Donald Trump’s epic string of lies about coronavirus is impressive enough on its own, but it looks even worse when you compare it with former Vice President Joe Biden’s public statements on the same topic. Greg Sargent did just that, with a devastating timeline.
Bear in mind that Biden doesn’t command the airwaves every time he decides to clear his throat. He doesn’t get daily press briefings to stroke his own ego. He has to make what he says count—like writing a USA Today op-ed on January 27 warning that the outbreak “will get worse before it gets better” and that “I am concerned that the Trump administration’s shortsighted policies have left us unprepared for a dangerous epidemic that will come sooner or later.”
That op-ed came three days after Trump said “It will all work out well” and three days before Trump said “We think we have it very well under control.” The day after Trump said “We think we have it very well under control,” on January 31, Biden told reporters “We have, right now, a crisis with the coronavirus” and “This is no time for Donald Trump's record of hysteria and xenophobia—hysterical xenophobia—and fearmongering to lead the way instead of science.” The day after that, Biden emphasized the same point, tweeting “We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science—not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. He is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency.”
Trump, the next day: “We pretty much shut it down, coming in from China.” Eight days later, on February 10, he made his unsubstantiated claim that coronavirus would go away when the weather got warm. Biden responded the next day by slamming that claim on Morning Joe.
In late February, Trump made some of his most notorious claims about coronavirus, from that it was “going very substantially down, not up” to “It’s going to disappear. One day—it’s like a miracle—it will disappear” to that it was a Democratic “hoax.”
On February 28, Biden went on CNN to say “You need to let the experts speak,” running through several of the ways Trump had weakened U.S. pandemic response. “This is not a way to run a nation, this is not a way to reassure the world.”
From March 9 to 13, Trump again made a series of statements dangerously downplaying the dangers of COVID-19, including the notorious “It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”
On March 12, Biden gave a major speech on coronavirus and presidential truthtelling, unveiling his own plan, which included expanded testing, emergency paid sick leave, and more. “No president can promise to prevent future outbreaks,” he said. “But I can promise you this: When I’m president, we will be better prepared; we will respond better and recover better. We will lead with science. We will listen to the experts.” In sharp contrast to Trump, he pledged “I’ll always tell you the truth.”
That was the day before Trump said “I don’t take responsibility at all.”
Two days later, Biden wrote, “It is the job of the President to take responsibility—and his response is unacceptable,” while renewing his call for expanded—and free—testing.
It can be difficult for Biden to break through to the news in the current environment, while Trump has seized the microphone and is the main mouthpiece for his administration’s response. But while Trump has said a lot more (in public, at least) about coronavirus, it’s clear who is advocating for truth-telling, for the more effective response, and for the more serious attention to this as a danger to human life rather than personal political prospects.
Published with permission of Daily Kos