MSNBC Post-Debate: Biden Was ‘Pitch Perfect,’ ‘Nailed It’ on Virus in Contrast to Trump

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Like clockwork, MSNBC made clear Sunday night for viewers that, based on the debate performance (and their strong liberal biases), Americans should feel much better about the coronavirus coming under control if former Vice President Joe Biden takes the Oval Office. In the first hour, guests hailed Biden for having “nailed it” with his “pitch perfect” arguments (which consisted of him talking about lots of Situation Room meetings).

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson boasted that there “was a contrast between either of these candidates and President Trump” even though, between the two debaters, “their solutions…were essentially the same.”

 

 

“I think what really came across was the contrast of both of them saying, we'll listen to the doctors, we'll listen to --- we’ll follow where the science takes us, we'll treat this like a crisis and an emergency. And, you know, that compared to the way President Trump has --- has handled the crisis is --- the contrast could not be more stark,” Robinson added.

Briefly on a non-coronavirus note, he griped that “so much of the rest of the debate was 20 and 30-year-old opposition research about a vote that --- that one of them took in the Senate or in the House years ago” which “I don't think that's really uppermost in voters' minds.”

Also in that A-block, former Senator-turned-MSNBC political analyst Claire McCaskill (D-MO) hailed Biden for correctly poking holes on single-payer health care considering the fact that Italy has found itself in an apocalyptic-level state on the virus even though they have that system.

In that next segment, Last Word host Lawrence O’Donnell invited to liberal health care doctors to sound off on the night. Former Obama official Dr. Peter Hotez gushed that while “nobody said anything bad tonight,” Biden “was really pitch-perfect tonight” plus the fact that “he's been through some of this before.”

This omitted the fact that Ebola, H1N1, and Zika were far less lethal, but MSNBC had a narrative to push, so forget about that.

Hotez knocked Sanders for his tangent about pharmaceuticals amidst the crisis and reiterated that “he wasn’t bad,” but he concluded with more praise for his former cohort: “[I]n terms of the real big-picture stuff that needs to be done, the vice president was definitely ahead.”

Dr. Vin Gupta followed suit, said he would “echo what Dr. Hotez said, which is, you know, pandemic preparedness is not necessarily about strong primary health care system alone, it's about building capabilities that you can rapidly scale and deploy.”

Gupta fretted that Medicare for All has “unfortunately….become so political,” but agreed that “Biden really nailed it” in what must be done.

Before a break, Gupta and O’Donnell condemned the President’s insistence that Americans shouldn’t be engaging in panic buying and the retail supply chain will continue (click “expand”):

O’DONNELL: Dr. Gupta, the President today recited the names of the CEOs and the heads of all sorts of retailing companies out there and in invoking their names, told Americans to not worry about being able to get things that they want to buy at their local stores, and they shouldn't go out there and load up on things, they should just buy the normal amount that they would buy anyway, but no one out there knows whether their local stores, including the guys who run these giant chains, they don't know if the workers in Seattle are going to be able to come to work next week. They don't know if the workers at a supermarket or a neighborhood market in New York are going to be able to come to work next week and that, in my perception, being out in there in those stores, is what's driving those lines and this buying that might look like hoarding, but it may be real provisioning for basically a locking-down of the restaurant business that we're seeing getting increasingly restricted, especially in New York City now.

GUPTA: Well, I think you've nailed it, Lawrence. There's uncertainty on the side of the American people which I think is driving these natural instincts. There's a feeling of a loss of agency by everybody. You know, the 65 --- 65-year-old patient with lung disease that I will see in clinic. I empower them to say, these are the things that you can do to take care of your health. We're losing that ability to say, individual empowerment will keep you healthy. We're shifting the paradigm and saying, help thy neighbor through things like social distancing. I think the problem here too is in addition to that uncertainty on the American people's side, us in the public health community are also uncertain. We don't know how many people are infected. What's the infection fatality rate? Not just the case fatality rate. How many people are truly infected? That's important information to know, we don't know it yet because we don't have broad testing, so there's a lot of uncertainty across all sectors here.

CNN's post-debate analysis was on a similar page with their praise of Biden.

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s post-debate coverage on March 15, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Decision 2020: Post-Debate Analysis
March 15, 2020
10:08 p.m. Eastern

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: Gene Robinson, the first hour of the debate spent on a subject that hadn't been occupying any significant space in the previous debates, the coronavirus.

EUGENE ROBINSON: That's absolutely right and I think the --- the --- really the --- what I drew from that first hour of debate was a contrast between either of these candidates and President Trump. Their solutions to the --- to the --- to how to confront the coronavirus were essentially the same. They got into a back and forth over, you know, Biden saying, look, you don't need a revolution, you don't need Medicare for All to deal with the coronavirus. And then it got into the, you know, the health care discussion argument that we have --- we have heard before. I think what really came across was the contrast of both of them saying, we'll listen to the doctors, we'll listen to --- we’ll follow where the science takes us, we'll treat this like a crisis and an emergency. And, you know, that compared to the way President Trump has --- has handled the crisis is --- the contrast could not be more stark. I thought that overall it was --- the news was president --- Vice President Biden saying he was going to choose a woman, and it was news because so much of the rest of the debate was 20 and 30-year-old opposition research about a vote that --- that one of them took in the Senate or in the House years ago. I don't think that's really uppermost in voters' minds and I think Biden took the opportunity to sort of pitch things forward and to make that news. He also, I believe, said he would name an African-American woman to the Supreme Court.

(….)

10:13 p.m. Eastern

CLAIRE MCCASKILL: You know, and I thought on the coronavirus thing, I want to make one point, Lawrence. I thought that Joe Biden's maybe strongest comeback to Bernie on the Medicare for All point was pointing out that Italy has a single-payer government-run system and we all know what has happened to the health care system in Italy in light of the coronavirus, gently pointing out that just having a single-payer system is not the answer to every crisis, medical crisis, that our country faces.

(….)

10:26 p.m. Eastern

O’DONNELL: Dr. Hotez, do you think the candidates did match the right level of urgency tonight?

DR. PETER HOTEZ: Well, you know, nobody said anything bad tonight, neither Senator Sanders nor Vice President Biden. Clearly, the vice president was at an advantage because you know, he's been through some of this before, he's been through H1N1 as vice president, he's been through Ebola, he's been through Zika. So I thought the vice president was really pitch perfect tonight. I thought he really nailed it and a lot of those elements -- maybe not going quite as far as the governors I would have liked, but he was quite strong. Bernie Sanders, Senator Sanders, you know, really was sort of stuck to his talking points about health care for all, which is fine, and, you know, it's relevant to this, but he couldn't really nail down the big pieces that the American --- that America needs to do now. The other thing he said which was factually incorrect is the drug companies are profiting off of this coronavirus infection. You know, we're trying to --- we've developed a vaccine for a coronavirus, we can't get the big pharma players interested at all because there's no money to be made for coronavirus, so on that one he was a bit tone deaf. As I said, he wasn't bad. He talked about the importance of access to health care, but in terms of the real big-picture stuff that needs to be done, the vice president was definitely ahead.

O’DONNELL: Dr. Gupta, what was your reaction to what you heard from the presidential candidates tonight?

DR. VIN GUPTA: Well, I'll echo what Dr. Hotez said, which is, you know, pandemic preparedness is not necessarily about strong primary health care system alone, it's about building capabilities that you can rapidly scale and deploy. It's about a health care workforce that's ready. Point of care testing that we have a pipeline for. Vaccines on the ready. Having public, private, and nonprofit organizations working in concert. We didn't have that. We haven't had that pre-Ebola, we haven't had that with COVID-19. It's having those pieces on the ready and being able to scale them up rapidly that we need. Vice President Biden talks about that. Senator Sanders talks about Medicare for All, which I think, unfortunately, has become so political that we're politicizing now this response to COVID-19. I don't think we need that right now. We need more of a focus on what's going to bend the curve with the response to COVID-19, I thought Biden really nailed it.

O’DONNELL: Dr. Gupta, the President today recited the names of the CEOs and the heads of all sorts of retailing companies out there and in invoking their names, told Americans to not worry about being able to get things that they want to buy at their local stores, and they shouldn't go out there and load up on things, they should just buy the normal amount that they would buy anyway, but no one out there knows whether their local stores, including the guys who run these giant chains, they don't know if the workers in Seattle are going to be able to come to work next week. They don't know if the workers at a supermarket or a neighborhood market in New York are going to be able to come to work next week and that, in my perception, being out in there in those stores, is what's driving those lines and this buying that might look like hoarding, but it may be real provisioning for basically a locking-down of the restaurant business that we're seeing getting increasingly restricted, especially in New York City now.

GUPTA: Well, I think you've nailed it, Lawrence. There's uncertainty on the side of the American people which I think is driving these natural instincts. There's a feeling of a loss of agency by everybody. You know, the 65 --- 65-year-old patient with lung disease that I will see in clinic. I empower them to say, these are the things that you can do to take care of your health. We're losing that ability to say, individual empowerment will keep you healthy. We're shifting the paradigm and saying, help thy neighbor through things like social distancing. I think the problem here too is in addition to that uncertainty on the American people's side, us in the public health community are also uncertain. We don't know how many people are infected. What's the infection fatality rate? Not just the case fatality rate. How many people are truly infected? That's important information to know, we don't know it yet because we don't have broad testing, so there's a lot of uncertainty across all sectors here.

NB Daily 2020 Presidential Debates Health Care Coronavirus Medical Insurance MSNBC Other MSNBC Video Eugene Robinson Lawrence O'Donnell Claire McCaskill Donald Trump Joe Biden Bernie Sanders
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