And this focus on credit and blame was particularly conspicuous during Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing.
“It’s been incredible how we’ve done,” Trump said of testing. He would go on to say no fewer than five times that the United States has tested more people than South Korea and/or any other country, which ignores early failures and plenty of nuance such as population size.
“We’ve done one hell of a job; nobody’s done the job that we’ve done,” Trump said.
Self congratulation, a feature of the daily coronavirus news conferences at the White House, is especially pronounced today — even as death toll rises, unemployment surges, hospitals are overwhelmed, and state and local leaders warn of worse to come over not weeks but months.— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) March 25, 2020
“It’s hard not to be happy with the job we’re doing; that I can tell you,” he said after claiming New York’s governor and New York City’s mayor were happy with the number of ventilators they have received, despite them asking for many more.
“We’ve come a long way from an obsolete, broken system that I inherited,” he said at another point.
“We’re the ones that gave the great response, and we’re the ones that kept China out of here, and if I didn’t do it, you’d have thousands and thousands of people died — who would have died that are now living and happy,” he added, pointing to his favorite example of the alleged success of his response: travel restrictions from China.
In all, I counted well more than two dozen instances at Wednesday’s briefing in which Trump hailed the success of the coronavirus response or pointed to the obstacles he has faced. These passages constituted about 25 percent of all the words Trump spoke — more than 1,500 words out of about 6,000 spoken. That is more time than he spent conveying details about the coronavirus response.
In many other instances, he downplayed the threat of the virus or optimistically wagered that we are winning or will win the battle in relatively short order.
Here’s a key for the transcript below:
- Green = Self-congratulations/blaming others or obstacles
- Yellow = Downplaying the threat/offering an optimistic forecast
- Blue = Offering information about the response
This is an inherently subjective exercise, and what one person sees as self-congratulations (in green) may be viewed differently by another. There is also something to be said for encouraging the country and being optimistic, but I tried to highlight passages (in yellow) in which Trump put a significantly rosier spin on things than health officials did and suggested we can reopen the economy in short order.
As for the actual information (in blue), I tried to focus on things that offered important details about the response and Trump’s plans without spinning them in one direction or another.
(If you want to see a larger image of each portion of the transcript, right-click on it and view the image in a new tab.)