Trump Goes After Birx for Speaking the Truth on the Coronavirus Crisis

“Pathetic!”

Yuri Gripas/ZUMA

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

President Trump on Monday lashed out at Dr. Deborah Birx after the White House coronavirus response coordinator warned that the coronavirus is now “extraordinarily widespread” in the United States—an assessment that while backed by science, contradicts Trump’s ongoing efforts to falsely portray the crisis in more optimistic terms.

It marked the first time the president has publicly criticized Birx, who until now, had echoed the White House’s talking points on the pandemic, even when doing so drew heavy condemnation, as well as doubt over her independence as a public health official. Trump’s newfound frustration with Birx came after she told CNN Sunday that the US had entered a “new phase” of the pandemic, one different than the situation in March and April, while also suggesting that distance learning—not the in-person reopening of schools Trump has aggressively pushed for—may be more appropriate for communities struggling to contain the spread of the virus.

On Monday, without offering any evidence, Trump framed Birx’s remarks as a response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s blunt comments announcing that she didn’t have confidence in Birx. “I think the president has been spreading disinformation about the virus and she is his appointee,” Pelosi told ABC on Sunday, “so I don’t have confidence there, no.” 

“It is deeply irresponsible of Speaker Pelosi to repeatedly try to undermine & create public distrust in Dr. Birx,” Alyssa Farah, the White House’s director of strategic communications, tweeted. “It’s also just wrong. Period. Hard stop.”

That call to end criticism of Birx apparently did not reach Trump, who by accusing Birx of taking “the bait” and hitting the administration,” had unwittingly taken the baton from Pelosi. “Pathetic!”

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you'll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate