During a White House press conference Tuesday, President Donald Trump blamed health experts for his slow response to the coronavirus pandemic, claiming that “the experts were wrong” on the spread of the virus.
The hastily organized event, which a limited number of reporters were allowed to attend, included a group of small business owners. Their presence was part of a new media strategy intended to give Trump an opportunity to cast his response to the crisis as a roaring success without too much scrutiny from the media.
Before he took a few questions from reporters, Trump even told the business owners that they were there, in part, to keep the media from being too harsh on him. “I think with you in the room, I have a feeling that they’ll ask me much nicer questions,” Trump said, again speaking the quiet part out loud. “They’ll tone ’em done, right?”
The president then lied, in response to the first question, about his wildly inaccurate prediction on Feb. 26 that coronavirus cases in the U.S. would be “down to close to zero” within days. Trump responded by inventing the entirely false narrative that he had been listening to unnamed “experts” who supposedly told him then that the pandemic virus would have no impact outside China.
New Trump lie: many experts "said that this would never affect the United States, it wouldn't affect Europe, it wouldn't affect anything outside of China. So we were listening to experts, we always will… but the experts got it wrong." (via @atrupar) pic.twitter.com/alVlyOjuew
— Robert Mackey (@RobertMackey) April 29, 2020
Of course, that’s a lie.
In fact, on Feb. 25, the day before the president made that prediction, Nancy Messonnier, a CDC expert on respiratory diseases, told reporters something very different: that her agency expected the novel coronavirus to begin spreading at a community level in the United States and “disruption to everyday life might be severe.”