The Leader Who Cried ‘Wolf’

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On Friday 2nd October, in classic Trump fashion, a tweet was posted announcing he and Melania Trump had been tested positive for Covid-19.

After months of understating the effects of COVID, Trump has caught the virus that he so often dismissed and continues to dismiss even now. It was an event hosted by the White House which has been dubbed the “super-spreader event”.

The Guardian’s timeline of the events leading up to Trump’s infection reveals that there are many discrepancies in the information which was revealed to the public surrounding his condition.

Of course, this is not the first time that doctors of world leaders have underplayed the gravity of their condition. In an attempt not to panic the public, information is handed to us with gaps and causes a more chaotic response than the truth would have done.

In her article in New Statesman, Sarah Manavis argues that ‘in the environment of “alternative facts” that the president has helped to create, many are asking why they should believe that he has Covid-19. This argument is compelling, after so many years of encouraging conspiracy theories, Trump is finally receiving backlash himself.

Trump’s presidency has bred these conspiracy theories. In 2010 he supported the conspiracy theory surrounding Barack Obama’s ineligibility to become president, calling to release his birth certificate. Now Trump is under similar pressure to release his test results.

Some conspiracy theories include Trump deliberately contracting Covid to gain him sympathy votes. Another suggests that he is only pretending to have been infected to show that the impact on health is minor. The QAnon conspiracy theory says ‘Trump’s “illness” is tactical’.

Shockingly, these theories don’t seem surprising with regard to Trump. It seems plausible that he could tactically lie to the whole world just to prove a point. Or does it? His tweet, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life”, suggests he is already using it as a way to prove Covid is not as serious as scientists say. Many have reacted to his tweets with horror after having been affected by the virus personally and losing loved ones to it.

The widow of actor Nick Cordero, who died from coronavirus in July, responded to the tweet having been hurt by the lack of empathy shown by the president. She said “Unfortunately it did dominate our lives didn’t it? It dominated Nick’s family’s lives and my family’s lives. I guess we ‘let it’ – like it was our choice?” Amanda Kloots is not the only one to feel personally hurt by such brash dismissals of the virus, in tweets no less.

Tsion Firew, emergency room doctor in New York said, “I’m just so sad that those frontline providers, like my three colleagues who died from Covid, that their lives were lost in vain. And he’s just insulted their sacrifice.”

Throughout his illness, Trump has been given an “experimental antibody cocktail”, as The New York Times put it. Trump later argued this mixture of treatments should be made “free” for anyone who needs it. This has not been the first time that Trump has recommended unapproved Covid-19 treatments.

Dr Megan Ranney, an emergency physician at Brown University says that “It’s like the boy who cried wolf. It’s going to make it more difficult to get the real changers” as the treatments he’s recommended haven’t been approved and there’s no way of knowing if they’re fully effective yet.

The president’s handling of coronavirus from the beginning has been haphazard and unpredictable. And so, it is unsurprising that he would treat his illness in the same way. Conspiracy theories aside, it is clear that any leader who is being asked to prove his medical status is not a suitable candidate for running a country.

Ana Hill Lopez-Menchero

Featured Image Source: The New Yorker