What Don Lemon’s Not Telling You About Trump’s Coronavirus ‘Gaslighting’

Don Lemon accused Donald Trump of gaslighting the public about his coronavirus stance, but it's no different than Obama's swine flu approach.
Posted in: Op-edPolitics
Published:
March 19, 2020 3:25 PM UTC
  • CNN’s Don Lemon accused President Trump this week of “gaslighting” the public about his stance on the coronavirus pandemic.
  • But what he’s not telling you is Donald Trump’s approach to talking about COVID-19 is no different from Barack Obama’s with swine flu.
  • Both presidents responded to the pandemic, but emphasized authorities have it under control and there is no cause for alarm.

CNN’s Don Lemon attacked President Donald Trump Tuesday with two clips that are supposed to show Trump gaslighting the public. But if you think critically about what Lemon is doing, it’s obvious that Don Lemon is the one gaslighting you.

Gaslighting is a reference to the 1944 film “Gaslight” about a husband manipulating his wife into thinking she’s losing her grip on reality. But that’s just one, least charitable interpretation of the president’s words, by a news anchor with a known bias against Trump and his supporters.

Don Lemon’s Case for ‘Gaslighting’

In the segment, Don Lemon played a clip from a Trump press briefing Tuesday:

The president who has been playing down the coronavirus from the beginning says this today: “I’ve always known this is a real, this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was a pandemic.”

Then Lemon went on the attack:

That is gaslighting pure and simple. The president of the United States is gaslighting you. And you deserve to know. Claiming today that he has known all along that the coronavirus is a pandemic. This is way back in January, and I want you to listen to the president’s own words in January.

The following clip from Donald Trump is supposed to be a smoking gun that Trump is lying to you, and trying to twist your memory of the past three months:

We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. And we have it under control. And it’s going to be just fine.

Calling that proof that Trump was gaslighting everyone Tuesday is blatant spin. First of all there was a lot of time between those earlier remarks and when coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the WHO on Mar. 11. If Trump felt it was a pandemic by the middle of February, then he felt it was a pandemic before it was a pandemic.

There’s also no inherent contradiction here. There can both be a pandemic, and the authorities can have it under control. And that’s the fine line presidents have to walk.

Trump’s Coronavirus Stance Like Obama’s for Swine Flu

When President Obama spoke about swine flu, he adopted the same stance as Donald Trump. He exuded calm and reassurance so as not to cause a panic. And the media allowed him to do this and followed his lead, rather than inciting alarm the way it has with coronavirus under Trump.

Back in 2009, Obama said this about swine flu:

We are closely monitoring the emerging cases of swine flu in the United States. This is obviously a cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert. But it’s not a cause for alarm.

The Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency as a precautionary tool to ensure we have the resources we need at our disposal to respond quickly and effectively.

That’s the responsible way for officials to handle pandemics. The media excoriating Donald Trump for doing the same is dishonest and destructive. They’re making it more difficult for the government to take a nuanced, careful approach when crises like coronavirus emerge. And they are doing it for outrage and ratings, as well as to push partisan propaganda.

This is terrible for our society. And the media is all too willing to make it harder for the government to do a difficult job as well as possible. Just for the outrage ratings, and to keep the irrational, corrupt game of partisanship going (which is also good for ratings). This is why Trump’s supporters despise talking heads like Don Lemon, and love it when Trump roasts the media.

In a Rasmussen Reports poll, independents rated the media’s politicized coronavirus coverage even worse than Republicans. That’s something for the Trump haters like Don Lemon to consider. They’re driving voters into his arms again like in 2016.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.

Sam Bourgi edited this article for CCN.com. If you see a breach of our Code of Ethics or Rights and Duties of the Editor or find a factual, spelling, or grammar error, please contact us.

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W. E. Messamore @thehuli

Markets Contributor for CCN living in Nashville, Tennessee. Bachelor of Business Administration from Belmont University in 2009 (majored in Entrepreneurship). Organized Senator Rand Paul's first and second online fundraisers in 2009. Roving editor for the Independent Voter Network since 2013. Email me | Link up with me on LinkedIn | My Website | Follow Me on Twitter (followed by: fmr Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), fmr NM Gov. Gary Johnson, and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY))