Trump heads to Michigan as row over Woodward coronavirus revelations continues – US politics live

11.57am BST

Time magazine have just pushed their new cover out on social media – and it’s about the nation’s coronavirus death toll, which they label “An American Failure”.

TIME’s new cover: COVID-19 has killed nearly 200,000 Americans. How many more lives will be lost before the U.S. gets it right? https://t.co/fGSXgl0Uj2 pic.twitter.com/8o89XTVZ5V

Although America’s problems were widespread, they start at the top. A complete catalog of President Donald Trump’s failures to address the pandemic will be fodder for history books. There were weeks wasted early on stubbornly clinging to a fantastical belief that the virus would simply “disappear”; testing and contact tracing programs were inadequate; states were encouraged to reopen ahead of his own Administration’s guidelines; and statistics were repeatedly cherry-picked to make the US situation look far better than it was, while undermining scientists who said otherwise. “I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told the journalist Bob Woodward on March 19 in a newly revealed conversation. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Common-sense solutions like face masks were undercut or ignored. Research shows that wearing a facial covering significantly reduces the spread of Covid-19, and a pre-existing culture of mask wearing in East Asia is often cited as one reason countries in that region were able to control their outbreaks. In the US, Trump did not wear a mask in public until July 11, more than three months after the CDC recommended facial coverings, transforming what ought to have been a scientific issue into a partisan one.

11.36am BST

If you’ll excuse me a slight navel-gazing industry indulgence here, there will be plenty of journalists yesterday both envious of Bob Woodward for getting his scoop on tape, and also somewhat bewildered that he then sat on the information for months, watching how the president spoke in public about the coronavirus pandemic in a very different fashion.

Media columnist Margaret Sullivan has addressed that in a piece for the Washington Post this morning. She writes:

In fairness, it wasn’t just journalists raising concerns. A reader wrote to me arguing that Woodward’s revelation “could have been helpful in the spring, both explaining the seriousness of the disease to the public, showing the Trump administration’s bungled and inept response, and pushing the Trump administration to do more.” He added, with a touch of cynicism, that he hoped the author’s advance fee made the delay worthwhile.

First, he didn’t know what the source of Trump’s information was. It wasn’t until months later — in May — that Woodward learned it came from a high-level intelligence briefing. In February, what Trump told Woodward seemed hard to make sense of — back then, Woodward said, there was no panic over the virus; even toward the final days of that month, Anthony S. Fauci was publicly assuring Americans there was no need to change their daily habits.

Second, Woodward said, “the biggest problem I had, which is always a problem with Trump, is I didn’t know if it was true.”

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