Trump’s Bizarre Interviews Might Be Funny But His Complacency Is Fatal
Earlier this week, footage of Donald Trump’s recent interview with Axios’s national political correspondent Jonathan Swan went viral for all the wrong reasons.
In one particular segment doing the rounds on social media, the President of the United States failed to understand his country’s ranking in the world for deaths related to coronavirus, at one point claiming the US was ‘lower than the world’.
In actual fact, the US is currently the worst-affected country in the world, with more than 4.7 million confirmed cases and 156,000 people dead across the country – figures you’d expect would force Trump to have a handle on the seriousness of the pandemic.
Yet seemingly he doesn’t, and blundered his way through the interview, trying to hide his complacency behind a series of basic charts he couldn’t even understand:
Almost immediately after the interview was shared online, The Thick of It began trending on social media, with many questioning whether the clip was real life or simply a scene from a comedy sketch.
It’s easy to see why people might have thought that: throughout the interview, Trump repeatedly floundered on the figures, struggled to hold an A4 piece of paper the right way up, and flat-out refused to acknowledge the interviewer’s line of questioning, petulantly telling him: ‘You can’t do that.’
The whole thing was a car crash, effectively, with the charts Trump was so transfixed by resembling something a young child might proudly present to their teacher; not something the President of the United States would proudly present to a journalist.
Of course, it’s easy for us to sit here and laugh at these bizarre interviews the president occasionally graces us with. After all, this one’s so surreal it really did feel as though we were watching a comedy skit at points.
But when this man holds one of the most powerful positions in the world, and when he is leading the worst-hit country in the world during a global health crisis, surely that laughter has to turn into concern at some point?
Surely we have to realise enough is enough, especially when laughing at his incompetency is what got us in this situation in the first place. After all, isn’t that how he won the presidency? Because nobody took him seriously?
Well, the time for laughing is over, made evident by the fact thousands of Americans are dying every single day and the president seems more willing than ever to detach himself from the situation. ‘It is what it is,’ he told Swan, a phrase more commonly associated with Love Island rather than the President of the United States.
Mixed in with these blatant distraction strategies placed throughout this car crash of an interview were false claims that the US has done a better job than many other countries around the world during the pandemic – claims that were presented as fact.
Claims that Trump has reiterated a number of times throughout the pandemic, consistently saying the US has the ‘lowest mortality rate in the world’, despite the fact this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Claims that, not for the first time, Trump wasn’t able to back up with statistics. Claims that, even if we were to brush over the large number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the country – which we’re not going to – are just plain wrong.
Dangerously so, in fact, because it gives his supporters a false sense of security that their president actually knows what he’s doing. When in reality, Trump’s handling of the pandemic has been questionable at best and fatal at worst.
From downplaying the virus towards the beginning of the year to delaying testing which then led to shortages in such testing, to announcing the US would stop funding the WHO – the organisation at the heart of the battle against coronavirus – Trump has proven time and time again he is not a fit leader.
Luke Warpus, from Atlanta, Georgia, told UNILAD such inaction by the President of the United States has had ‘dire consequences that the US will be recovering from for years to come’.
The 23-year-old explained:
Trump’s pandemic response has been abysmal. He has managed to somehow take something that should have been a collective effort to get through the pandemic, and made almost every aspect of it a partisan issue.
Everything from the guidelines put forth by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to the act of wearing a face covering and even discrediting advice of Anthony Fauci, a renowned expert on the subject who has served many previous presidents.
Now, many US cities are opening up too soon without ever going through anything close to a proper lockdown and the figures of new cases and deaths per day are staggering because of this.
As well as the huge number of human lives lost in recent months, Luke says the economic repercussions of the pandemic – ‘which is what the Trump Administration seems most fixated on’ – cannot be ignored.
‘Entire markets and industries have had to release staff and put millions of Americans on unemployment insurance, leaving many to wonder if they will be able to cover their next month’s rent,’ he explained.
Luke, who works in television and film production, added that Trump’s handling of the pandemic has ‘forced [his] entire industry to a grinding halt’. Currently it’s a struggle to film anything because it’s ‘not uncommon’ for there to be large groups of people working close together on set.
‘Each passing day of inaction by Trump, his supporters and those who think any kind of precautionary measure is an infringement on their rights, will delay the ability for millions of Americans to return to work safely,’ Luke said.
But it isn’t just Trump’s inaction that has led to the US being the worst-affected country throughout the pandemic; it’s necessary to look at the things he has done too.
Who could forget the time he suggested coronavirus could be treated by injecting disinfectant into the body, something that led to a spike in calls to hotlines about the substance? Or the time he hosted a rally at a time when large public gatherings were banned in numerous states?
Or what about the multiple times he refused to wear a face mask in public – even while visiting an actual mask factory – before eventually wearing one during a photo op, only to then do yet another U-turn and ditching said mask?
He’s in charge yet he isn’t, his continuous attempts to downplay the virus so transparent and so cringe-inducing it makes you wonder how his press team are still allowing him to conduct interviews such as this one.
And while these attempts might have worked as a distraction method earlier in the year, now – when hundreds of thousands of Americans have died and the weekly average of deaths across the US is rising steadily, having more than doubled in just one month – they’re simply not good enough.
So while our initial reaction to the now notorious interview might have been to ‘chuckle at the idiocy that is my president’, as 23-year-old Devyn’s was, it soon became clear this is not a laughing matter.
New Yorker Devyn told UNILAD his initial reaction soon turned to one of ‘confusion’ as he realised he ‘couldn’t understand or follow what Trump was trying to say’, something he feels reflects the president’s handling of the pandemic.
‘The general response to the current pandemic by the President is nothing shy of a total failure,’ he explained. ‘Donald Trump is more concerned with his followers and getting re-elected than he is about the death toll of America.’
For Luke, his reaction to the interview was one of ‘intense embarrassment on behalf of the American people’, as it showed how Trump is ‘fixated on manipulating the statistics as much as he can in order to show himself in the best light possible, regardless of the reality for the whole of the USA’.
President Trump does not care about the number of deaths in the US; he cares about his reputation.
It’s clear then that no matter how surreal or ‘funny’ Trump’s interview might have seemed at first, on closer inspection it only served to show exactly how dangerous – no, fatal – his complacency can be.
The President of the United States needs to be held to a higher standard than, say, some character on a comedy sketch show. And it needs to happen now, before even more lives are lost.
It’s okay to not panic about everything going on in the world right now. LADbible and UNILAD’s aim with our campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we’re facing. For more information from the World Health Organization, click here.