The Banter Brief: Coronavirus Hell, A Cure On The Way, And Tucker Carlson's Extraordinary Intervention

Things are going terribly. But there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s edition of The Banter Brief! In these extremely challenging times, we are offering Banter Memberships at a 50% discount. Independent media is now more important than ever given the need for accurate information and insight, and we are committed to running at full capacity during this crisis. You’ll be able to read all premium articles, have access to our locked archive, and be able to participate in reader discussions. You can get your membership below!:

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NOTE: We just started a brand new podcast here at The Banter. We rolled out the first episode for Banter Members last week, but wanted to make this week’s episode free for everyone. It’s early stages and we are just figuring out how to get reliable sound quality, so please bear with us. This week, Ben Cohen and Mike Luciano discuss Trump's atrocious handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and why he only started caring after the stock market took a big hit:

1. Most Important Story Of The Week

Coronavirus Is Upending The World

No surprise here. The rapid spreading of COVID -19 has basically ground the US (and world) to a stand still. To review:

The global stock market is in free fall, millions of workers are being laid off, small businesses are collapsing, and no one knows how they are going to be able to pay to live in the coming months. Last night, governor Gavin Newsom ordered a “stay at home” order for Californians. Infection rates surged in the DC metro area. There is a nationwide ventilator shortage. The U.S. will close its borders with Mexico and Canada this weekend. And in the West, we are only at the beginning of the crisis.

We are facing an unprecedented global catastrophe with no real understanding of how to navigate our way out of it. To illustrate how quickly facts on the ground change government responses to the crisis, Britain had to reverse their strategy for dealing with COVID-19 almost overnight after reading a grim report about the catastrophic effects of limited social distancing and isolation in Italy, where 627 people died today from the virus:

What changed was new data on the impact of Italy’s out-of-control epidemic on its health service. Basically, it is catastrophic, with 30% of hospitalised patients having to be admitted to intensive care. The teams of modellers at Imperial College and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who advise government crunched those numbers – and the death toll and pressure on the NHS that came out were unacceptable.

The more stringent social distancing and isolation measures will save thousands and thousands of lives — but at a cost. The distancing will have to go on for months, and the virus may well break out again in the Autumn and we’ll have to start all over again.

While this might sound grim, it is important to get a full and accurate picture of what is happening so we can craft a response to the pandemic. There are clues from countries like China, Singapore and South Korea on how to drastically limit damage in the short term, and there are extremely promising trials using the anti malarial drug Hydroxychloroquine.

We know that at some point, the pandemic will end, but the question is how long it will take, and how much damage it will do.

Go deeper with Banter Members: We’re Trapped Between Act I and Act II of Trump’s Pandemic Horror Movie

Half the country is dancing away while the rest of us are staring in disbelief at the sheer stupidity, says Justin Rosario.

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2. Poll Analysis

Corona Handling: After failing to take the crisis seriously for months and dragging his feet on taking preventative measures, Trump’s complete 180 on the Coronavirus outbreak has somewhat assured Americans he is behaving responsibly:

An ABC News/Ipsos poll released Friday reports that 55 percent of respondents approve of Trump’s management of the public health crisis, while 43 percent disapprove. The latest figures represent a boost in the president’s rating from the previous iteration of the survey, published one week ago, which showed only 43 percent approval for Trump and 54 percent disapproval.

Trump’s Approval: The president’s overall approval rating average has barely budged since last week (up from 42.1% to 42.9%) .

Biden vs Trump: It is clear now that Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee for President, so we won’t be looking at Bernie Sanders’ numbers from now on. According to a Real Clear Politics polling average, Biden still beats Trump almost across the board, and also in swing states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that would give him a lead in the electoral college.

3. Quote Of The Week

“You may have seen news reports this afternoon that Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee sold more than a million dollars in stock in mid-February after learning about how devastating the Chinese coronavirus could be. He had inside information about what could happen to our country, which is now happening, but he didn't warn the public. He didn't give a primetime address. He didn't go on television to sound the alarm. He didn't even disavow an op-ed he'd written just 10 days before claiming America was "better prepared than ever for coronavirus." He didn't do any of those things. Instead, what did he do? He dumped his shares in hotel stocks so he wouldn't lose money and then he stayed silent. Maybe there is an honest explanation for what he did. If there is, he should share it with the rest of us immediately. Otherwise, he must resign from the Senate and face prosecution for insider trading. There is no greater moral crime than betraying your country in a time crisis and that appears to be what happened.”

- Tucker Carlson speaking about Senator Bill Burr on his Fox News show, Thursday March 19th. Carlson, it should be noted, was also (partly) responsible for making Donald Trump take the Coronavirus seriously after he made an extraordinary intervention and confronted the president in Mar-a-Lago.

4. What to Watch

Rather than telling you what to watch this week, we’d really like to hear from you, our wonderful readers. If you have suggestions on what do watch during these extremely trying times, please leave a review in the comments section below of what you are watching and we’ll post next week.

The rules are: the show can’t be about the end of the world, deadly pandemics, disease, leaving earth for Mars etc, etc. The news is grim enough, so we’d love to have some uplifting, funny series or movies to watch while we are all stuck inside!

5. Good News

There’s quite a lot actually, and not just potential cures for Coronavirus as we mentioned above. Global CO2 levels are dropping rapidly, and wildlife is coming back to major cities around the world. While the effects of Coronavirus are undoubtedly terrible right now, the long term effects on society and the economy could actually be extraordinarily positive. Why? Because during times of panic and fear, we turn to each other for comfort. During times of isolation, we crave human contact and interaction and value it even more. During times of collapse, we learn quickly that we must all work together to rebuild. The virus does not care about wealth, race, gender, nation or political affiliation and it is forcing us to put aside our differences for the good of all. And above everything else, it is reminding us that The Earth is in control and not us. As hard as this might be, this is a necessary lesson for us to learn, and we may be able to figure out a new way of being in the world when this is all over.

Chin up, and have a great weekend everyone!

Read the latest for Banter Members:

Get 50% off for 1 year

We’re Trapped Between Act I and Act II of Trump’s Pandemic Horror Movie

Half the country is dancing away while the rest of us are staring in disbelief at the sheer stupidity, says Justin Rosario

Trump Will Use Coronavirus To Expand His Authoritarianism. We Must Stop Him.

Elections are being postponed due to the Coronavirus, but we cannot allow Trump to exploit in the relentless expansion of his presidential power, says Bob Cesca