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Reporting on Trump’s coronavirus response that’s a bulwark against the onslaught of lies

Attorney Scott Pilutik wrestles with the news of the day, from a lawyerly perspective…

[Regarding this story: Inside Donald Trump and Jared Kushner’s Two Months of Magical Thinking]

Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman looks back at the tragic hole of lost time between January and March when Trump’s paranoia and magical thinking limited him to view the virus as an overhyped Democratic ploy to harm his reelection chances. The irony, of course, is that had he not dismissed those warnings his reelection chances would be far stronger.

A few revelatory takeaways: Jared Kushner has assumed a lot more sway over Trump of late and gets treated like a peer by Pence. From the beginning Kushner was on the denial side of the White House split, and he’s been steering Trump’s response since then.


For his part, a source suggests that “Pence lives in mortal fear of being booted off the ticket. Trump constantly reminds Mike that he almost didn’t choose him.”

As for Trump, he’s “like an 11-year-old boy waiting for the fairy godmother to bring him a magic pill” per an unnamed source. He’s out of his depth and incapable of understanding what’s happened and what needs to happen, which you pretty much already know, but the VF piece suggests that everyone around him knows too.

There are already more than a few look-back pieces like this, and there will be plenty more — books surely forthcoming, sourced better than this (mostly unnamed off-the-record sources). But all these pieces are important. First, they’re a bulwark against the onslaught of lies that get pumped into every news cycle. No matter how closely you pay attention you’re going to lose the thread from time to time, and lies are all Trump has to work with because the truth is horrifying.

Second, there will be a tendency to fatalistically conclude that everything that happened was inevitable. And in some ways, given Trump’s imperviousness to data that doesn’t serve his most immediate needs, that’s kind of true. And it’s not only Trump — Republicans have been waging war against science for decades now, for their own self-serving, mostly pro-business reasons.

But their takes on the virus were all wrong, and continue to be wrong. The inevitability of all that’s since transpired is a direct consequence of our being led into a ditch by ideologues contemptuous of government and science. And now they’ve no choice but to rewrite history on the fly, which has the unfortunate effect of narrowing its options to address the virus, resulting in daily human and economic carnage with no end in sight.

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