The Banter Brief: The Mind Blowing Failure Of Trump's Coronavirus Leadership

It didn't have to be this way.

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Banter Brief! We’ve had a surge of people subscribing to the newsletter in the past few weeks, so we wanted to say a big thanks to all our readers for reading, sharing and subscribing. In these difficult times, it is important to get your news and opinion from trusted sources, and we strive to provide our readers with useful, fact checked, accurately sourced reporting and commentary. You can get 50% off a Banter Membership right now, so join our community and get access to all our premium articles and archive. You’ll also get early access to The Banter Podcast, our brand new podcast that goes out once a week:

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1. Most Important Story Of The Week

US Leads The World In Coronovirus Cases

"You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero."

That was Donald Trump one month ago informing Americans not to worry about a pandemic that had just brought China to its knees and was rapidly spreading in Europe. According to The Washington Post, U.S. intelligence agencies “were issuing ominous, classified warnings in January and February about the global danger of the coronavirus while President Trump and lawmakers played down the threat and failed to take action that might have slowed the spread of the pathogen." 

Now the United States officially has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases anywhere in the world. Trump’s lack of leadership has been worse than shocking — it has been criminal. He underplayed and dismissed the threat, has lied and made misleading statements about the virus almost daily, and refused to use the power of the federal government (using the Defense Procurement Act) to get much needed medical equipment to desperate states for fear of upsetting CEOs and upending the stock market. The enormity of Trump’s incompetence will almost certainly kill people as hospitals around the country are woefully unprepared for what is about to happen.

According to Trump, the US will be “open” for Easter — a date he picked no doubt to appeal to his evangelical base. The virus however, clearly has other ideas as it spreads through the States like wildfire. Medical professionals, governors, and Trump’s own advisors are openly defying the president’s statements on the virus, and there are now mass appeals for media outlets to stop broadcasting the president’s briefings.

The only upside to all of this is the knowledge that this virus is going to expose Donald Trump for the fraud he is. The US is at the very beginning of the Coronavirus crisis, so the reality of it has yet to fully set in (Trump’s approval rating is actually climbing this week). But as the death mounts, the scale of Trump’s mishandling of this epidemic will be made gruesomely clear.

Read more for Banter Members:

Why Is Trump Doing Nothing To Stop COVID-19?

A population wracked with fear is a population that is willing to overlook even egregious assaults on the Constitution, says Justin Rosario.

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2. Poll Analysis

Trump: The president appears to be benefiting from the perception that he is (at least now) taking the virus seriously. This from CNN:

47% approve and 48% disapprove rating of his handling of the presidency, according to CNN's Poll of Polls.

The Poll of Polls is an average of recent national phone polling conducted among adults or registered voters.

Trump's handling of the coronavirus outbreak averages higher approval, standing at 52%, while disapproval stands at 45%.

His average approval for handling the coronavirus outbreak is sharply improved from CNN's first measure of that rating earlier this month, when 41% said they approved and 48% disapproved.

Trump vs Biden: Some concerning news for Joe Biden in swing state projections (via FiveThirtyEight):

The latest episode of The Banter Podcast is now out! You can listen below and follow on Spotify here. In this week’s episode, Ben and Mike tackle the nation's pressing issues, like whether they'd want to get coronavirus if it meant they could cough on Trump, and why the hell Democrats are losing the messaging battle when the president has botched the response to the crisis.

3. Quote Of The Week

“You will play music from your windows and lawns. When you saw us singing opera from our balconies, you thought “ah, those Italians”. But we know you will sing uplifting songs to each other too. And when you blast I Will Survive from your windows, we’ll watch you and nod just like the people of Wuhan, who sung from their windows in February, nodded while watching us.”

- Italian novelist Francesca Melandri in a letter to the UK.

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4. What to Watch

Tiger King"

If you want to escape Coronavirus news and immerse yourself in one of the most bonkers, highly addictive, tawdry documentary series ever created, watch “Tiger King” right now. Netflix describes the series as “a jaw-dropping true tale of con artists, polygamy, rivalry and revenge.” If only it were that simple.

The series follows the diabolically manipulative entertainer and zoo owner Joe Exotic (originally named Joe Maldonado-Passage) in his quest to become the greatest zoo keeper of all time. Unfortunately for Joe, he has competition from other charismatic zoo keepers around the country, predatory business partners, and an arch nemesis animal rights activist dedicated to bringing him down.

The coterie of characters featured in the series are so insane no one could have ever created them. Joe Exotic is a deeply troubled, country music singing, gun toting, gay polygamist. Carol Baskin is a mild mannered animal right activist who may have murdered her ex millionaire husband. “Bhagavan” Doc Antle is the owner of the Myrtle Beach Safari and “spiritual guru” to the teenage girls who work for him, and millionaire Jeff Lowe is Joe’s ex-business partner, fellow polygamist, and full time sociopath. The characters are in constant conflict with one another, and the series follows them down a dark path that results in an unthinkable crime. It is television at its best, and you’ll want to watch the whole thing in one setting, no matter how sordid and insane it gets.

5. Good News

The stimulus package is coming. The bill isn’t perfect by any means — it contains too much for corporations, too little oversight, and almost certainly won’t be enough given the enormous impact COVID-19 has had on the economy. But the $1200 check for anyone earning under $75,000/year is desperately, desperately needed. Working families are being crushed by the pandemic as jobs are disappearing, businesses collapse, and investment dries up. You’ll get the check in the mail some point in the next three weeks, and while you won’t be able to go out and celebrate, you will rest easier having a small stash for food and supplies while we are all stuck inside waiting for this horror show to end.

See you next week, and stay inside!

(image via Getty images)

Read the latest for Banter Members:

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Why Is Trump Doing Nothing To Stop COVID-19?

The answer may lie in the upcoming election, says Justin Rosario

Conoravirus And The Pandemic Of Nincompoopery

Those of us who know better already get it, and those of us who don’t get it will probably end up on a ventilator, coughing up blood, says Bob Cesca

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