despite repeated statements from literally everyone else in his own administration and every other expert, he didn't believe this? Is that better?

People persist in believing that he sometimes slips and says what he really thinks, that this is sloppiness on his part, when all the evidence is that he is nothing but surface. Whatever nonsensical thing is coming out of his mouth at any given moment is what he believes right at that moment but it's not linked to some kind of persistent state. He can say wildly different things hours apart not because he's lying in a conventional sense but because truth claims have no meaning to him.

The people who are going to vote for him are not going to be moved by this. The people who have ignored pandemic precautions would not have acted differently if Bob Woodward had released this information earlier. It would have sunk without any kind of trace within a single news cycle, just like it will now.

(1) Extra credit if you manage to sound like a cross between Murrow and Foghorn Leghorn while you do it.
posted by atrazine at 1:58 AM on September 10 [41 favorites]


Once again Trump shows contempt for his constituents. Contempt erodes relationships, unlike its opposite, the empathy that is an integral part of Joe Biden's personality and campaign persona, which builds them. That gives me some hope vis-a-vis the impact of Woodward's reveal on the election, even for the cultists and folks convinced Trump is a savior. After all, saviors die for their followers; cult leaders require their deaths.
posted by carmicha at 2:14 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


FallibleHuman: "Of course he thinks it was the right decision. I’m sure Comey and Mueller think they made the right calls, too. "

Eponysterical.
posted by chavenet at 2:19 AM on September 10 [6 favorites]


Trump, who cannot control his impulse to boast about his access to secret information, tried to impress Woodward by referring to a still-secret technology. “I have built a nuclear — a weapons system that nobody’s ever had in this country before,” Trump said. Woodward reports that other sources “confirmed the information, without providing further details, but expressed surprise that Trump disclosed it.”
❗ ❗ ❗
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:39 AM on September 10 [45 favorites]


there are also unknown unknowns—the ones he doesn't know he doesn't know

You respond to a pandemic with the President you have, not the functioning adult you might want or wish to have at a later time.
posted by flabdablet at 3:08 AM on September 10 [12 favorites]


Relevant: The eerie stability of Trump’s approval rating.

I wouldn't attempt to change anyone's mind on Trump at this stage: he's done all he can on that front, including encouraging his supporters to expose themselves to deadly viruses. The only hope is that his support won't carry the election.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 3:36 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


Twitter thread from Erik Wemple (WaPo media critic) on the Woodward criticism. Quoting:
"Woodward is a book author and the implicit understanding with his sources is that he'll interview them, interview them again and again and again until he can stitch together something authoritative, in book form. 2/

That method explains how he gets officials and presidents to cooperate with him. If he were doing daily dispatches and attending all the White House briefings, he wouldn't be getting 18 on-the-record interviews with President Trump. 3/

So it strikes me that the choice isn't between Woodward publishing this revelation in September and, say, March. It's between Woodward publishing this in September or not at all. 4/"
posted by soundguy99 at 3:44 AM on September 10 [13 favorites]


when i see a building on fire i wait until it's over to tell anyone because it is important to understand the overarching narrative. why is fire here? what does fire want? telling those people in the building wouldn't have changed anything about fire anyway.
posted by logicpunk at 3:53 AM on September 10 [25 favorites]


Does he still "know" any of these specific facts a month later? I don't think he really did. Self-interest motivated him to replace all of it with new rationalizations (the data is warped by testing patterns, the U.S. is somehow not like China, it will disappear in warmer weather, et cetera.)

No. No. Wrong.

He was told this information back in January and February. The fact that he talked himself into willful ignorance is beside the point and is entirely his fault.

If someone gives you important information, and what you do with that information is "try to forget it", that is 100% on you, and you can't say you "didn't know". You did know and you tried to forget. That's different, and that's worse.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:55 AM on September 10 [12 favorites]


“I have built a nuclear — a weapons system that nobody’s ever had in this country before,”

Apparently the W76-2 low-yield nuke (5–7 kt), although why you'd waste a 2-stage thermonuclear weapon on 7kt is beyond me. ( That's below the 15 kt of the uranium gun design of the "little boy" bomb dropped on Hiroshima. ), although thinking about it, if you just removed the secondary stage, then yeah, that would make sense to just use the fission trigger.
posted by mikelieman at 4:02 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]


I'm OK with Woodward keeping the book under wraps until now. The less time the GOP has to spin this before the election, the better. I only wish Woodward had responded to Trump's "But I'm a cheerleader!" comment with something like, "I thought I was talking to the quarterback. No? OK," and then hang up or walk out or whatever.
posted by emelenjr at 4:06 AM on September 10 [8 favorites]


What surprises me is that Trump, who's 74 years old and obese with Christ knows what other health problems, knowing full well how deadly the virus is and how it's transmitted, has continued to repeatedly place himself in large indoor gatherings of maskless people with no social distancing. I realise he doesn't give a shit about anyone else, but is he now so demented that he imagines he himself is immortal?
posted by Paul Slade at 4:44 AM on September 10 [9 favorites]


I realise he doesn't give a shit about anyone else, but is he now so demented that he imagines he himself is immortal?
I've noticed a lot of middle-aged and elder men imagine they are immortal. Some of them are even smart people. I don't know what it is. We are having a large outbreak at work, and I simply can't get my otherwise intelligent and empathetic boss to take it seriously...
With someone like Trump, I don't imagine he will ever think he is mortal until he actually dies.
posted by mumimor at 5:07 AM on September 10 [14 favorites]


Anybody who needs to get within 50 meters from him is tested. His reality is way different than anybody else’s.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:10 AM on September 10 [8 favorites]


With our* luck, chances are it’s not a delusion, he’s actually immortal and will never die.

humanity’s. Humanity’s terrible, terrible luck
posted by Ghidorah at 5:12 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]


I think he knows everyone he’s coming into contact with have to be tested and probably follow a very strict regime in order to be able to see him. I am assuming pandemic preparedness planning took into account how to ensure the President stays completely safe depending on availability of testing, treatments, vaccine etc...

So yeah. He feels invulnerable because he has that luxury, while his supporters go out taking their cues from him and are extremely vulnerable.

I don’t think the needle will move with them, maybe ever. This is about their inability to accept failure in the part of their leaders, and their willingness to believe outright falsehoods to continue to deny their leaders have any fault.
posted by glaucon at 5:24 AM on September 10 [6 favorites]


Way different. 15-minute, frequent testing means the pandemic's been safely over for months, if you're rich, and that's not limited to the President. I'm not a millionaire yet, but as someone's who's (and this is embarrassing and very very temporary) going to be a rich-enough-to-afford-$1000/day-for-testing-for-everyone-I-come-in-contact-with-aire, I do say the second stimulus package is looking pretty good!
posted by fragmede at 5:34 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]


Only idiots didn't know that fucking Corona Virus was transmissible via air from day one. The common cold is a variant of corona virus. OF COURSE COVID19 is transmissible via air. How could it not be? I knew this and began isolating on March 8. The bigger dereliction is that anyone didn't assume CORONA VIRUS wasn't transmissible via air, or that it wasn't transmissible by children, etc. OF COURSE it is. WHY WOULDN"T IT BE??? FUCKING IDIOTS.
posted by smcameron at 5:35 AM on September 10 [12 favorites]


His supporter cult will not budge. But maybe, just maybe this will nudge a few of the habitual non-voters to actually go and you know, vote.

Maybe. But probably not.
posted by SoberHighland at 5:43 AM on September 10


As someone who's livelihood has been threatened by the pandemic, does this mean I have standing to sue the Federal government for lost wages?
posted by fragmede at 5:48 AM on September 10 [5 favorites]


Only idiots didn't know that fucking Corona Virus was transmissible via air from day one. The common cold is a variant of corona virus. OF COURSE COVID19 is transmissible via air. How could it not be?

The fact that the common cold is a variant of coronavirus was not often mentioned in the early reporting. It still isn't. It's easy to imagine how most people believe that they're two different things, especially since a lot of people are fuzzy on how colds are transmitted anyway (some believe that it has something to do with getting wet in cold weather).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:48 AM on September 10 [8 favorites]


Correction: one of the many "common colds" is a coronavirus. Most "colds" are caused by rhinoviruses or other families of viruses. CDC:
Many different respiratory viruses can cause the common cold, but rhinoviruses are the most common. Rhinoviruses can also trigger asthma attacks and have been linked to sinus and ear infections. Other viruses that can cause colds include respiratory syncytial virus, human parainfluenza viruses, adenovirus, human coronaviruses, and human metapneumovirus.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:52 AM on September 10 [21 favorites]


Anybody who needs to get within 50 meters from him is tested. His reality is way different than anybody else’s.

While this is certainly true, don’t forget that he’s a self described germophobe who habitually has unprotected sex with porn stars. (Christ, it pains me to have to know trivia about his gross personal life.)

There’s no reason to expect logical consistency from a walking sack of ego. The only constant belief we can count on from him is that the world ceases to exist when he closes his eyes.
posted by rock swoon has no past at 6:07 AM on September 10 [9 favorites]


I figure Woodward justified it to himself this way: "If I keep this guy talking, who knows what he'll reveal. Maybe it will be enough to contribute to his non-re-election. There's no other way to get rid of the guy. Meanwhile, if I blow this thing up now he clams up and what is gained? Is there anyone who believes this guy is not lying his pants off already?"

It's not an airtight argument, but it's reasonably compelling. And the fact is we live in a Bizarro World where the Access Hollywood tape seems to have actually helped the guy. Anyhoo, I'll be phone banking today.
posted by rikschell at 6:09 AM on September 10 [8 favorites]


So libs are blaming Woodward and the right is blaming Lindsay Graham.

Kill the messenger!
posted by terrapin at 6:18 AM on September 10 [5 favorites]


we're not BLAMING Woodward but when my 65 year old mother came in from the living room this morning caroling "Woodward rocking the boat again!!" I reminded her that he rocked the boat too late for 190,000 people because it would make him a few more bucks, and apparently this country only makes shameless grifters.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 6:31 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


Just because they're shameless grifters on OUR side doesn't make them not-that.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 6:32 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Kill the messenger!

If the messenger takes five months to deliver, I'm going to reserve the right to at least give them some side eye.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:32 AM on September 10 [13 favorites]


The Access Hollywood tape absolutely did not help him. That is revisionist history. The tape crushed him, even with Republican politicians and elites who were on the verge of withdrawing support right and left, there was rampant speculation that Pence would either drop off the ticket or be forced to take over the top spot, and then the coordinated Wikileaks drop swept Access Hollywood out of the immediate news cycle.

Stop thinking nothing matters. If you think that, they can get away with literally anything. The issue with Woodward suppressing this is not that Trump knew the virus was deadly, it's that he is ON TAPE admitting to downplaying its severity. You think that couldn't have had some effect if it was out there as the country was locked down in March and April, as thousands of people dying? You think it couldn't have changed the narrative in any way? No chance whatsoever?

The goddamn cynicism lets them thrive.
posted by Gadarene at 6:40 AM on September 10 [39 favorites]


You think that couldn't have had some effect if it was out there as the country was locked down in March and April, as thousands of people dying? You think it couldn't have changed the narrative in any way? No chance whatsoever?

Well lucky for you half the damn place is still locked down and thousands are STILL dying, so we'll have a chance to test your hypothesis.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 6:44 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


Trump, who cannot control his impulse to boast about his access to secret information, tried to impress Woodward by referring to a still-secret technology.

I shudder to think what he is boasting about to Putin, who he really wants to impress. :(
posted by Pouteria at 6:47 AM on September 10 [14 favorites]


I would have thought that the lesson that the hard-core con voters are not moved by shame, evidence or compassion would be blindingly obvious by now. I'm surprised to see there are many that think appeals to better nature in any form might work.
posted by bonehead at 6:52 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]


When I first heard the COVID part of this story break, I thought, oh, well, Trump thought COVID-19 was dangerous for a few moments between the time he heard a national security assessment to the time his advisers told him that it was nothing but another flu season and everything else was an exaggeration and conspiracy.

I still find it hard to believe that he maintained a coherent understanding of the situation for the length of time in which he poured out all his lies.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:06 AM on September 10 [8 favorites]


I'm so glad we'll have Woodward's book and Bolton's book and Cohen's book to read here in lockdown. Great storytelling, A+++!
posted by Dashy at 7:07 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Some common colds, SARS, MERS, and COVID-19 may all technically be coronaviruses, but that doesn’t mean they’re all the same or that they all spread the same way. For one thing, not all colds are even coronaviruses. A cold is just a generic term for a non-serious upper respiratory infection, it’s not like the flu which is actually a type of virus. Also, COVID-19 is much more closely related to SARS than to any coronavirus that causes colds. Finally, everyone knew that you could be exposed by a cough or sneeze, the question was whether just breathing in the same space was a rare or a common route of infection. This was a controversial question for SARS and even for cold and flu because the only way to really test it is by deliberately trying to infect people, so it is very hard to prove that it is happening. Public health dogma was very fixated on fomite and short range transmission because it was relatively easy to show that these did happen.

So the people I blame most for not taking aerosol transmission seriously enough as a possibility are at the WHO, who maintained that fomites and large droplets were the only significant means of contagion long after there was credible evidence of aerosol spread. Apparently scientists who tried to present evidence to the contrary were quite literally shouted down in these meetings. If they weren’t listening to highly credentialed people presenting credible evidence, it is hard to imagine that they would have listened to Woodward leaking a statement by notoriously unreliable non-scientist Donald Trump.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:12 AM on September 10 [15 favorites]


Also, look at it this way:

If one person who's got damaging information about Trump makes it public at the first opportunity rather than saving it for their book, then maybe it doesn't make a difference. Maybe. (I'm sure the Ukrainian whistleblower could have found a nice book contract down the line.) But if ALL the people who have damaging information about Trump make it public rather than saving it for THEIR books...well. Imagine the things that people associated with this administration have seen and heard. Imagine the details that aren't unaired. Imagine the things that the other access journalists have heard. Calling dead soldiers losers and suckers would be the least of it. Remember the improperly classified conversations with MBS, with Erdogan, with Putin? Just the smallest tip of the iceberg, and we never even got to learn more about them. Think of all the things that people could say if there was social pressure to do so rather than to ink a book deal?

Making excuses for Woodward normalizes the suppression of knowledge of atrocities in pursuit of personal profit. Period.
posted by Gadarene at 7:19 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


Maybe this has been answered but why was Trump still talking to Woodward after his first book came out?
posted by Liquidwolf at 7:23 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Stop thinking nothing matters. If you think that, they can get away with literally anything. The issue with Woodward suppressing this is not that Trump knew the virus was deadly, it's that he is ON TAPE admitting to downplaying its severity.

The official campaign season kicked off just on Labor Day. This entire week, Trump has entirely lost control of the narrative, and it doesn't look like the flood of awful news is likely to stop any time soon. Why would it?

If the election is a referendum on Trump, he loses. Revelations like the ones this week don't amount to a "surely, this" moment, but they do keep Trump from controlling the narrative and at least so far they've been so awful they've kept the so-called "liberal media" from ginning up nonsense about Biden for "balance."

Indeed, the inability to manufacture phony balance may be the factor that keeps the media's focus on Trump from benefiting him as it did in 2016.
posted by Gelatin at 7:23 AM on September 10 [24 favorites]


Chilling to consider:
How many times in the 30 days after February 7th did you unknowingly put yourself in crowds & close proximity to others when #TrumpKnew?
--Andy Slavitt on twitter.
posted by Dashy at 7:41 AM on September 10 [5 favorites]


Gelatin: This entire week, Trump has entirely lost control of the narrative, and it doesn't look like the flood of awful news is likely to stop any time soon.

For a guy who is said to thrive on chaos, he surely isn't thriving this week. I wonder if he'll be abler to wrest control back, or if he'll stay down -- thereby indicating whether he's really been doing all the chaos-making on purpose (i.e., he's crafty), or if it's just instinctual (has no control over anything).
posted by wenestvedt at 7:42 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]


why was Trump still talking to Woodward after his first book came out?

Read the CNN article I linked above.

Once again Trump shows contempt for his constituents. Contempt erodes relationships

But there's one key exception: people caught in the security of a psychologically codependent abusive relationship. Those people respond very well to the notion "you're weak and vulnerable; I alone can save you, and I do it by humiliating others, attacking the enemies who have even more contempt for you than I do ("I love my people"), acting tough, pretending to draw secure lines that will protect you, etc." And when it comes to contempt - as we see when 45 publicly humiliates his staff - it is interpreted as a loyalty test and/or as personal shame, motivating the person to get back into good graces.

This is the entire secret of Trump's appeal to a big chunk of that unshifting 40%, the MAGA crowd - he has closely plugged into the neurology of a lot of people who are deeply fearful at a physical level and who respond to authoritarian presence. Not much can dislodge this.
posted by Miko at 7:42 AM on September 10 [29 favorites]


I'm from Canada, and from my vantage point, it seems to me that Woodward's revelations, though horrifying, are essentially meaningless, as there are very few undecided voters left out there. The pro-Trump crowd have hardened their views so much that there is literally nothing that he could do that could change their minds. And everybody else is already aware of how horrible a person he is.

The real questions are:

- How many people are actually on the pro-Trump side?

- Whether the Democrats can overcome all of the obstacles that the Trumpists put in their path (gerrymandering, voter suppression, ballot box fraud, post office cutbacks, loud repetition of bald-faced lies) and get enough of the vote out to obtain a victory decisive enough to overcome any possible accusations of illegitimacy.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 7:52 AM on September 10 [10 favorites]


Maybe this has been answered but why was Trump still talking to Woodward after his first book came out?

The first book was done without Trump's participation. Trump thought that if he did speak with Woodward, that it would "set the record straight" and he'd look better.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:56 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


And the fact is we live in a Bizarro World where the Access Hollywood tape seems to have actually helped the guy.

I’m still in the camp that Hillary calling people Deplorables made it harder for them to leave Trump when that Access Hollywood tape dropped. There were already twists of logic to support him and a fanatical cult-like air of their ready devotion, but I truly believe it was cemented for them when they were demonized by Hillary.

Not excusing their behavior or support of him, but it’s important to note that Biden has been very careful not to demonize Trump’s supporters in the same way, likely to leave room for change or even to allow some small percent of his base to leave him or lose enthusiasm.

I’ve thought “surely this” hundreds of times though. They are committed, and the violent rhetoric on the right is getting very disturbing.
posted by glaucon at 7:57 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]


Let's not get too excited about Tr*mp having a week of bad news. We have almost eight weeks to go until election day, and the media need *change* for there to be a story, so I expect there will be one or two more full cycles of "he had a good week/he had a bad week" before this is over.
posted by PhineasGage at 8:21 AM on September 10 [6 favorites]


No such thing as bad press.
posted by Chickenring at 8:33 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Stop thinking nothing matters. If you think that, they can get away with literally anything. The issue with Woodward suppressing this is not that Trump knew the virus was deadly, it's that he is ON TAPE admitting to downplaying its severity. You think that couldn't have had some effect if it was out there as the country was locked down in March and April, as thousands of people dying? You think it couldn't have changed the narrative in any way? No chance whatsoever?

The reason nothing matters when it comes to Trump is because his supporters are so galvanized and they hold their elected officials hostage in order to keep Trump in power no matter what. Nothing matters, at least from a practical perspective, because he will never be held to account so why would any revelation or narrative make him act in any way that may not be in the interests of DJT?

All we can expect is for his base to be chipped away at when some people finally hit their limit and snap out of it. The best thing we can do to fix the immediate situation is to outvote the fucker in numbers too big to ignore.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:34 AM on September 10 [8 favorites]


outvote the fucker in numbers too big to ignore.

This is essential - my belief is that Trump will declare victory on Election night no matter what the status of the vote count isat that time. If he is losing, he is going to kick off the "election was rigged" process right then. If he's losing by a huge margin, this will be patently ridiculous; he needs a close election to have a chance of success with this kind of power grab.
posted by thelonius at 8:43 AM on September 10 [20 favorites]


Trump's rabid core base may keep supporting him, but information like this can motivate people not in his base to get out and vote, and it can demotivate non-rabid Republicans and increase the likelihood they'll just stay home. Roy Moore proved that it is possible to depress Republican turnout through demoralization.
posted by schroedinger at 8:50 AM on September 10 [6 favorites]


Also, check out the front page of the NYT today. Does it demand Trump’s resignation? Does it have a huge headline about “TRUMP LIED, AMERICANS DIED”?

No. It has a breakdown of the Lebanon explosion and a small column on his “downplaying the virus” written by his old standby, Maggie Haberman.

Paper of record, ladies, gentlemen, and those betwixt.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 8:54 AM on September 10 [29 favorites]


We only have a few weeks left for Trump to:
1) drop doctored video of Biden/Harris
2) do wikileaks style email hacks
3) release an untested and unsafe vaccine
4) bomb Iran
5) get Barr to charge Biden/Clinton with the murder of Jeffrey Epstein according to the tenets of Q
6) get some cops killed so he can do another crackdown

GOTV and make it a blue wave, we have no idea what's coming down the pipe.
posted by benzenedream at 8:56 AM on September 10 [20 favorites]


My problem with Woodward here is that from literally any standpoint except maximizing his book sales the timing is awful even if we take it as a given that nothing will sway the Republicans (which I do).

If Woodward had released the tapes earlier it might have had some power to persuade governors to take better measures, or kept Trump from totally ruining the American response.

If he released the tapes closer to the election it could be a bit of an October/November surprise that might have provided a bit more rage to get more Democrats out voting (again, I maintain that Trump could literally eat a live baby at a rally and he wouldn't lose any votes).

Instead he chose to sit on the info for long enough it can't influence the US COVID response, but not long enough for it to be of any electoral benefit.

The actual revelation is utterly unsurprising. Trump is a vile scumbag and we already know he maliciously encouraged the spread of COVID during the initial phases because he thought it would make Democratic governors look bad (and kill some Democrats as a bonus).

schroedinger I am not convinced any non-rabid Republicans exist in any numbers to make a difference. At this point everyone knows how awful Trump is, the information is out there, anyone choosing to support him in September of 2020 is pretty much by definition a rabid Republican.

If any non-rabid existed they would have long since abandoned the Republican Party, and polling shows that if they did it didn't happen in sufficient numbers to be worth noting.
posted by sotonohito at 9:00 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]


People overwhelmingly tie political party to identity, not to facts. Leaving a particular party means not only questioning the fundamentals of your identity but potentially deviating from the habits and identities of your entire community. In the age of extreme polarization switching parties is not a small thing. Switching parties is also predicated on an involvement in politics and news that most of the population simply does not have; people just do not thing about this stuff that much.

Staying home can be an act of voicing displeasure without risking ostracization or identity crisis. Or it can also reflect that a person simply just does not want to try for an outcome as hard as they would otherwise.

At this point everyone knows how awful Trump is, the information is out there

They're watching Fox News. They're not looking elsewhere for the information about exactly how awful he is. They are busy with their lives and simply do not care enough to do so.

The Republicans who stayed home instead of voting for Roy Moore did not stop being Republicans, they absorbed just enough bad information about him for them to not want to take the time to vote. I don't think we can assume there are no Republicans who feel the same way about Trump. There is "this guy is kind of shit, I don't really feel like going out in the rain and voting" and then "This guy is a threat to humanity, I have to actively vote for his opponent". I don't think we're going to get many of the latter, but I think the former is possible.
posted by schroedinger at 9:22 AM on September 10 [20 favorites]


One of my neighbors -- he of the 20-acre hilltop fastness and loose-roaming dogs -- put up a sign just last week that says "Deplorables for Trump."

He's proud of "being a self-made man," and I don't think dicks like that are waiting for Biden to tell them what to think of themselves, nor are they planning to switch their vote to the Democrats this time.

(The worst part is that his driveway emerges from the trees next to the lawn of a local teacher, who now carries the burden of appearing to be the owner of the sign.)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:25 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]




Everyone is probably already decided on who their voting for so all the dirty tricks, fake videos, October surprises, and negative revelations about Trump won't really matter. The only thing that matters is having Biden officially declared the winner.
posted by Liquidwolf at 9:40 AM on September 10


What's with Tucker and Graham? Are the Republicans now into circular firing squads too?
Maybe that can be encouraged.

My wife did some 'persuasion texting' last week. I think it was 400 texts, and although as usual there was not a big response, there was a lot of strong feeling, and she heard from no one 'on the fence'.
posted by MtDewd at 9:40 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


wenestvedt The part where the sign is positioned in such a way as to deflect blame to a third party is the most Republican part of the whole situation. They express their odious political view and any negative externalities are pushed off to a poorer person who won't have the means to deal with them.
posted by sotonohito at 9:42 AM on September 10 [5 favorites]


What's with Tucker and Graham? Are the Republicans now into circular firing squads too?

Graham was the one who originally convinced Trump to sit down with Woodward.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 9:45 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Graham’s up for re-election, so if they want to do some denouncing they should feel free.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 10:08 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]


I’m still in the camp that Hillary calling people Deplorables made it harder for them to leave Trump when that Access Hollywood tape dropped. There were already twists of logic to support him and a fanatical cult-like air of their ready devotion, but I truly believe it was cemented for them when they were demonized by Hillary.

I will never stop defending that speech.

She very specifically said that some of his supporters were awful racists, and the rest were genuine, good people who were fed up with government and economic policies and were looking for an outsider candidate who would shake things up.

Every last Trump supporter could have chosen to self-identify with the latter category. To say, "nah, I'm not with him for bigotry, I'm with him because the "Washington Insiders" don't have me in mind." They leaned in to the label. The folks who "were demonized" were already with Trump for 100% racist reasons.

All the label did was give them a fig leaf euphemism for "proudly racist", and yeah, they lied and redefined it to say that Hillary thought they were all deplorable, but if they didn't lie about that, they'd lie about something else.
posted by explosion at 10:21 AM on September 10 [57 favorites]


As much as Woodword's holding onto his information, and his not so compelling excuse, grate, it's certainly preferable to release this info closer to Election Day than six months before.

It's impossible to remember all the horrors, and way too many people don't even try.

I expect to see an ongoing list of atrocities to bubble up a couple of times a week for the next two months.
posted by nothing.especially.clever at 10:25 AM on September 10 [6 favorites]


She very specifically said that some of his supporters were awful racists, and the rest were genuine, good people who were fed up with government and economic policies and were looking for an outsider candidate who would shake things up.

And the so-called "liberal media" characterized the speech not for what it was, but for what the right-wing media said it was. Not for the first or last time.

If I worked in media, I'd make reading the Drudge Report a firing offense.
posted by Gelatin at 10:25 AM on September 10 [9 favorites]


Trump made conscious choices that killed 200k+ Americans.

But the left is blaming Woodward and relitigating 2016.

And the right is blaming a kompromatised Senator who had nothing to do with the other 16 interviews Trump chose to have with Woodward.

Meanwhile, the media is working to get this story off the front page as fast as it can.

Partly because they know they failed to protect the public interest, when there was a slim chance the virus could have been contained.

Mostly, because they know we are fighting amongst ourselves over bullshit distractions, while Trump killed 200k+ Americans.

The tragedy is the nothing will change from his admission of mass murder.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:32 AM on September 10 [27 favorites]


For an illuminating perspective, it's terrifying and helpful to read this op-ed by a Brazilian author who watched several months of Bolsonaro's bonkers daily broadcasts and learned that, just as with Trump, "happiness is a matter of choice."
posted by PhineasGage at 10:34 AM on September 10


but is he now so demented that he imagines he himself is immortal?

"...now..."?
posted by notsnot at 10:45 AM on September 10 [5 favorites]


The fact that the common cold is a variant of coronavirus was not often mentioned in the early reporting.

The BBC had numerous stories about a mysterious new virus in early January, and the reporting was quite clear about the link between colds and coronavirus. Jan 9: "Coronaviruses can cause different diseases, ranging from the common cold to much more severe ones such as Sars and Mers." See also Jan 3, Jan 14, Jan 23.
posted by oulipian at 10:51 AM on September 10 [7 favorites]


@Teri_Kanefield Do you think that if trump had admitted the facts about Covid in February he would have been forced to take more proactive, life- saving actions?"
Teri Kanefield's thread of "Lordy, There Are Tapes"
4/ Trump believed that a strong economy would get him elected, so he resisted proactive steps that would spook the markets. Fox backed him up.
msn.com/en-us/tv/news/…

The Trump-Fox-GOP disregards facts and makes up what they need.
It was clear from the start that Trump and the GOP were prepared to sacrifice whatever was necessary to ensure the economic message would be their talking point since they were too fucking incompetent to actually stop the pandemic. Exposing that Trump knew how bad SARS-CoV-2 was back in February wouldn't change that impetus one iota. It wouldn't have suddenly generated competence in the administration.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:54 AM on September 10 [7 favorites]


I am not convinced any non-rabid Republicans exist in any numbers to make a difference. At this point everyone knows how awful Trump is, the information is out there, anyone choosing to support him in September of 2020 is pretty much by definition a rabid Republican.

I think you are massively overestimating the number of people who pay even minimal attention to "politics", and thus massively underestimaing the number who have nothing but the vaugest idea of what Trump has done and said, who view Trump as a more-or-less normal President who's maybe a little ruder and cruder than most and had some bad luck and made bad choices of subordinates.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:14 AM on September 10 [17 favorites]


The thing to remember about Donald is that he's not lying: he thinks he can make things true just by saying them. In simple terms, people analyse him as a kind of Red Skull, in his mind he's more Wanda Maximoff (we don't say her name, pretender!)
posted by signal at 11:19 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]


China quarantined entire cities on Jan. 23, and announced asymptomatic transmission of the virus on Jan 26 (Trump apparently found out two days later in a "top secret intelligence briefing"). The WHO declared a global health emergency on Jan. 30, by which time the virus had spread to 16 countries, including the US and the UK. Italy declared a six-month state of emergency on Feb. 4.

The idea that Bob Woodward had some secret knowledge in February that would have saved lives is kind of silly. Anyone paying attention knew how quickly things were escalating.
posted by oulipian at 11:34 AM on September 10 [38 favorites]


Graham didn't convince him of anything; Kushner encouraged talking with Woodward, too, and was interviewed himself.

Another headline from yesterday: there's a new whistleblower in town, the former Acting Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis in the Department of Homeland Security, Brian Murphy (he joined the FBI in 1998 and has held several gov't intelligence-analysis positions; he was also in the Marine Corps). Murphy says senior Trump officials "politicized, manipulated, and censored intelligence" to benefit Trump. Schiff's asked him to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on September 21. That invitation includes sections of the Sept. 8 complaint. At CBS: Whistleblower says top DHS officials tried to stifle intel reports on Russian interference.

Specifically, Murphy claims that between March 2018 and August 2020, he repeatedly complained that security leaders were undercutting intelligence that showed Russia was working to undermine the United States (and inflate China and Iran efforts), that former Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen was lying to Congress during her testimony (providing "inaccurate and highly inflated claims of known or suspected terrorists entering the United States through the southwest border"), and that this year, he was ordered to modify intelligence reports to diminish white supremacist terrorism and ensure assessments "matched up with the public comments by President Trump on the subject of ANTIFA and ‘anarchist’ groups.” (Letters from an American) NPR's Ailsa Chang speaks with Mark Zaid, the attorney for Department of Homeland Security Brian Murphy. He says his client was told to avoid intelligence assessments on Russia and white supremacists. As touched upon in the NPR piece, expect Murphy's complaint to be attributed to sour grapes: DHS official Brian Murphy removed from position amid reports his office compiled intel on journalists and protesters (CBS, Aug. 1, 2020)

Cadet Bone Spurs and dereliction of duty:
If Trump doesn't act on Russia, could be dereliction of duty - Schiff (CNN, June 28, 2017)
Trump Coronavirus Response "Unacceptable and a Dereliction of Duty"- Congressman Ted Lieu (March 9, 2020)
Biden Calls Trump’s Inaction on Russia a ‘Dereliction of Duty’ (US News & World Report, June 30)
'A dereliction of duty': Former CIA director says Trump has gone 'Awol' in handling of coronavirus (The Independent, July 4, 2020) "We have a president that is not willing to stand up and do what is necessary in order to lead this country."
Carl Bernstein: Republicans 'Responsible' if They Don't 'Counter' Trump's 'Dereliction of Duty' After Woodward Tapes (Newsweek, Sept. 10)
Trump's historic dereliction of duty laid bare (CNN, Sept. 10, 2020) The President's refusal to inform his nation of a building threat and instinct to keep comparing the disease to the flu as late as the end of March -- when he knew it was a lie -- show he flunked his date with destiny. [...] "Our entire response has been hampered by the mixed messaging that President Trump has had," said Dr. Leana Wen, former Baltimore health commissioner and a CNN medical analyst. "And now we know that this mixed messaging is not just wrong, it's deliberately misleading. And that's extremely distressing," Wen told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "I think about all of the patients I've treated who have lost their lives or who have recovered but have long-term effects because of Covid-19."[...]

William Haseltine, one of America's most respected health care professionals, who is now chairman and president of ACCESS Health International, a global health nonprofit, laid a devastating charge about the cost of Trump's negligence. "How many people could have been saved out of the 190,000 who have died? My guess is 180,000 of those," he told Blitzer. "We have killed 180,000 of our fellow Americans because we have not been honest with the truth. We have not planned, and even today we're ignoring the threat that lies ahead."
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:38 AM on September 10 [9 favorites]


"Trump played down the pandemic, but voters may have figured that out already" (SF Chronicle)
...most voters in battleground states didn’t need to hear Trump’s duplicity — on tape — to make up their minds about his handling of the pandemic. They made up their minds months ago — and that’s why Trump trails in most battleground states.
posted by PhineasGage at 11:44 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


I have a Bob Woodward story!

Bob Woodward's lack of journalist integrity - in this specific case, his failure to protect his sources - is responsible for my father's employer in the 80's demoting him out of retaliation. It's kind of a good story, if you care to read about it.

To protect the innocent, I'm going to be vague about certain details.

So, in the early to mid 80's, my mom and dad worked together at the same public facility  (read: tax-dollar funded/gov). At that time Bob Woodward was the editor of the Washington Post's Metro section, which covers local news in the DC metro area - in other words DC, southern Maryland and northern Virginia.

The public facility employing my parents was demanding that my parents and their colleagues work excessive overtime without pay. We're talking upwards of 60-70 hours a week in an office with people just sleeping on the couches at the facility. Because this unpaid overtime was not legal, my father - who was a supervisor, but not high up enough to be able to do anything about the unpaid overtime - decided to call The Washington Post with the hope that they'd investigate it. 

Whoever he spoke to at WaPo said, "I'm going to connect you to Bob Woodward." My Dad, when telling this story, loves to pepper in at this point, "Bob Woodward? She said it to me like I should have been impressed. I was not impressed."

Dad is the type of person who records stuff if he's concerned something may come back to bite him in the ass, and he already had a recorder set up on the phone. (Both my Dad and Woodward were located in a jurisdiction where audio recordings were subject only to a one-party consent law, so yes, it was legal for him to do this.) He recorded his entire conversation with Woodward. Woodward kept assuring him, "Yes, yes, we'll protect your identity. No one will know that you were the source or that someone in your specific department or your specific job title was the source. We will keep you anonymous and not make reference to your relationship to the [public facility]." This is ALL CAPTURED ON THE AUDIO RECORDINGS. Woodward was not the author of the story, of course, but he was the Metro section editor and fully participated in the story's investigation, in conversations with my father, and in editing the final story prior to publication. The author of the story had made the same assurances to my father about protecting his identity.

The following week, the story broke in the Washington Post's Metro section. The first line of the article? "A shift supervisor working at the [____X____] department of [facility] located in [_____Y____] has provided the Post with documentation showing that [public facility] has been requiring employees to regularly work overtime without additional compensation or overtime pay."

Dad goes into work. His boss calls him in and says he's demoting him. He would not provide a reason and my Dad's performance up to that moment had been pristine- flying colors. Odd that they'd demote him, especially right after that story hit, yeah?

Then my mom is called in for her monthly "performance review." Mom had always had 10/10 perfect performance marks. They rated her a 1 across the board. This was clearly another form of retaliation to anger and intimidate my father, who was already married to my Mom at that point. (If you're curious, I wasn't born for at least another year or two after this.)

Dad, needless to say, was pissed.

He hired an employment lawyer to sue his employer for wage theft as well as wrongful demotion. As you'd expect, the lawyer was expensive and the process was time consuming.

Dad - and I'm not sure ultimately how he came to the conclusion to do this - somehow got a phone number for Katherine Graham's son, William Graham. He called him at his house at 6AM and explained what had happened. He explained that he had audio recordings of Woodward telling him that he'd protect him as a source, despite later failing to conceal his identity which led to the retaliation he was now dealing with. He said he was already fighting his employer in court and that none of this would have happened if Woodward would have ensured that his identity was better concealed in the article.

William agreed with my Dad and apologized. He asked Dad, "How much are your legal fees?" and offered to have his attorneys arrange a monetary settlement with Dad in exchange for signing a release/NDA agreeing not to speak publicly about the incident and releasing the Washington Post of any liability. 

Dad needed money for his legal fees, so he signed it.

When I was growing up, he told me the story and shared the audio recordings. Later, in college, I wanted to go into journalism and mentioned to my Dad that since he couldn't go public about what happened thanks to the NDA, maybe I could do it instead. Dad said to me: "Nope. Don't. Bob Woodward would eat you alive."

Well, fuck Bob Woodward and fuck NDAs. 

The point is, the man isn't a shining beacon of journalistic integrity. He's a chump who was in the right place at the right time. What he did this time around, re: Trump and coronavirus, is nothing new. 

Go ahead and defend him if you want. But unless you've dealt with him personally, or know someone who has been personally victimized by him, it's worth reconsidering if you have enough information to say with conviction that the man is ethical.

***Also. If you're asking what the article should have said instead of referring to my dad's title, department and job's geographic location, the answer is: "...said [a] source[s] familiar with the matter..." like what we see now. Protecting sources is of paramount importance. It's non-negotiable.
posted by nightrecordings at 12:18 PM on September 10 [76 favorites]


I don't necessarily think that "Fuck Woodward" negates the "Fuck Trump". I personally happen to skew more to the "Fuck Trump" side of things.

Now, Michael Cohen is another matter; him I want to see tarred and feathered.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:27 PM on September 10 [8 favorites]


The reason nothing matters when it comes to Trump is because his supporters are so galvanized and they hold their elected officials hostage in order to keep Trump in power no matter what

Except that's not even the point, in my opinion.

Fuck whether releasing the tape would've affected the election or not, because I think the likelihood is extremely low to nonexistent.

But I 100% believe that if this tape were out, there would've been a LOT of Trump supporters who would've softpedaled their COVID denial a bit. They might have actually done the "take him seriously but don't take him literally" thing and still supported him but be a bit more responsible with regard to exposing themselves or others, because they would've known his denials were a wink-and-a-nod rather than honest.

I seriously find it impossible to believe that had Woodward released the tape of Trump saying he would downplay it that we would have exactly the same death toll as we have today.
posted by tclark at 12:34 PM on September 10 [7 favorites]


I don't necessarily think that "Fuck Woodward" negates the "Fuck Trump". I personally happen to skew more to the "Fuck Trump" side of things.

Now, Michael Cohen is another matter; him I want to see tarred and feathered.


If I am correct that you are saying this in reply to my story about Woodward, then that's a very peculiar reading of said story. At no point did I say or even attempt to imply that it negates "Fuck Trump." I'm a leftist, I hate Trump as much as anyone else (as does my Dad!)

Have you ever actually read about what happens to someone when they're tarred and feathered? It's more cruel and inhumane than it sounds.
posted by nightrecordings at 12:41 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


If I am correct that you are saying this in reply to my story about Woodward, then that's a very peculiar reading of said story.

I was speaking to the rest of the room, actually; you have a definite legit beef with the dude, in my opinion. It seems like everyone else is focusing more on how he handled this particular issue, and is talking about it to the exclusion of what Trump has done.

Have you ever actually read about what happens to someone when they're tarred and feathered? It's more cruel and inhumane than it sounds.

Oh, I have. That's why I said what I said.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:53 PM on September 10 [6 favorites]


In the spirit of "Yes, and..." I'll ask, EmpressCallipygos, why the deep animus toward Michael Cohen?
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:02 PM on September 10


In the spirit of "Yes, and..." I'll ask, EmpressCallipygos, why the deep animus toward Michael Cohen?

People are throwing shade on Bob Woodward for simply not coming forward with what he knew sooner. But Michael Cohen didn't just fail to come forward, he enabled Trump's misdeeds by covering them up, before then coming forward with a crocodile tears tell-all. "Trump's dangerous," he's telling all of us, but my response to that is "yeah, and you helped him get where he is."

No quarter from me for that man and his hypocrisy. None. I mean, Trump's still down in the lowest circle of my version of hell, but Cohen's like next-lowest.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:07 PM on September 10 [21 favorites]


but Cohen's like next-lowest.

8th Circle, at least by Dante.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:44 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


i dunno. by dantean standards, isn't cohen (certainly a circle-eight fraudster) a traitor to his benefactor as much as that other guy (who, incidentally, also appears to qualify for all the other circles, too) is a traitor to his countrypersons if not also country?

we're gonna need a bigger vat of pitch.
posted by 20 year lurk at 2:03 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


Trump hasn't pardoned Cohen, so he can't be that bad.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:37 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


Cohen was out of favor (and a job) by summer 2018. But Trump never suffers from a shortage of boils on his ass, and everyone in those top seekrit meetings last winter has supported his genocidal approach to crisis management.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:01 PM on September 10


The thing to remember about Donald is that he's not lying: he thinks he can make things true just by saying them.
Yes, that, but also he's the ultimate Zenmaster. For him, neither the past nor the future exists, just an endless and glorious now. What he said 20 seconds ago doesn't matter. What he'll say 20 seconds from now doesn't matter; will that even be him saying the things or will he 20 seconds from now already have ascended to heaven on a pillar of golden fire? Very likely by then he will be God or maybe something better than God, thus only now and what he is saying now matters, and what he is saying now matters more than anything that has ever been said or ever will be said by any person in our history with the possible exception of Honest Abe when he was wearing the hat.
posted by Don Pepino at 3:59 PM on September 10 [6 favorites]


Trump's base may have hardened above and beyond reason. Some of their children will figure out hypocrisy and won't no matter how 100% all-in they might be right now. I am an example of that.

John Birch influenced and pro-life fed (we're talking the 1970's), I began seeing cracks of hypocrisy in my family and church. I then saw how history could be manipulated. By the time I was 18, I thought the only job I could do was being involved in advertising. The story is little more complex than what I am writing as their influential hooks were in deep.

Gore Vidal's 1982 campaign for U.S. Senate crystallized this change. Someone was speaking to what I was seeing with my own eyes and, most importantly, to my own intelligence. And it was the many degrees of influence of outside culture that helped get me out of this bubble.

I guess the change was complete having a phone conversation 15 years ago with my 85 yo mother. When she asked me, 'Are you worshipping the devil?", my reply through my incredulous laughter, was, "Mom, I just called to say hi!"

The world doesn't end with Trumps base.
posted by goalyeehah at 3:59 PM on September 10 [5 favorites]


I doubt this will have any effect on Trump's polling, and I doubt it would have had any effect in February. But, that's not the most important effect reporting this in February or March could have had. Effects on the mass public are generally tiny, but effects on elites are real, and in turn can have massive effects on the public. A few weeks or even days of Republican leaders having to deal with Trump saying it was deadly and airborne before they inevitably settled on a story and closed ranks could have made a difference. Even a single Republican governor shutting down a few days earlier could have saved thousands of lives, and even a slight shift in White House policy towards taking this seriously, even for just a few days, in March could also have saved thousands of lives. It's an unusual case, because the exponential nature of this disease back then means than even tiny changes in messaging and elite policy could have had huge effects on lives saved or lost. But given that exponential effect, even the sort of drop-in-the-bucket revelation that would never sway public opinion directly could have potentially affected thousands of lives had it happened last spring.
posted by chortly at 4:57 PM on September 10 [6 favorites]


The best thing we can do to fix the immediate situation is to outvote the fucker in numbers too big to ignore.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock


And then do it again next election. And the one after that. And the one after that. And for the rest of your lives.

Those who don't front up and do what has to be done this time, forfeit forever any right to complain about how fucked it all is.

And if Trump keeps his grip on power, it is going to be very fucked indeed.
posted by Pouteria at 5:17 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


I just find it so weird that Trump would just willingly talk to Bob Woodward about anything...

The man loves gossip. It is his favorite thing in the world.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:55 PM on September 10


The world doesn't end with Trumps base.

It might.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:27 PM on September 10 [3 favorites]


effects on elites are real

The elites knew this already, as well. This was known and being discussed openly by anyone who knew anything. There is really nothing about anything Trump was saying on the tapes that was news to them. Of course, the general sense was "why isn't he taking this more seriously," but it's not like they didn't know it was serious. Everyone at that end of society did!

Before COVID, I used to commute to work with the executive leaders of many Wall Street firms and International banks, the kinds of people who make half a million a year on up. Those employers started cancelling travel and making all US meetings remote in January, and were sending their people home t0 work by early-February. By March 1 the passenger numbers were 25% of former. By March 6 they were almost non-existent. Those firms were protecting their human investment - based on the same information Trump (and we) had access to.

Elites knew already and did what they had to do (at great cost I might add), unless they chose to serve as ideological serfs to 45.

As far as what GOP governors chose to do? That's on them. They had the same access to information that the governors of NY, NJ and CT did. And they had the same levers of power.
posted by Miko at 7:55 PM on September 10 [12 favorites]


I'm not sure whether this is what you are saying, but it's funny, it never even occurred to me to imagine that the Republican governors might be deciding policy based on learning new information or their own judgment of the severity of the disease. I was just speculating that during the brief period when Trump would say "of course I meant it" about the revealed tape, the Republican elites would be forced to follow along, before the inevitable "of course I didn't mean it" that would shortly follow.
posted by chortly at 9:29 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


Sorry if this is a derail, but it's tangentially related. During a press conference Trump is having issues with a reporter who asked him why he lied. Skipping all that for now, I can't help but be focused on the flag on the left of the screen. It looks like there is a red and white stripe running through the field of stars. Is that just an optical illusion? Something else? Video here. Screen grab here.
posted by sardonyx at 9:35 PM on September 10


"It looks like there is a red and white stripe running through the field of stars. Is that just an optical illusion? Something else?"

It's a big long tassel. It's like a formal outfit for the flagpole. They can be gold or they can be red, white, and blue -- as that one is.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:39 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


I've seen tassels on flags before, but I guess just the way that one is hanging and the way the shot is framed makes it look like something it's not. Thanks Eyebrows McGee. (Honestly, with all of the weird conspiracy stuff that gets floated around Trump, I was almost willing to accept it was some sort of QAnon version of a flag that one of his lackeys slipped into the shot.)
posted by sardonyx at 9:45 PM on September 10


Via @heerjeet on twitter:

Mr. Woodward’s rather eerie aversion to engaging the ramifications of what people say to him," -- Joan Didion, 1996.
posted by tirutiru at 10:55 PM on September 10 [7 favorites]


Okay. I have two points I want to make here. The first point regards the post itself.

(*Ctrl + F for "Martin Luther King"*)

No?

Bob Woodward has literally "wait[ed] for a 'more convenient season,'" the behavior that Martin Luther King Jr. decries in his "Letter From a Birmingham Jail." What part of "comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable" does Woodward's timing here fulfill?

I'm finding the second point difficult to phrase constructively. It regards the comments here, in the thread below the post.

Hmm. Let's try it this way:

Ian Danskin posted an Innuendo Studios video close to a year ago, "The Alt-Right Playbook: How to Radicalize a Normie." (Somebody posted it here on MetaFilter back then; that's how I found it in the first place.) Anyway, there's an aside he makes, about one minute long thirty-three minutes into the video: "It sends an awful message when we spend more time trying to get bigots back on our side than we do the people they are bigoted against."

In the United States, COVID-19 has been affecting people of color more harshly than white people. Yet, most of this thread focuses on triangulating on the upcoming presidential election, spinning up a profile of a hypothetical Trump supporter (white by default, presumably) to perseverate about, and hypothesizing about how much or little change Woodward would have effected had he gone public with this news earlier-- playing at a version of the Trolley Problem with a nation's worth of suffering, dying, non-white people, and there is SO MUCH I want to say about that but I'm not sure how to begin. You're not necessarily trying to get these real and/or hypothetical people "back on our side," but you sure do talk about them to the exclusion of most everyone else!

tl;dr: this thread is so chock full of white supremacist centering that I find it off-putting. I'm not saying that anyone here is racist, but being steeped in a culture that promulgates a basic racist outlook will prime people to express some serious bias even if (especially if) they weren't consciously thinking about it.

I'd paraphrase Carter G. Woodson's The Mis-Education of the Negro here, but this combined post and thread has straight-up drained my spirit.
posted by tyro urge at 12:54 AM on September 11 [22 favorites]


Bob Woodward appears to be a regular human, so I’m sure he does actually have regular human feelings and regular human thoughts.

But at this point, functionally, Bob Woodward is basically a machine for producing books about the inner workings of the US government, about every two years. Doesn’t matter who’s in power, there will be a couple of Woodward books every administration, and everyone’s always surprised that people still talk to him.

The sun will shine in the summer, and Bob Woodward will have a new book again in late 2021 or in 2022.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:55 AM on September 11 [3 favorites]


ICE flew detainees to Virginia so the planes could transport agents to D.C. protests. A huge coronavirus outbreak followed.

With this administration it's not just the usual systemic racism. It's real facsism. But the media, including people like Woodward, are entirely unprepared for the reality of it. IMO, they are learning, slowly. But I can understand those who find their learning curve too flat. Those who ask for radical change. I look at those times where radical change actually happened and see that "the media" rarely get it. Journalists like to see themselves as people who are on the spot, always finding the latest and most important news. But they rarely are. Once upon a time, Bob Woodward really was where it happened, and it was amazing. But it would be unrealistic to imagine he is there still today. He can get another rich old man to open himself and tell what he really thinks. But he can't understand things he never knew.
posted by mumimor at 9:51 AM on September 11 [3 favorites]


The media is millionaires being paid by billionaires to tell us plebes everything is fine. It isn't that that don't get it it's that they are being paid not to get it.
posted by sotonohito at 10:36 AM on September 11 [4 favorites]


With this administration it's not just the usual systemic racism. It's real facsism. But the media, including people like Woodward, are entirely unprepared for the reality of it.

I'm of the opinion that there is genocidal intent in the way the Trump administration has responded to the pandemic, both through (in)action and rhetoric. The disparity in suffering/death between white people and everyone else living in this country is very real. Trump knew about the specifics of the virus's transmission in early February, there is no reason to believe that he didn't also know that it would disproportionately affect Black and Latinx communities to a far greater degree than whites.

The United States has always been at Stage 10 (Denial) of the 10 Stages of Genocide. Denial is "among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres", and the country has been moving in and out of stages 1-9 since the nation was founded. Trump's campaign and presidency has checked all the boxes of 1-7; 2020 has seen a dramatic acceleration of these indicators, the pandemic along with a fascist response to protests have pushed us into solid 8-9 territory.

Whether they fully understand it or not, I think Trump supporters are in support of genocide. Any information about possible suffering and death as a result of their leader's actions will not sway them from their support because ultimately suffering and death of 'the other' is the goal. The country needs a deep deprogramming, starting with truth and reconciliation along with reparations. Only then will it be time to talk about 'getting bigots back on our side'. There is a huge amount of dangerous and heavy work to be done before we get to that point, and anyone like Bob Woodward who has the privilege to throw themselves into the cogs of this administration and only face the loss of 'access' or book sales needs to do so. The stakes are way beyond political at this point.
posted by soy bean at 11:43 AM on September 11 [13 favorites]


The media is millionaires being paid by billionaires to tell us plebes everything is fine. It isn't that that don't get it it's that they are being paid not to get it.

I caught a little of NPR's program 1A this morning, and during the weekly roundup of news stories, the host and all three panelists were careful to frame criticism of Trump's action -- even of activity in the recent whistleblower complaint alleging that DHS was directed to downplay the threat of Russia and white supremacy -- as "Democrats say." In doing so, the frame every controversy as inherently partisan -- thus bolstering elements of Trumps' defense, which is to claim it is anyway -- and inject an element of doubt that Trump is really doing anything wrong.

It was disgusting and I stopped listening after only a few repetitions of this trope. That kind of garbage, going back at least to the George W. Bush administration, is why I no longer contribute to NPR.
posted by Gelatin at 12:09 PM on September 11 [18 favorites]


I'm of the opinion that there is genocidal intent in the way the Trump administration has responded to the pandemic, both through (in)action and rhetoric.

Trump suggested shooting border-crossing immigrants and letting alligators kill them. Trump probably heard that black and latinx urban populations would be hit disproportionately, then did some election math on the back of a napkin, before deciding not to give a shit because the pandemic started in blue states.
posted by benzenedream at 12:12 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]


rump probably heard that black and latinx urban populations would be hit disproportionately, then did some election math on the back of a napkin

If memory serves me correctly it was Kushner who was reported to have done pretty much exactly that, but yeah.
posted by Gelatin at 12:15 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]


Agreed, Gelatin, "Journalism cannot be neutral toward a threat to the conditions that make it possible" (which is the subhead to a Vox article from way back in 2017, "Donald Trump and the rise of tribal epistemology").
posted by PhineasGage at 12:22 PM on September 11 [3 favorites]


there is no reason to believe that he didn't also know that it would disproportionately affect Black and Latinx communities to a far greater degree than whites.

If memory serves me correctly it was Kushner who was reported to have done pretty much exactly that, but yeah.


Could either of you provide the sources on which you are basing this thinking? To my knowledge, no one prior to February could have (or did) predict that there would be a disproportionate impact along racial/ethnic lines in the US. Relying on memory alone, it seems to me that it was late March by the time there was a realization of a disproportionate impact.

And I am interested in this Kushner conversation: what was it, and when?
posted by Miko at 1:09 PM on September 11


Here’s an article published, coincidentally, on Feb 7th: Big Outbreaks Like The Coronavirus Actually Do Discriminate: Against the Poor and Most Needy . If you understand the transmission methods it’s not hard to make the leap to understanding who will be most affected, especially if you can control the Federal government’s response and actions of Republican governors.

Honestly, I believe the idea that Trump is an idiot is a very dangerous misconception that he deliberately plays with. He has vast resources at his disposal to inform his decisions. I think the disconnect is that his goals are very different than a traditional politician’s would be, so his actions and interests seem stupid in a traditional political or cultural context. The idea that he’s just bumbling his way through the pandemic and that the death and chaos he’s brought to this country is something he would have averted if he was more intelligent is, I think, misguided. Death and chaos are tools to him, keys to almost unlimited power.
posted by soy bean at 1:39 PM on September 11 [7 favorites]


And I am interested in this Kushner conversation: what was it, and when?

Vanity Fair reported on it in late July as part of an overall article on how the Trump Administration initiatives failed.
Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.

That logic may have swayed Kushner. “It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out,” the expert said.
posted by Gelatin at 1:57 PM on September 11 [8 favorites]


El Presidente Cheeto Supremo is accusing Biden of being on some kind of drug to enhance his mental acuity, which is basically a confession from Trump that he is on a rotating cocktail of uppers and downers throughout the day.
posted by PenDevil at 2:48 PM on September 11 [8 favorites]


The early data on impact came from China, which is much more racially homogenous than the US -- I think the data just weren't there, let alone shared by China, to predict the racial outcome we've seen.

I agree, though, that the un-President approaches everything from a "let them eat cake" point of view -- it would be known (implicitly or explicitly) to public health people (like the article soy_bean posted) that Americans in denser and/or lower-income neighborhoods would feel more impact, and that's the systemically underprivileged, non-white. Those are exactly the people the present administration wants to cut out.

And that does add up to genocide.
posted by Dashy at 2:56 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]


El Presidente Cheeto Supremo is accusing Biden of being on some kind of drug to enhance his mental acuity, which is basically a confession from Trump that he is on a rotating cocktail of uppers and downers throughout the day.

"Adderall" was trending on Twitter a couple of days ago because someone posted a video of what appeared to be a small white chunk of something flying out of Trump's nose during a speech. (No link because fucking gross also "a couple days ago" on Twitter might as well be the Paleolithic Era.)
posted by soundguy99 at 4:09 PM on September 11


BoingBoing has tagged this as the classic abuser's tactic of DARVO: Deny, Accuse, and Reverse Victim and Offender. (more)
posted by PhineasGage at 4:48 PM on September 11 [4 favorites]


As always, if you want to know *exactly* what Trump is doing, just listen to what he's accusing others of doing. (Works for the rest of the GOP too.)
posted by holborne at 8:19 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]


Adderall" was trending on Twitter a couple of days ago because someone posted a video of what appeared to be a small white chunk of something flying out of Trump's nose during a speech

If this video is real, Trump's neurological problems have gotten so bad he has to snort something before he can risk appearing in public.
posted by jamjam at 12:18 AM on September 12


We've discussed this time and again. I believe he is drugged up, specially when he needs to act "presidential". But it's all speculation. Right now it seems more important to me that he is actually prosecuted for his crimes and hopefully sent to jail. None of this BS looking forward stuff for him.
In another description/review of Woodward's book, Dan Coats is quoted:
“How else to explain the president’s behavior? Coats could see no other explanation,” Woodward wrote after interviewing the former spy chief. “He was sure that Trump had chosen to play on the dark side – the moneyed interests in the New York real estate culture, and international finance with its corrupt anything-to-make-a-buck deal making.”
In other words (and as most Mefites believe), the US president is a criminal, that is why foreign powers can influence him, and US intelligence knows it. Joe Biden knows it, Kamala Harris knows it. If they don't act on that knowledge, no one will ever trust an American administration again in my lifetime.
posted by mumimor at 1:46 AM on September 12 [5 favorites]


Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.

This is fucking ghoulish.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:57 AM on September 12 [12 favorites]


I'm pretty sure it isn't just ghoulish, but actually a crime. If it isn't, it bloody well should be.
posted by sotonohito at 7:22 AM on September 12 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure if anyone who wrote laws considered that a President or other powerful politician might do something like this. This is what impeachment is for, as a last resort - when you should be able to pprosecute a crime, but you can't.
posted by thelonius at 8:02 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]


PenDevil: "El Presidente Cheeto Supremo "

I've made this point before, but this kind of joke about how Trump is so bad he's like one of those presidents from crappy countries where they speak Spanish is:

a) lazy stereotyping
b) racist and xenophobic
c) parochial
c) really not self-aware: those of us who live in countries where the head of state is called 'Presidente' mostly have watched aghast as so many things that would never be allowed to happen in our countries have become the new normal in the U.S.

At least my 'El Presidente', who's no prize, tells people to wear a mask and doesn't put children in cages.
posted by signal at 8:16 AM on September 12 [31 favorites]


a) lazy stereotyping
b) racist and xenophobic


Also an example of mock language, which is a bad thing to do.
posted by Snowishberlin at 8:23 AM on September 12 [4 favorites]


There is no way the current congress will impeach Trump. (Which makes all Republicans complicit). So the first task is to get anti-crime majorities in both chambers. But unfortunately those majorities (looking at 2008 and sighing) may choose to decide that the "high road" is to let the criminals go. I get why, but fuck that. Excuse my language.

Just before logging onto Metafilter I had a long conversation with my Mexican cousin about racism, so it was weird/interesting to see it reappear here. In the context of this thread, the important thing is to know that the CIA has contributed actively to undermine democracy in Latin America, in favor of various fascist rulers. I'm not a fan of Cuba, at all, but when I was there, I was humbled by the universal agreement (and I was a journalist then and spoke with hundreds of people), that whatever the short-fallings of the regime, ordinary people were better off than those countries that had an American puppet regime.
posted by mumimor at 9:23 AM on September 12 [3 favorites]


Congress is explicitly prohibited from attempting to punish crime outside of removal from office. This same Congress already impeached Trump earlier this year. If they want to punish crime, then Biden just needs to appoint leadership in the Justice Department who will let prosecutors (continue to) investigate members of the administration.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:49 AM on September 12 [3 favorites]


Noted ratfucker, convicted felon, and Trump campaign associate Roger Stone calling for an all-out coup if Trump loses the election.
Stone argued that “the ballots in Nevada on election night should be seized by federal marshalls and taken from the state” because “they are completely corrupted” and falsely said that “we can prove voter fraud in the absentees right now.” He specifically called for Trump to have absentee ballots seized in Clark County, Nevada, an area that leans Democratic. Stone went on to claim that “the votes from Nevada should not be counted; they are already flooded with illegals” and baselessly suggested that former Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) should be arrested and that Trump should consider nationalizing Nevada’s state police force.
The Brooks Brothers Riot worked before so why not again? This time with fascism and guns!
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:03 AM on September 12 [7 favorites]


The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.

When I first read this article I yelled quite loudly while reading this section. Letting people die who didn't vote for you is ghoulish enough, but to be clear, these "political folks" are so damn dumb and removed from reality that they think a global pandemic will not cross state lines.
posted by benzenedream at 12:28 PM on September 12 [5 favorites]


whatever the short-fallings of the regime, ordinary people were better off than those countries that had an American puppet regime

My minor credentials in this discussion is that since 1994 I have lived in ex-Eastbloc countries and have friends, family, and decades of witnessing the "Cold War Victory" from behind the Iron Curtain.

Guys, we have been the baddies the whole time. Communism was by almost every metric a better deal for the people. I am not some Stalinist tank head type! I am just some guy, and from my direct personal experience it is as plain as day! We (the West) undermined and destroyed socialism all around the world, so the capitalist elite could eat everyone's lunch. Fascism is fine, as long as capitalism, too.

And here we are. Fuck this timeline.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:38 PM on September 12 [5 favorites]


Communism was by almost every metric a better deal for the people.

I'm not entirely sure about that. communism in Cuba was better than fascism in Chile, or any of the other US-sponsored dictatorships in Latin America, for ordinary people. But communism in East Germany was not better than democracy in West Germany. The terrible thing that happened after 1989 was that extremist free-marketeers/robber-barons took over almost everything in the whole east block.
But that is a derail. Or maybe it isn't, because what is happening now is that they are trying to do the same thing with the old west block.
posted by mumimor at 1:02 PM on September 12 [6 favorites]


If you want to see what a country run the way formerly mainstream Republicans looks like, you only need look to Russia. The post-Soviet economic system, and more specifically the way in which the state enterprises were privatized, was implemented on the advice of the ultra-capitalist think tanks.

They got their chance to prove the results of their policy recommendations and it was quite a disaster. To the point that I've seen it said by people who would know better than I that many Russians think the US intentionally ratfucked them. In reality, the right wing extremists have long been getting high on their own supply. They really think that all our woes can be solved if only their policies were fully implemented. It's a religion that cannot fail, only be failed. Much like the authoritarian variant of communism, actually. The people that say the political spectrum is really a circle are pretty close to the truth.

The "nice" thing about the old empires is that they at least seemed to understand that their self-serving propaganda wasn't actually reality, it was a means of enriching themselves and their peers.
posted by wierdo at 2:24 PM on September 12 [8 favorites]


Question: I'm looking at the Kindle preview of this book on Amazon. Why does Woodward make such a point of saying "President Trump declined to be interviewed for this book", * when those interviews are the foundation of the book? I don't get it. Can anyone explain?
* see the last sentence of the "Note to Readers," right before the Prologue.
posted by Corvid at 5:25 PM on September 12


Answer to my own Question, just above: OOPS! That statement that puzzled me was from Woodward's earlier book, "Fear," not the new book, "Rage." MY book will be titled "Confusion." Please disregard!
posted by Corvid at 6:14 PM on September 12 [5 favorites]


Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.

And this is one of the main reasons (among a zillion others) that the Electoral college is so destructive to democracy: P45, a malignant narcissist who's transparent about caring only about himself and his reelection, can literally, openly not give a damn about California because there's no electoral reason for him to give a damn about it. He and everyone else knows he's not going to win California, but there's no reason for him to care; every single citizen of California, all 40 million of them, could vote for Biden, and P45 could still win the presidency. So there's zero political downside for him in telling Californians to go fuck themselves and letting the state burn, and that's exactly what he's doing.
posted by holborne at 12:14 PM on September 13 [17 favorites]


How the Trump Campaign’s Mobile App Is Collecting Massive Amounts of Voter Data.
New Yorker.: - The data-collecting methods of the software company Phunware’s Trump 2020 app are reminiscent of those used by Cambridge Analytica
posted by adamvasco at 2:08 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, in totally-normal, not-at-all-crazy news, Trump's assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services appeared in a video on Facebook Live on Sunday where he apparently claimed that there is a “resistance unit” within the CDC that is attempting to sustain the pandemic until after the presidential election, and went on to add that “there are hit squads being trained all over this country” to mount armed opposition to a second term for President Trump. (Slate summary of the same story, for those who cannot access or prefer not to visit the NYT article linked above.)
posted by Nerd of the North at 4:16 PM on September 14 [5 favorites]


^This was a story that Politico broke, on Friday: Trump officials interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19. In short, via Letters from an American: "Political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services have been altering the weekly scientific reports issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) following the course of the coronavirus pandemic." Trump appointed Republican operative/campaign adviser/Roger Stone associate Michael Caputo, who has no scientific or medical background, as assistant secretary of HHS for public affairs in April. Caputo and his team tamper with reports while regularly accusing CDC staff of lying and undermining the president. At Politico:

In one clash, an aide to Caputo berated CDC scientists for attempting to use the reports to "hurt the President" in an Aug. 8 email sent to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other officials that was widely circulated inside the department and obtained by POLITICO.

"CDC to me appears to be writing hit pieces on the administration," appointee Paul Alexander wrote, calling on Redfield to modify two already published reports that Alexander claimed wrongly inflated the risks of coronavirus to children and undermined Trump's push to reopen schools. "CDC tried to report as if once kids get together, there will be spread and this will impact school re-opening . . . Very misleading by CDC and shame on them. Their aim is clear."


Caputo's team suppressed a report on hydroxychloroquine administration for COVID-19 for about month, questionings its authors' political leanings; published last week, the report found that "the potential benefits of these drugs do not outweigh their risks."

The general public hasn't been working from the same information as the administration (and the monied class the administration chose to notify, as mentioned in previous comments) during this horror show. All along, it's been a deluge of disinformation and contradictory advice. And many of the people inclined to be more conservative in their individual approaches to avoiding infection despite that deception couldn't and can't act on such impulses.
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:59 PM on September 14 [5 favorites]


CDC tried to report as if once kids get together, there will be spread and this will impact school re-opening

what a crazy theory!
posted by thelonius at 6:55 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]


Well, at least he clearly states what is wrong with him:
He went further, saying his physical health was in question, and his “mental health has definitely failed.”
“I don’t like being alone in Washington,” Mr. Caputo said, describing “shadows on the ceiling in my apartment, there alone, shadows are so long.”
Not joking, I do think that for some Republicans the gap between the facts and the official message is getting a bit far to bridge. And at the same time, there is no way back for them.
posted by mumimor at 5:11 AM on September 15 [4 favorites]


The pandemic would strain any nation and system, but Trump's rejection of evidence and public health measures have been catastrophic in the U.S. He was warned many times in January and February about the onrushing disease, yet he did not develop a national strategy to provide protective equipment, coronavirus testing or clear health guidelines. Testing people for the virus, and tracing those they may have infected, is how countries in Europe and Asia have gained control over their outbreaks, saved lives, and successfully reopened businesses and schools.

But in the U.S., Trump claimed, falsely, that “anybody that wants a test can get a test.” That was untrue in March and remained untrue through the summer. Trump opposed $25 billion for increased testing and tracing that was in a pandemic relief bill as late as July. These lapses accelerated the spread of disease through the country—particularly in highly vulnerable communities that include people of color, where deaths climbed disproportionately to those in the rest of the population. - excerpted, with links, from Scientific American Endorses Joe Biden, Sept. 15, 2020

The article, written by the magazine's editors, marks a timeline of the administration's failures through early September and summarizes Biden's proposals. This is the first presidential endorsement in Scientific American's 175-year history.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:05 PM on September 15 [6 favorites]


Michael R. Caputo, the assistant secretary of health for public affairs, apologized Tuesday morning to Health Secretary Alex M. Azar II and his staff for a Facebook outburst in which he accused federal scientists working on the pandemic of “sedition” and warned of coming violence from left-wing “hit squads.” He is considering a leave of absence to address physical health problems, according to one source familiar with the situation. [...] Since he was installed at the 80,000-employee department last April by the White House, Mr. Caputo, a media-savvy former Trump campaign aide, has worked aggressively to control the media strategy on pandemic issues. - NY Times, September 15, 2020 [Caputo: toiling hard to control the narrative; less interested in stopping an epidemic] About that FB 'outburst':

Then on Monday, The Times reported that a Facebook presentation by Mr. Caputo the previous night was filled with bizarre and incendiary comments. He had attacked C.D.C. scientists as anti-Trumpers who had formed a “resistance unit,” engaged in “rotten science” and “haven’t gotten out of their sweatpants” except for coffee shop meetings where they plotted against the president. He urged his gun-owning followers to buy ammunition because “it’s going to be hard to get” and warned that left-wing hit squads across the nation were training for violent attacks. But a leave of absence is under consideration, that's reassuring. Caputo also made reference to "physical health concerns and said his mental health 'had definitely failed,'" which is nothing to snark about, but how is this man still on the job when he's now on the record as repeatedly tampering with reports and deliberately misleading the public, and inciting violence (and practically putting targets on CDC staff)?

When Caputo felt threatened by someone on Facebook in March 2019 (related to the Mueller investigation -- Caputo played a role there, too) he filed criminal charges.

Caputo was Roger Stone's protégé; together, they tried to sell Putin to America. He's also a former aide to Paul Manafort and a current "Ukraine Hoax" enthusiast.

May 2018: Former Trump Campaign Aide: My Russia Ties Are Not Nefarious! (Wired)
April 2020: Michael Caputo, Trump Loyalist and Conspiracist with Russia Ties, is New HHS Comms Chief. (Business Insider)
September 2020: Federal official who interfered with CDC reports on COVID-19 has deep ties to Russia: report Michael Caputo’s Kremlin ties "were so concerning that he became a target" of special counsel Bob Mueller's probe. (Salon)
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:02 PM on September 15 [9 favorites]


So yesterday Trump just openly said he needs to get his pick into RBG's Supreme Court seat to control the outcome of the election: “We should act quickly because we’re going to have probably election things involved here”. That's exactly what Nicolás Maduro did in Venezuela before then using the Venezuelan Supreme Court/Tribunal to dissolve the legislature. Of course, it's not the violent anti-democracy stuff Republicans ever object to in their boogeyman version of socialism, it's that everyone might get health care or sex education or something.

Maybe we'll have a Supreme Court of the United States In Exile. Either way, could someone please remember to write “probably election things involved here” on America's tomb stone.
posted by XMLicious at 11:47 AM on September 22 [7 favorites]


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