The outrage began Monday afternoon when Trump announced on Twitter that he would be heading back to the White House later in the day, urging everyone, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”
“Almost 210,000 Americans are dead,” CNN anchor Jake Tapper reacted. “I just want to say to anybody out there who’s watching who has either lost somebody to this virus or is grappling with it… I just want them to know that there are plenty of us out here who understand that it’s okay to be afraid of COVID and it’s okay that it’s dominating your life because it has dominated your life! And the idea that the president of the United States out there- because he feels fine and maybe that’s because of his steroid, I don’t know, that he’s saying this is so disrespectful to you and I just want to let you know that you’re not alone if you’re out there just shocked by this callous indifference.”
“The Situation Room” anchor Wolf Blitzer called Trump’s tweet “outrageous,” telling his viewers “Everyone should be afraid of COVID.”
CNN political analyst Gloria Borger similarly called the president’s remarks “disgraceful” and “absurd,” saying it’s “insulting” to those who lost loved ones due to the coronavirus and to “every American who wears a mask.”
Upon leaving Walter Reed, CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter knocked Trump’s exit strategy, telling Blitzer the president ‘knows” that “the nightly news broadcasts are on right now” showing his exit from the military hospital.
“It’s not a real show of strength but it’s a performative show of strength,” Stelter explained. “This is what strong men do in autocratic regimes. Of course, thankfully we’re in a democracy, but this is the kind of thing you see from strong men who want to appear to be leading as a ‘Dear Leader’ sort of approach.”
Stelter went on to accuse the Trump administration of a “coverup,” asking “Why won’t they tell us about his testing history?” and insisting “we’ve moved from this possibly being a coverup to actually being a coverup.”
Moments later, CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta offered a grim forecast as Marine One arrived at the White House with the president.
“This is not just the president returning to the White House. This may be Patient Zero,” Acosta said. “This is the virus coming back to the White House.”
He continued, “Having been here all day, it is eerily quiet and empty inside the corridors of the West Wing with Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, testing positive for the virus, two press assistants testing positive for the virus, they evacuated much of the West Wing earlier today.”
CNN isn’t the only news outlet to condemn President Trump’s swift departure from Walter Reed. Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin raised eyebrows when she called for the “defunding” of the military hospital after the president’s medical team briefed the press about his improving condition.
“Any MD who publicly endorses this insanity needs to lose his/her license. Period,” Rubin declared in one of several tweets, another writing, “Congress might want to defund Walter Reed. It is a public health hazard.”
She said in another tweet, “A 74 yr old [obese] man with covid – who might have lung damage – and a pattern of disregarding medical advice is returned to an environment in which he may infect others. What planet does Conley inhabit? Where is the rest of Walter Reed? The VP? They are remarkable cowards.”