‘This is not Ebola. It’s not SARS. It’s not MERS. It’s not a death sentence. It’s not the same as the Ebola crisis…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Under most circumstances, a highly contagious flu strain would still pale in comparison with a virus that causes the liquefying of internal organs and bleeding from the eyeballs.
But in the case of presidential responses to potential epidemics, the comparison between former President Barack Obama’s 2014 Ebola response and President Donald Trump’s coronavirus response was inevitable.
As with recent presidential crises—notably the House Democrat-led impeachment—partisan Trump critics struggled to hold back their glee at the global catastrophe.
But left-leaning media outlets already had begun their victory lap as stock markets plunged into “corrective” mode following an unprecedented period of sustained economic growth.
The uncertainty was tied largely with concerns over the closure of Chinese markets and others around the globe that have been ravaged already by the outbreak. Regardless, Democratic strategists and their media allies sought to stoke the fires of mass panic.
Trump criticized leftist outlets like CNN for their hysteria in response to the arrival of cases in the U.S., many of them in blue states with open-border or sanctuary-city policies.
“They’re doing everything they can to instill fear in people, and I think it’s ridiculous,” Trump said Friday. “And some of the Democrats are doing it the way it should be done, but some of them are trying to gain political favor by saying a lot of untruths.”
While media predictably forecast catastrophe, those same outlets deflected from Obama’s personal stake in the crisis by instead heralding his “coalition building” and the assembly of a “rapid response” team.
While NPR stood in awe of his ” plans for a massive international intervention,” the AP dutifully blamed the Republican Congress for its reluctance to rubber-stamp a $6.2 billion spending proposal nearly three months into the outbreak.
““We can’t beat Ebola without more funding,” Obama said in December 2014. “It’s a good Christmas present to the American people and to the world.”
As of 2019, Ebola continued to plague regions such as West Africa, although the U.S. threat has since been contained.
Meanwhile, the AP ran with the headline “Trump tries to shift blame as virus outbreak rattles markets” and, in an entirely unrelated article about the president traveling to South Carolina, it randomly editorialized that “Trump has linked his presidency to the markets through tweets and speeches often taking credit for each new high in the markets. Now, Trump is trying to reassure Americans the economy is still strong…”
It went on to note that “The virus has infected 83,000 people globally and caused about 2,800 deaths,” while failing to point out that 90 percent have been in China and only 60 have been reported thus far in the U.S.
As some outlets reported, Trump was critical of Obama for failing to close flights from high-risk areas.
I am starting to think that there is something seriously wrong with President Obama’s mental health. Why won’t he stop the flights. Psycho!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2014
However, Business Insider not only took a backhanded swipe at Trump for neglecting to respond according to his own advice (courts have frequently challenged Trump’s repeated attempts to limit entry into the U.S.) but it also bludgeoned him for “beating the drum earlier that summer, too, with nationalism and isolationism sprinkled in.”
The site even claimed, contrary to evidence, that Ebola was a “much less deadly” outbreak.
But White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney emphasized during a speech at the CPAC gathering that despite the attempt to stoke panic, the risk was minimal compared with prior recent epidemics: “This is not Ebola. It’s not SARS. It’s not MERS. It’s not a death sentence. It’s not the same as the Ebola crisis.”