-The president appointed
Mike Pence to take charge of the response to
the coronavirus and held a press conference to
try to reassure Americans that ended up reassuring
absolutely nobody. For more on this, it’s time
for “A Closer Look.” [ Cheers and applause ] -Nearly 3,000 people worldwide
have died so far from the coronavirus,
and now the CDC has confirmed the first case here in the U.S.
of unknown origin. The stock market has plummeted
this week on fears of potential global pandemic and officials
here are warning that a wider spread in
the U.S. is inevitable, or as the president put it
during a press conference in India on Tuesday — -You may ask about the
coronavirus, which is, you know, very well under control
in our country. We have very few people with it
and the people that have it are — in all cases I have not
heard anything other. Maybe there’s something new
’cause for two days, I haven’t been seeing too much
of that news of — very much news. -Man, that — that trip to India
really screwed you up. [ Laughter ]
“You know, the problem is I’m still on India time, which
is ten hours ahead. So a lot of this stuff that’s
happening in the States hasn’t happened for me yet
because, you know, because
I’m in the future.” [ Laughter ] Like, three weeks ago
you were literally going around D.C. holding up
newspapers to brag about your impeachment acquittal like an extra from “Newsies.” Did you not think to at least
try reading one of them? “Look, we did it, coronavirus?” Now, it turns out
Trump’s statement was only partially true.
It turns out he was watching the news, but only because he was
freaked out about the effect the virus was having
on the stock market, and thus his political fortunes. -Our reporting indicates that
while he was in India, he was watching the stock market
reaction very closely. He was very nervous and upset to see what was happening
with the stock market. He seemed to be more aware of
what was happening with the stock market than
was actually happening with developments
with the virus. -Of course, he was.
That’s the only thing Trump cares about,
the stock market. For one thing, it’s very
easy to understand. There’s no reading involved. All you have to do is look at
the little arrow on the bottom corner of your TV, and see whether
it’s red or green. In fact, whoever controls
that thing could possibly drive Trump insane by flipping
it back and forth really fast. “Oh, that’s good. Oh, no, that’s bad. Good. Bad. Good! Bad. Oh, no.
Oh, somebody make it stop.” [ Laughter ]
There are only two reasons Trump only cares about
the stock market, one, it mostly benefits the
wealthy elite that he caters to, and two, he thinks it’s crucial
to his re-election chances. “Politico” reported that
the White House is afraid the coronavirus could shape
Trump’s 2020 fortunes. That’s why Trump has been
spreading misinformation about the situation
and seemingly trying to just will
the problem away. For example, Trump
keeps comparing coronavirus to the flu. Now, coronavirus has a fatality
ratio about 20 times higher than the flu and yet, when
an actual medical doctor, CNN’s Sanjay Gupta asked Trump
about that difference at his press conference
yesterday, Trump insisted that
Gupta was wrong. -You talked about the flu in
comparison to the coronavirus. Flu has a fatality ratio
of about .1%. -Correct. -This has a fatality ratio somewhere between 2% and 3%. -Well, we think.
We think. We don’t know exactly numbers.
-The numbers so far — -And the flu is higher
than that. The flu is much
higher than that. [ Laughter ]
-He’s — He’s a doctor. Why do you think you know
more than he does? Do you do this during your
actual doctors’ appointments? “Mr. President, it looks like
you have an undigested hamburger lodged in your stomach.” “No, you’re wrong, that’s
just my second heart.” [ Laughter ]
Trump probably thinks he knows more about actual
doctors because this guy was his actual doctor. Do you remember him? The guy who looks
less like a doctor and more like he’s hiding in the
witness protection program. [ Laughter ]
The guy whose fallback job is roadie for
Hootie and the Blowfish. [ Laughter ]
Trump probably did know more than this guy.
“Bad news, man, looks like you got your feet
where your brain should be.” [ Laughter ]
“No, I think you just have it upside down.”
“Oh, hey! I guess you’re right, man.
All right. Want some medicine?”
[ Laughter ] Now, look, it’s important to be
cautious and not to panic, but it’s also important
not to ignore the advice of health
professionals. Everyone should remain calm,
hope for the best, but follow the advice of experts
and be prepared. For example, public health
officials have been warning this week that it’s
not a matter of if, but when the virus spreads here. A top CDC official, the director
of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory
Diseases said this week it was inevitable
and that disruption to everyday life may be severe. So you can either believe
that expert, a doctor and scientist who’s
received numerous awards and worked in public health
for decades, or you can believe this expert. -The virus — they’re
working hard. Looks like by April,
you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer,
it miraculously goes away. I hope that’s true. [ Laughter ]
-What? [ Laughter ]
What are you talking about? It will go away
when it gets warmer? We’re talking about a possible
pandemic, not winter skin. [ Laughter ]
Also, no one ever says, “In theory” followed by
the word, “miraculously.” That just proves how bad
your theory is. “In theory, she’ll catch me
having an affair and it will miraculously make
our marriage stronger.” But this isn’t just a story
about Trump’s incompetence, it’s also a story about
Trump’s priorities because while he’s been doling
out trillions in tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy,
he’s also been proposing massive cuts to health agency
spending, and when he was asked
about that yesterday, he just shrugged it off and said
he could rehire doctors whenever he wants. -Trump consistently called
for enormous cuts to the CDC and the N.I.H.
and the W.H.O. You talked a lot today about
how these professionals are excellent, highly critical
and necessary. Does this experience at all give
you pause about those — -No, because we can get money
and we can increase staff. We know all the people.
We know all the good people. If we have a need, we can
get them very quickly. When we need them, we can get
them back very quickly. -No, you can’t.
You can’t just fire a bunch of doctors and then hire
them back immediately when there’s an emergency. You can’t even get ahold of
a doctor after 2:45 on a Friday. [ Laughter ]
This situation should give Trump pause
about his health cuts but, of course, it won’t because
nothing ever gives him pause. He literally doesn’t even
pause between words, that’s why he’s constantly
sucking in air. [ Breaths ] [ Laughter ]
By the way, if you see someone sniffing like that on
the subway this week, move to the other end
of the car. In fact, Trump’s team is so
deeply unprepared that even the Republican
Senators are getting frustrated with their lack of basic
knowledge about the virus they’re dealing with.
Louisiana Senator John Kennedy grilled the acting Secretary of
Homeland Security this week for some basic facts about
the spread of the disease, like how many cases the
department is expecting, and it only went
downhill from there. -Is someone modeling that? Do you have any way of guessing? -Again, H.H.S., through their
medical professionals are — -Yes, but you’re head of Homeland Security.
-Yes, sir. -And your job is
to keep us safe. -Yes, sir.
-Do you know today how many the experts are predicting — -We only know that, again, we anticipate those numbers
to grow in the U.S. -But, you can’t tell us how many
your models are anticipating? -No, Senator. Again, I would defer you to the Health and Human
Services for that. -Okay.
-CDC. -Don’t you think you ought
to check on that? You’re the secretary. I think you ought to
know that answer. -I understand that. -How is the coronavirus
transmitted? -Through a variety of ways,
obviously, human-to-human. -How is it transmitted? -A variety of different ways,
Senator. -Tell me what they are, please. -Again, human-to-human. -Oh, is that how
it’s transmitted, from human to human? “Sir, we believe coronavirus
is either transmitted from human to human
or by drinking a delicious Mexican beer. But we do think you can stop it
by putting a lime in the neck.” Seriously, how can you be the
Secretary of Homeland Security and not know how many cases
you’re expecting or how the disease
is transmitted? The better question would be,
what do you know? “We don’t have a vaccine yet,
but what we can do is air drop calendars into every city in
America so they can count the days until April when the
disease will miraculously go away, in theory. In theory.”
[ Laughter ] [ Applause ]
So, obviously, obviously, none of this is reassuring. Now, when he was whipping up a
panic about Ebola in 2014, Trump criticized then President
Obama’s choice for a Czar, to lead the response, tweeting,
“Obama just appointed an Ebola Czar with zero
experience in the medical area
and zero experience in infectious disease control.
A total joke.” So, to calm fears over the
spread of coronavirus yesterday, Trump announced that he was
taking his own advice and appointing a Czar with
in-depth medical experience. -I’m going to be announcing,
exactly right now, that I’m going to be putting
our vice president, Mike Pence, in charge. -Mike Pence?
[ Laughter ] What medical experience
does Mike Pence have? At best, he looks like a CPR
doll that won’t let you do mouth to mouth on it.
[ Laughter ] [ Applause ]
Although — Although I guess it makes sense
he’s in charge of diseases now because he always has an
expression that looks like number six
on the pain chart. Now, Trump explained
his appointment by claiming Pence had handled
health care in Indiana well, but in reality, he infamously
oversaw a totally preventable HIV outbreak in his home state. Trump should have picked someone
with relevant experience and a proven track record,
but instead, he picked a political
“yes man” because he doesn’t have anyone
else left in his White House. I mean, Ben Carson
is an actual doctor, but even he is less well known
for his medical career at this point than he is for
realizing mid-interview that he left his luggage
in the car. -We just saw Mr. Trump here.
I asked him how did it go and he said great, and he said
he learned a lot of things. What do you think he took away
from today? -Oh, my luggage.
[ Laughter ] Hold on.
-Okay. -“We have good news to report on
the coronavirus. Oh, no. Oh, I left the vaccine
in the car.” [ Laughter ]
It’s exactly the kind of situation when you want someone
competent in charge of the government who fills
the civil service with apolitical experts
and listens to them. Instead, we have a mentally
incompetent game show host who’s incapable
of thinking about anything other than his own
self-interests. In the meantime, we have
to trust and listen to the hardworking apolitical
public health officials and as for the Trump
administration, just hope that it — -Miraculously goes away. I hope that’s true.
[ Laughter ] -This has been “A Closer Look.” [ Cheers and applause ]