Right-wing media praise Trump for “bold and decisive action” but experts say his travel restrictions are not enough
After President Donald Trump announced this week that travel from Europe would be restricted, right-wing media immediately praised Trump’s decision and his overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, medical experts have disputed Trump’s actions, saying that “it's no longer a travel-related illness” and will instead require “millions of test kits in the hands of epidemiologists.”
On March 11, the administration announced a 30-day ban on travel by foreign nationals into the United States if they have been in Europe’s Schengen Area, which does not have passport and customs controls, in the 14 days prior to their arrival. Trump mischaracterized the policy while announcing it in a speech, saying that he was “suspending all travel from Europe to the United States,” with the exception of the United Kingdom. The administration clarified the extent of the policy after his speech.
This travel restriction came amid widespread criticism that the administration is not doing enough to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Since it was first detected in the city of Wuhan, China, more than 130,000 people globally have contracted the virus, with no signs of the pandemic slowing down. In the United States, there are now more than 2,200 confirmed cases as of publication.
Prior to Trump’s announcement, the World Health Organization had already declared that travel restrictions are “ineffective in most situations and may divert resources from other interventions,” and public health experts expressed similar skepticism following the administration’s confusing rollout of the new policy. On MSNBC, Johns Hopkins infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja noted, “It's no longer a travel-related illness.” He went on to say that the perception of COVID-19 as a “foreign virus” has “constrained testing and made doctors hesitant to test,” and travel bans “give people this false sense of security.”
Experts also questioned the administration’s decision to exempt the United Kingdom from the travel restriction, noting that although Trump said that they are “doing a very good job” the number of cases there is actually increasing.
Other experts noted the need for additional measures, particularly the importance of increasing testing. On CNN Newsroom, epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant said:
We don't know that there are cases in the United States of any epidemiological consequence that are coming from Europe because we don't know where the cases that we have are. Almost all of them are now coming from inside the United States. We need to get millions of test kits out there. … We can’t stop this disease unless we have millions of test kits in the hands of epidemiologists.
Even Trump’s own former homeland security adviser tweeted that we will “wish we focused more on hospital preparation and large scale community mitigation.”
Ignoring pushback from public health experts, right-wing media immediately praised Trump, continuing the effort to shield him from criticism for the administration’s botched response. Fox News hosts and guests, along with other right-wing media figures, have said that Trump’s travel restriction is a “bold and decisive action” and that it “showed leadership.” They also took the opportunity to praise Trump’s overall response to the pandemic, including his earlier ban on travel from China.
Notable examples of right-wing media praising Trump’s response include:
Trump took “bold and decisive action” by banning European travel
On Fox & Friends, Vice President Mike Pence said that Trump “took decisive action” to stop the outbreak. Trump War Room, which is a Twitter account managed by the Trump campaign, shared this segment with its 521,000 followers.
Right-wing radio host Bill Mitchell said, “Once this thing all wraps up around July, ... Trump will be credited with taking the bold moves required.”
Fox News contributor Sara Carter said, “Thank God for Trump's decisive action.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that Trump “has taken bold action in response to the #Coronavirus.”
Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel said that he would “absolutely applaud” the president’s “bold move.”
- Washington Examiner’s Kaylee McGhee wrote that Trump’s strategy “is exactly what the country needs” and his leadership “will continue to be tested,” but “this is a step in the right direction.”
Trump was “presidential” and showed “leadership” in announcing the restrictions
Appearing on Fox News' Hannity, Siegel said that the travel restriction is “bold, it’s very presidential, and it's leadership.” During the same segment, former White House physician Dr. Ronnie Jackson said that Trump’s response was “what leadership looks like.”
Right-wing troll and Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec tweeted that “Trump showed range and leadership tonight,” declaring, “He is meeting the moment.”
Right-wing conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich tweeted that it was a “strong speech from Trump,” and said he “is rising to the crisis.”
Right-wing radio host Ben Ferguson tweeted that “we should all be proud of [Trump's] leadership on fighting #coronavirus.” Ferguson later posted the same message on Facebook.
On Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) said, “Donald Trump was presidential tonight, showing leadership, laying out very specific things, calming the American public, letting them know how serious this is but what steps are being taken.”
Other praise for Trump and his administration’s “unprecedented steps” to slow the spread
Host Sean Hannity spent much of his March 11 Fox News show praising Trump for his actions in response to coronavirus. He claimed that Trump “is not leading from behind” and said that “no president has ever done more, acted more quickly to slow the spread of a disease.”
Later in the show, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) also praised Trump’s travel restriction from Europe and praised other actions, such as the ban on travel from China. He noted that Trump is “the exact type of leader that we need in the White House.”
Fox News host Laura Ingraham said, “Thank goodness we have a president who actually cares about the American worker, the American family, and is doing everything in his power now to learn from whatever happened early on and to fix it and get through this.” Ingraham continued her praise, saying, “The president has great judgment, he has great political and managerial skills.”
On Fox & Friends, Pence said, “The American people have seen, once again, that President Trump has no higher priority than the health and safety of the people of this country.”
On his radio show, Hannity praised Trump, saying that “we will not be able to even calculate the number of Americans that did not contract this disease because the president acted in unprecedented ways.”
- On his radio show, conservative host Mark Levin claimed that the president “has really done a great job on this so far and he ought to get credit for it.”