In May, after Donald Trump’s valet tested positive for the coronavirus, Trump started getting tested daily. When reporters asked about his results, Trump, who was healthy at the time, decided to have some fun and offered a teasing answer: “I tested very positively in another sense… I tested positively toward negative, right? So… No, I tested perfectly this morning — meaning I tested negative.”
Now, as a coughing, feverish Trump convalesces in a hospital bed with COVID-19, the joke is on him. If you watch Fox News, however, you would think that this whole development is nothing short of terrific. According to Dr. Qanta Ahmed, who was interviewed as a medical expert Friday morning on Fox & Friends, there is simply no cause for concern.
While admitting that she has never examined Trump nor reviewed his medical records, Dr. Ahmed insisted that she is “extremely confident” that Trump will fully recover. Trump “is robust,” she explained, and so the coronavirus “has a formidable foe in the President’s constitution.” Of course, there is nothing wrong with expressing hope when someone is struggling with an illness. But repeating blind optimism to viewers as if it’s an ironclad, informed medical prognosis is irresponsible.
Not only is Fox News pumping happy talk about Trump’s serious medical situation into the airwaves, but the network is also trying to get people to believe that this development somehow elevates Trump while exposing Joe Biden as a tired loser. In the same show, the hosts repeatedly wondered aloud whether Biden was aware of Trump’s positive test. Accusing Biden of being a chronic late riser, the hosts kept noting it’s “interesting” that he hadn’t yet tweeted about the news.
As the day rolled on and it became clear that Trump would be headed to Walter Reed, Fox News host Greg Gutfeld wasted no time putting Trump on a pedestal. Gutfeld praised Trump as a selfless “optimist” who “put himself on the line… to make sure that the positive attitude is maintained.” Gutfeld then portrayed Trump as a martyr, proclaiming that “he took the risk, he got the virus—but he was doing it for us.” Finally, in a gratuitous, veiled swipe at Biden, Gutfeld added that Trump was “on that battlefield with you” rather than “sit[ting] somewhere in a basement and tell[ing] you how you have to get back to work.”
The truth, of course, is that Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis did not turn him into some folk hero, and Biden, who has proven himself for decades to be a tireless fighter for the average American, is no slacker. The health of any sitting President of the United States is serious business that must be covered soberly and accurately by the press, especially given the Trump administration’s obnoxiously secretive nature. As Election Day approaches, we can expect Fox News to continue careening off the rails like a runaway train.