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26 Feb, 2020 23:10

Weaponizing the coronavirus: Why US politicians & media suddenly care (hint: it’s about getting Trump)

Weaponizing the coronavirus: Why US politicians & media suddenly care (hint: it’s about getting Trump)

After weeks of denouncing “conspiracy theories” about the spread of coronavirus, US media and Democrats are suddenly concerned, accusing President Donald Trump of not doing enough to stop it. How about a political quarantine?

While over 2,000 people have died from the COVID-19 novel coronavirus – almost all in China so far – and the contagion has spread to Europe and the Middle East in recent days, there has been no spike in the number of US cases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a total of 59 Americans have tested positive for the bug – most of them among those repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, and the rest with some connection to the contagion’s epicenter in Wuhan. 

Yet the newest talking points, pushed by Democrats and media NeverTrumpers alike, would have Americans believe that the virus is not contained, that Trump has gutted the government’s ability to respond to it, and his administration doesn’t know what it’s doing.

There is even a campaign ad by billionaire media mogul and aspiring DNC presidential candidate Mike Bloomerg, because of course there is.

This is a sudden and remarkable change of heart, for over the past several weeks the Democrats have been largely silent about the coronavirus, while the mainstream media was busily dismissing speculation about the virus as “conspiracy theories… debunked by experts”  and denounced as “unjust” Trump’s decision to restrict travel to and from China.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the CDC official overseeing the coronavirus response, announced on Tuesday that Americans should prepare for “severe” disruption of everyday life, adding that the the spread of coronavirus is not a question of whether but when. 

“We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad,” she said, even as the Department of Health and Human Services was arguing the exact opposite.

Also on rt.com ‘Just a question of when’: CDC warns Americans coronavirus may cause ‘SEVERE’ disruption of everyday life

Between Dr. Messonier’s warning, amplified by nearly every media outlet, and the economic slowdown as the result of quarantines in China, US stock markets went into a nosedive, wiping out all the gains since the beginning of the year. 

Trump, who just returned from a whirlwind trip to India, responded by accusing “Low Ratings Fake News” of “panicking markets” and saying he would hold a coronavirus press conference on Wednesday evening. 

While it may seem callous of Trump to be focusing on the markets rather than public health, keep in mind that some Democrats have openly called for a recession“even if it hurts people,” as a way of taking over the White House come November.

Meanwhile, conservative pundits were quick to point out that Dr. Messonnier is the sister of former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the official who oversaw the ‘Russiagate’ probe by special counsel Robert Mueller and signed one of the FISA warrant applications for spying on the Trump campaign – clearly insinuating there might have been a political motivation behind her alarmist remarks on Tuesday.

Whatever the truth about the coronavirus might be, what is abundantly clear from all of this is that America has a serious case of political contagion, in which nothing – not even a legitimate public health emergency – can avoid being weaponized for political purposes by people lusting for power. It would be laughable, if it weren’t so life-threatening.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.