MSNBC’s Chuck Todd put the screws to Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” accusing the Trump administration of “gaslighting” the American people when it comes to the coronavirus crisis.
Pence made the news show rounds Sunday morning to promote the administration’s response to the outbreak of coronavirus cases and its first death that have hit the country. After reassurance from the VP that risk of contagion “remains low” for Americans, Todd mentioned the president’s accusation that Democrats are weaponizing the virus for political gain, noting in particular Donald Trump Jr.’s insistence that Dems want “millions of people” to die to end his father’s “streak of winning.”
“What facts are there that Democrats are doing this?” Todd asked. “Seems like people are asking questions, and they’re concerned about the virus. This, this implies some sort of political motivation, which is kind of gross.”
Pence suggested that there is “a lot of irresponsible rhetoric” coming from the left, prompting Todd to demand he “name some names.”
“Because this is just… it just feels like gaslighting,” a fired-up Todd pressed. “Please name some names. I’m… we’re all big… we’re all big people here. Name some names.”
Pence cited a single instance in which New York Times opinion writer Gail Collins said the disease should be renamed “Trumpvirus.”
“Does that apply to all people,” Todd asked. “This doesn’t help. This does not help us, no?”
Pence responded: “When you see voices on our side pushing back on outrageous and irresponsible rhetoric on the other side, I think that’s important, and I think it’s justified.”
Todd pushed back with recent comments made by Rush Limbaugh, who said that the virus wasn’t anything to worry about. “Was he wrong about that?” Todd asked.
Pence deflected, instead saying that Democrats are “reflexively critical” of the president, who, Pence said, wants America to know that “we’re all in this together.”
“So attacking Democrats is a way to do that?” Todd asked.
“I never begrudge people responding to unwarranted, unjustified attacks,” Pence answered. “But I promise you, we’re going to continue to focus on the mission the president’s given this taskforce and given this government.”
About 2,924 people have died from coronavirus and more than 85,406 cases have been confirmed in 60 countries, with most stemming from China. Saturday, the first coronavirus death in the U.S. was reported in Washington state.
Watch their exchange above.