President Donald Trump is focused not on a long-term plan to slow the novel coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., but on doing what is necessary to get re-elected in November. Part of that decision-making process is guided by a “positive feedback loop” created by those surrounding him, The Washington Post reports.
According to several sources who spoke with the Washington Post, aides and officials in Trump’s White House are focused on keeping the president happy rather than presenting him with the hard truth about COVID-19.
“Everyone is busy trying to create a Potemkin village for him every day. You’re not supposed to see this behavior in liberal democracies that are founded on principles of rule of law. Everyone bends over backwards to create this Potemkin village for him and for his inner circle,” one senior administration official said.
Anthony Scaramucci, who was Trump’s communications director for a short period in 2017, said that there used to be people in the administration who would block Trump’s worst impulses, but those people are gone now. What is left is a group of individuals who indulge him, he claimed.
“It was John Bolton or H.R. McMaster on national security or John Kelly. Now there are no domino blockers,” he said.
In order to make things look better for the president, aides are allegedly selective about the media commentary that they show him, and they present him with charts and statistics that paint the U.S. coronavirus response in a more positive light.
This famously played out on television during an interview on Fox News with Chris Wallace. Wallace pointed out that the U.S. has a high mortality rate, to which Trump asked his press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, to show him one of his charts.
That chart painted the country’s response in a more flattering light than some others, but as some people noted, it left off key countries, which made the U.S. look better off than it actually was.
The Washington Post reports that this “positive feedback loop” extends to criticizing the president on certain decisions he has made, like withdrawing the country from the World Health Organization. Those surrounding him are reportedly unwilling to speak out.
“Everybody is too scared of their own shadow to speak the truth,” one senior official said.
Some have noted that when Trump’s experts contradict his public stance, they are attacked by individuals in the administration, as both Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci have been in recent days, something Birx has reportedly been bothered by.