Coronavirus as a Cudgel: NYT's Baker Spreads Anti-Trump Fever on Front Page

March 9th, 2020 5:57 PM

On the front of Monday’s New York Times, Peter Baker savored how the coronavirus had become a political headache for President Trump: “Twitter Pulpit Is No Match For Viral Foe.”

Baker raises some defensible criticisms of some of Trump’s statements (while only briefly noting vital steps the President took over indignant liberal opposition, like imposing restrictions on travelers from China and Iran). But Baker’s overall tone matched the feverish anti-Trump exaggeration typical of Baker (remember John Bolton’s “smoking gun” from late January? How did that work out?).

Baker, who has referred to Trump as “a foulmouthed, thrice-married vulgarian,” uses this health crisis to attack the president in personal terms, from his perch as White House correspondent.

He lined up his anti-Trump gotchas (actual significance uncertain) right at the start (click “expand”):

Defending against criticism of his handling of the coronavirus, President Trump suggested the other day that he could hardly have been expected to be ready for such an unexpected crisis.

“Who would have thought?” he asked during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nerve center for the government’s response to the outbreak. “Who would have thought we would even be having the subject?”

Actually, quite a few people would have thought, and did -- including the officials in his own White House who were in charge of preparing for just such a pandemic only to have their office shut down in a reorganization in 2018. “The threat of pandemic flu is the No. 1 health security concern,” one of the officials said the day before that happened two years ago. “Are we ready to respond? I fear the answer is no.”


He has expressed an astonishing lack of knowledge while at the same time claiming to be a medical savant. He has treated the crisis as a partisan battle, wearing his red Keep America Great campaign cap to the C.D.C. and calling the governor presiding over the state with the highest death toll a “snake.” He even admitted that he wanted to leave passengers stranded on a cruise ship rather than see statistics for the number of cases on American soil go up because it would look bad.

So quarantines are bad now that Trump favors them?

Not even the First Lady was exempt:

The first lady did not make the trip to Florida, but she faced a fiddling-while-Rome-burns blowback of her own over the weekend after posting online photographs of herself in a hard hat overseeing the privately financed construction of a new tennis pavilion at the White House.

This same journalist appeared in a separate story in Monday’s paper boasting of his flawless, perfect objectivity:

....I don’t belong to any political party, I don’t belong to any non-journalism organization, I don’t support any candidate, I don’t give money to interest groups and I don’t vote. I try hard not to take strong positions on public issues even in private, much to the frustration of friends and family.