Donald Trump and his administration continue to downplay the COVID-19 crisis, even as the rate of daily new infections in the U.S. approaches 100,000 — leading to Sunday news anchors hitting the White House hard over its approach.
While speaking at a rally in Michigan last weekend, Trump made the unsubstantiated claim that “Our doctors get more money if somebody dies from COVID. You know that, right? I mean our doctors are very smart people. So what they do is they say, ‘I’m sorry, but everybody dies of COVID.” Friday, he made a similar accusation during a rally in Wisconsin. And a White House Office of Science and Technology Policy news release Wednesday falsely listed “ending the COVID-19 pandemic” among the administration’s science and technology achievements over the past four years.
“Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace brought up the rising infections as well as Trump’s claim about doctors during an interview with the POTUS’ senior campaign adviser, Corey Lewandowski.
“I haven’t seen that evidence, but we have seen on multiple occasions instances where people have claimed that they have died from COVID-19 and that wasn’t the case,” Lewandowski said. “I think we’re categorizing individuals who may have COVID but aren’t dying from that and claiming it as a COVID death, which is not accurate.”
Wallace pushed back, “We’re talking specifically about the president claiming that doctors are inflating the number of COVID deaths. It’s a pretty serious thing to say about the nation’s doctors.”
“We have enormous respect for doctors who are serving the front-line patients, and they do an amazing job, by and large,” Lewandowski insisted.
On ABC’s “This Week,” George Stephanopoulos asked another Trump campaign adviser, Jason Miller, about Trump’s false claim. Miller responded by saying that he did not “think he was attacking anybody at all.”
“Jason, we all just saw it,” Stephanopoulos objected. “He was talking about doctors inflating Covid deaths for money.”
“I think there have been a number of reports that have raised issues out there regarding billing,” Miller answered without providing any specific examples.
A Trump adviser was also supposed to appear on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning, but the show’s anchor, Jake Tapper, said the interview was pulled without any explanation.
“We invited the White House to provide a guest for the show this morning. They declined. They pointed us to the Trump campaign,” Tapper explained. “The Trump campaign offered us their national press secretary, Hogan Gidley, whom we accepted. Then they rescinded the offer and offered senior advisor to the campaign David Bossie, whom we also accepted. They confirmed he would be here. Then they pulled him with no explanation, refusing to provide anyone else.”
Trump’s attack on first responders prompted a sharp rebuke from American Medical Association President Susan Bailey.
“The suggestion that doctors–in the midst of a public health crisis–are overcounting COVID-19 patients or lying to line their pockets is a malicious, outrageous, and completely misguided charge,” Bailey said in a statement Friday.
“Rather than attacking us and lobbing baseless charges at physicians, our leaders should be following the science and urging adherence to the public health steps we know work–wearing a mask, washing hands and practicing physical distancing,” Bailey added.
In a Thursday interview, Donald Trump Jr. Fox News host Laura Ingraham that coronavirus deaths had dropped to “almost nothing” and questioned the seriousness of the virus.
“I went through the CDC data, because I kept hearing about new infections, but I was like, ‘Why aren’t they talking about deaths?’ ” Trump Jr. said. “Oh, because the number is almost nothing. Because we’ve gotten control of this thing, we understand how it works. They have the therapeutics to be able to deal with this.”
Both he and Fox News were promptly chastised across social media, with healthcare professionals begging the network to stop broadcasting COVID misinformation.
Watch Jason Miller’s interview on “This Week” in the clip above.