White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, appearing on Fox News’ Fox & Friends program on Monday morning, suggested that media reports about the spread of coronavirus and criticism from Democrats over the administration’s response so far to the disease are nothing more than scare tactics meant to help them politically.
“I just want to stress to politicians and the media to stop using this as a tool to politicize things and to scare people,” Grisham said in her Fox News interview.
The Press Secretary added that people need to be “treating this like the flu,” a sentiment that World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned against holding just last week.
“This virus is not SARS, it’s not MERS, and it’s not influenza. It is a unique virus with unique characteristics,” Tedros said.
That didn’t deter Grisham, apparently, who continued on her rant during the morning program. “This is absolutely not the time to be trying to scare people to gain political points or make headlines,” she said.
Yet the disease’s spread has produced a number of reasonable reactions, including school closures in some areas, travel restrictions, and reactions from Wall Street as coronavirus continues to move throughout the world.
Within the United States, more cases were being reported. As of when Grisham made her comments on Monday morning, more than 500 cases were positively identified in the U.S., and at least 22 deaths came as a result of COVID-19.
Trump has been criticized for a number of things related to coronavirus, including not having enough test kits ready, making false claims about the number of infected set to go down (when experts have said it’s going to go up), and suggesting the virus could die out by the time spring temperatures arrive.
Even so, Trump himself complained on Twitter over the weekend about the portrayal of his response so far to the disease’s spread.
We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House for our attack on CoronaVirus. We moved VERY early to close borders to certain areas, which was a Godsend. V.P. is doing a great job. The Fake News Media is doing everything possible to make us look bad. Sad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 8, 2020
“The Fake News Media is doing everything possible to make us look bad. Sad!” he wrote.
Chris Walker is a freelance journalist based in Madison, Wisconsin, who focuses on news, politics, and analysis of world events. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, since 2005 Chris has reported on workers’ rights protests in Wisconsin, opined on four separate presidential elections and written on a number of other political subjects for a variety of national online publications.