MSNBC TRASHES Trump's Coronavirus Speech as a ‘Distraction,’ ‘Strange,’ ‘Weird,’ ‘Worrying’

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Predictably, MSNBC reacted to President Donald Trump’s Wednesday night address on the coronavirus with scorn, venom, vitriol, and downright fear that the Trump administration isn’t looking out for the safety of the American public. 

In various points throughout the first segment, the speech was panned as a “distraction,” “strange,” “weird,” “worrying,” and mocked as poorly delivered.

 

 

Host Rachel Maddow led off by seeming to not trash Trump’s words (that came later), but basking in his perceived inability to read a teleprompter:

It was about 11 minutes in the Oval Office there, the President, with a — sort of strange affect, he doesn't have an easy time reading from the teleprompter. It's got to be stressful for anybody to give a speech from the Oval Office from a teleprompter like that but still, the President seeming to struggle a little bit simply to get the words out. 

Former longtime Gore and Biden aide, former Ebola czar, and Biden political operative Ron Klain joined Maddow for much of the hour, doing his best to not so much offer suggestions of what should be done but invoke and slam the administration as much as possible. 

Why? Because, if Biden were to win the election, Klain would find himself back in government. So, in other words, power. Oh, and Orange Man Bad.

Klain first went after the idea of restricting travel, calling it “a lot of bluster” before arguing that the President didn’t touch “on what he is doing in this country to protect the American people from this disease that is here already.”

All In host Chris Hayes followed suit with more negative reactions (click “expand”):

You know, the expression, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When you have a wall, everything looks like an invasion, and that is the way they approached it from the beginning. We reported that, inside the White House, that there was sort of self congratulatory about the President banning travel from China and even though there were huge loopholes. They thought that would mean it wouldn't come here. That was some of the complacency they’ve had, it is profoundly worrying to me that the President is still talking about this in the way he talks about the migrant caravan, about some foreign invasion that — that can be kept out with strong measures. 

It's in the country and transmitting now. We are on the epidemic curve of the country of Italy. The place where he's banning travelers from. It may be at the margin smart or not, to do the travel ban, it is not the issue....[T]here are dramatic steps that have to be taken and coordinated and taking a lead from the federal government on social distancing and disruption of daily life that was, he didn't make more than 1/20 of that speech. 

Maddow returned a previous point condemning a travel ban exception for the U.K., using that to suggest Trump’s engaging in “irrationality” to which Klain trumpeted as a “classic Trump distraction tactic” by focusing on travel restrictions when it should be about “where he has failed.”

Klain added that “[i]t is a failure on the leadership of the Trump administration” and that’ll do “anything he can to move the conversation elsewhere” and away from his personal failure to not expand testing.

Instead of projecting calm, Maddow blasted the President’s claim that “the risk for” Americans to contract the coronavirus “is very, very low” and inferred that the risk is high (click “expand”):

MADDOW: Though it also struck me for the President to blunt say for the vast majority of Americans the risk is very, very, very low. Assuring Americans, like, you're not going to get it, meanwhile what we're hearing, from public health folks is we should prepare —

KLAIN: Yeah.

MADDOW: — that in epidemiological terms it is quite likely you might get it.

KLAIN: Right.

MADDOW: And that's the sort of thing we need to plan for and we need to plan our public health capacity as a country to deal with that. 

KLAIN: Right. Our health care system as wonderful as it is, it is a limited capacity. We have a million hospital bed capacity, 700 to 800,000 of them are full. It doesn't take much of an epidemic to overwhelm those systems, to have happen here what is happening in Italy — in northern Italy and I think once again, you heard the President make some slight references of this tonight, but if — if — I think if a competent president giving that address, it would have been first and foremost about fixing the testing problem and getting our health care system ready for this influx of cases. 

Pivoting to economic relief measures, Hayes, Klain, and Maddow collectively scoffed at any and all measures as merely handouts to only campaign donors, friends, and industries that would enrich the President. So there was that childishness too.

And before going to break, Maddow quipped that “it was a weird” Oval Office speech.

In other words, it’s all fear, all the time at MSNBC.

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show on March 11, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show
March 11, 2020
9:11 p.m. Eastern

RACHEL MADDOW: President Trump giving a rare Oval Office address on the subject of the coronavirus. It was about 11 minutes in the Oval Office there, the President, with a — sort of strange affect, he doesn't have an easy time reading from the teleprompter. It's got to be stressful for anybody to give a speech from the Oval Office from a teleprompter like that but still, the President seeming to struggle a little bit simply to get the words out. But there's some significant news on what the President just announced. The United States is suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. He said that will go into effect Friday at midnight, he said there will be exceptions. He didn't spell them out, but he talked about people who are adequately screened will be excepted from that, and something about cargo, I’m not — it wasn't clear, but he said there would be exceptions and then he added that there would be an exception for the U.K. So your travel from Europe will be suspended to the United States for the next 30 days. There will be exceptions. They’re a little woolly, but specifically the U.K. will be excepted from that. Not to single out the U.K. except for the fact that the president has. The last numbers I have seen from the U.K., it’s not that it has been an island in terms of being isolated from this crisis. It’s technically an island. But they’ve got cases, 486 cases, slightly lesser than the half that we've got but significantly smaller population and eight deaths, I think, reported as of the U.K., and why they have been exempted from this otherwise radical and potentially unprecedented action, I don't know. [INTRODUCES HAYES AND RON KLAIN] [TO KLAIN] And it is fortuitous that you are here on a night when we have a surprise Oval Office address from the President, let me just ask you about your top line response to a travel suspension from Europe. 

RON KLAIN: Well, I want to see what it looks like. I mean, the President boasts on the travel ban he put on from China several months ago. There were 13 exceptions to that ban and the fact of the matter remains, obviously, the disease came here from China. 

MADDOW: Yeah.

KLAIN: For example, the ban was a very business-friendly ban. It didn't prevent people from bringing boat loads of goods and Chinese crews to deliver the boat loads of goods and you heard a hint of that in the European travel ban. Of course it doesn't ban Americans from coming back, after some restrictions, that’s a lot of the transit back and forth. So I think there’s a lot of bluster in this travel bans. There, so far, hasn’t been much public health results in these travel bans and the fundamental point here, Rachel, is the disease is here. We don't know how much it’s here because we haven't tested to find out how much it’s here but it's here and so restricting foreign travel may slow the pace of the further spread here but the President should have focused tonight on what he is doing in this country to protect the American people from this disease that is here already and we didn't hear much about that tonight. 

MADDOW: Chris?

CHRIS HAYES: You know, the expression, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When you have a wall, everything looks like an invasion, and that is the way they approached it from the beginning. We reported that, inside the White House, that there was sort of self congratulatory about the President banning travel from China and even though there were huge loopholes. They thought that would mean it wouldn't come here. That was some of the complacency they’ve had, it is profoundly worrying to me that the President is still talking about this in the way he talks about the migrant caravan, about some foreign invasion that — that can be kept out with strong measures. It's in the country and transmitting now. We are on the epidemic curve of the country of Italy. The place where he's banning travelers from. It may be at the margin smart or not, to do the travel ban, it is not the issue. I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but spending all day talking to public health folks, and epidemiologists for the last week, there are dramatic steps that have to be taken and coordinated and taking a lead from the federal government on social distancing and disruption of daily life that was, he didn't make more —

KLAIN: Yeah.

HAYES: — than 1/20 of that speech. 

MADDOW: I don't mean to fixate on the U.K. exception, but to me, that sort of feels like the exception that proves the rule here 

HAYES: Yeah, right.

MADDOW: — that proves the irrationality of what he's doing and just looking at numbers, again, confirmed cases from various European countries which are now subject to a travel ban. Countries like Belgium have fewer cases than the U.K. does. Austria, Portugal, Ireland, Slovenia, Germany, I mean, Georgia, all of these countries have fewer cases than the U.K., and they'll be banned but the U.K. is all right. 

KLAIN: I think part of this, Rachel, is the classic Trump distraction tactic. He wants to see Progressives debate the travel ban so on and so forth.

MADDOW: Yeah.

KLAIN: And not come after where he has failed. We have tested five people out of every million in this country. In Korea, they’ve tested 2,000 out of every million in their country. There is no reason why South Korea, it doesn’t have technology we don’t or a health care system we don't have, or anything we don’t have. It is a failure on the leadership of the Trump administration. He is doing anything he can to move the conversation elsewhere and talk about something else and not focus the fact that, even tonight, even in that Oval Office address, all he can say about testing is we’re going to do more of it, sometime —

MADDOW: Yeah.

KLAIN: — to some number of people. We're getting there. 

MADDOW: We’re getting to it. 

KLAIN: We’re getting there, right? That’s — that's job one. That’s job number one. 

MADDOW: Though it also struck me for the President to blunt say for the vast majority of Americans the risk is very, very, very low. Assuring Americans, like, you're not going to get it, meanwhile what we're hearing, from public health folks is we should prepare —

KLAIN: Yeah.

MADDOW: — that in epidemiological terms it is quite likely you might get it.

KLAIN: Right.

MADDOW: And that's the sort of thing we need to plan for and we need to plan our public health capacity as a country to deal with that. 

KLAIN: Right. Our health care system as wonderful as it is, it is a limited capacity. We have a million hospital bed capacity, 700 to 800,000 of them are full. It doesn't take much of an epidemic to overwhelm those systems, to have happen here what is happening in Italy — in northern Italy and I think once again, you heard the President make some slight references of this tonight, but if — if — I think if a competent president giving that address, it would have been first and foremost about fixing the testing problem and getting our health care system ready for this influx of cases. 

HAYES: He also, just too — in terms of the way he approached this primarily is an economic issue and in the meetings he's had with various CEOs and connected industry groups, he announced what it sounded like a $200 billion tax deferral on the industries.

MADDOW: Yeah — under — under emergency power he will tell the Treasury to defer tax payments for individuals — certain individuals and businesses. 

HAYES: Yes. Again, there's a real question here, about what the actual economic relief looks like from — from an advocacy standpoint, is what is it actually happening people, and from a distribution standpoint and frankly from a corruption standpoint in terms of what the President and his donors are connected to. 

MADDOW: Is that fair? 

KLAIN: I think it is fair. I mean again, always with Trump, it's not what he says, it is what he does and we need to see what — who actually is going to benefit from these tax deferrals, where this money is going and given the track record, it’s not unfair to ask those questions tonight. 

MADDOW: We will take a quick break. Ron, we have a lot more questions for you tonight. Chris, I thank you 

HAYES: Thank you.

MADDOW: — for letting me step on your real estate, having me here.

HAYES: No, thank you.

MADDOW: Again, the President concluding an Oval Office address on coronavirus. It was a weird one. We'll be right back. Stay with us.

NB Daily Health Care Coronavirus MSNBC Rachel Maddow Show Rachel Maddow Chris Hayes Donald Trump Ron Klain
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