It’s Rank, Unadulterated Propaganda Time

It’s Rank, Unadulterated Propaganda Time May 20, 2020

What even is this? According to the AP:

Republican political operatives are recruiting “extremely pro-Trump” doctors to go on television to prescribe reviving the U.S. economy as quickly as possible, without waiting to meet safety benchmarks proposed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

What. What what what.

Look, it is absolutely the case that there is some disagreement among medical professionals and scientific experts over the best step forward. But to deliberately sort for “extremely pro-Trump” doctors?! This is an implicit acknowledgment that you are deliberately politicizing science!

I just can’t with this apparent assumption on the part of conservative activists that doctors and scientists choose their positions on medicine and science based on their politics!

The plan was discussed in a May 11 conference call with a senior staffer for the Trump reelection campaign organized by CNP Action, an affiliate of the GOP-aligned Council for National Policy. A leaked recording of the hourlong call was provided to The Associated Press by the Center for Media and Democracy, a progressive watchdog group.

Oh gods.

A resurgent economy is seen as critical to boosting President Donald Trump’s reelection hopes and has become a growing focus of the White House coronavirus task force led by Vice President Mike Pence.

Am I literally the only person who feels that preventing a deadly second wave of COVID-19 might be just as critical to boosting Trump’s reelection hopes—if not more so?

If Trump had gotten the response to COVID-19 right, saving lives and dampening the effect on the economy at the same time, I genuinely would have thought better of him than I did before. Would I have voted for him? Of course not! I have issues with things like putting children in cages. But my opinion of his administration’s basic competence—and their ability to handle disasters—would have improved.

But that is not what has happened. There has been more focus on getting people to go out and resume life as normal than there has been on making sure it is safe for people to go out and resume life as normal. And that is a very, very serious problem.

Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign communications director, confirmed to AP that an effort to recruit doctors to publicly support the president is underway, but declined to say when the initiative would be rolled out.

This is literally what propaganda is.

“Anybody who joins one of our coalitions is vetted,” Murtaugh said Monday. “And so quite obviously, all of our coalitions espouse policies and say things that are, of course, exactly simpatico with what the president believes. … The president has been outspoken about the fact that he wants to get the country back open as soon as possible.”

They are literally admitting they are doing propaganda.

They aren’t letting experts speak unless they say what the president—who by the way is not a scientist or a doctor—wants them to say. This is not how any of this works. Or should work, that is.

Murtaugh said the campaign is not concerned about contradicting government experts.

“Our job at the campaign is to reflect President Trump’s point of view,” Murtaugh said. “We are his campaign. There is no difference between us and him.”

This is so dangerous, I can’t even say how dangerous it is.

They think they can gaslight a virus. They really, really do. You would think a president’s campaign would be concerned with things like touting his accomplishments, not with creating a curated list of doctors and scientists to say it is safe for the country to go back to business as usual in the middle of a pandemic because the president thinks a booming economy is the key to his reelection.

You cannot wish away a virus.

On the May 11 call, Nancy Schulze, a GOP activist who is married to former Rep. Dick Schulze, R-Pa., said she had given the campaign a list of 27 doctors prepared to defend Trump’s reopening push.

“There is a coalition of doctors who are extremely pro-Trump that have been preparing and coming together for the war ahead in the campaign on health care,” Schulze said on the call. “And we have doctors that are … in the trenches, that are saying ‘It’s time to reopen.’”

The idea quickly gained support from Mercedes Schlapp, a Trump campaign senior adviser who previously served two years as the president’s director of strategic communications.

“Those are the types of guys that we should want to get out on TV and radio to help push out the message,” Schlapp said on the call.

“They’ve already been vetted. But they need to be put on the screens,” Schulze replied.

Okay, you know what? I’ll play. Let’s imagine that it is safe to go out, and the only problem is that much of the public thinks it isn’t. In that case, the very opposite of what you would want to do is put forward a list of super Trump-supporting doctors saying it’s safe to reopen, because that politicizes the science and no one not already in their base is going to listen to them because it will look like it’s nothing but a propaganda front. Which it in fact is. If you actually wanted to convince the public that it’s safe to go out again and resume normal life, you should line up doctors across the political spectrum saying that.

The absolute incompetence of these “strategic communications” directors is mind boggling. Add to that that you can’t convince a virus with propaganda. Seriously, what absolute hellscape are we living in?

Ah, but we’re not done!

Schlapp’s husband agreed the president is getting criticized for not appearing to follow the advice of public health experts. Matt Schlapp is chairman of the American Conservative Union, which hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference attended by conservative luminaries.

“The president’s going to get tagged by the fake news media as being irresponsible and not listening to doctors,” Matt Schlapp said on the call. “And so we have to gird his loins with a lot of other people. So I think what Nancy’s talking about … this is the critical juncture that we highlight them.”

You don’t … what. No. You don’t gird … someone else’s loins … with people. I have a really, really bad mental image right now, so thank you for that.

Also, I can’t believe I have to say this again, but this is literally propaganda.

Matt Schlapp told AP on Monday that he stood behind what he said on the leaked call.

“There is a big dynamic in the national media that will not give President Trump any credit,” he said. “It’s important to get the message out there that most people recover from corona. Most people are not in mortal danger with corona and that we can safely open up the economy.”

What? Lands. Everyone knows that most people recover from COVID-19. Estimates of the infection fatality rate range from 0.5% to 1.5%. It’s just that most people—and maybe Schlapp doesn’t quite understand this—most people don’t want their grandma to catch COVID-19 die. Or someone else’s grandma. Or their neighbor who is a cancer survivor. Or their friend with high blood pressure.

People aren’t in lockdown because they’re selfish assholes only worried about themselves, they’re in lockdown because their empathetic individuals who care about other people and can see that a small percentage of a very large number (given that no one has natural immunity to this) is still a big number.

Man, they’ve gone all in on rejecting that whole “compassionate” conservatism messaging of yesteryear, haven’t they? They’ve gone full sacrifice your grandma and the nice older neighbor lady who gives the local kids cookies for the good of the economy.

Also, if you’re upset because you feel that the national media isn’t giving Trump the credit he’s due for how he’s handled this, you should be talking about all the things Trump has done well to handle this.

Do you know what might actually rebuild people’s confidence and bring them out to shops and restaurants again? If Trump’s campaign filled the airwaves with coverage of how he’s worked with doctors to create a system of testing and tracing and quarantining, combined with new safety measures put in place in businesses, that public health experts say will keep the level of infection low and make easing lockdowns safe, people might actually feel safe coming out again—and it would make Trump look really good too! The problem is that he hasn’t done any of this.

The problem is that Trump wants all of the credit without actually doing any of the work. He’s relying on his campaign gaslighting America and he’s lining up doctors ready to parrot what he tells them to say to act as hiss propaganda figures. He’s eroding public trust in not only him but also doctors as he does so—after all, many people aren’t going to feel safe going out at all if they think doctors saying it’s safe are spouting propaganda and can’t be trusted.

This is the kind of thing we criticize China for.

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