The only thing we have to fear is fear itself, eh? President Trump’s return to the White House certainly offers a glimpse of how the press covers every angle. Witness the Times, where the top story is that “Trump Downplays Danger of Covid-19 as He Returns to White House.” It reports that “the president indicated that his own infection had failed to change his dismissive approach to handling the pandemic.”
Experts, the story says, are calling this dangerous. The off-lede is, “Trump’s Comments Undermine Public Health Messages.” Under it is another story, headlined “White House Is Not Tracing Contacts for ‘Super-Spreader’ Rose Garden Event.” The lede photograph shows Trump, alone at the top of a White House stairwell, removing his mask “despite coronavirus infection” (and despite the fact that no one is around).
Under that are displayed four stories. The first is about how the president has “undermined” an “opportunity” that his campaign had seen. The second is headlined: “When the Patient Is Your Commander in Chief, the Answer Is Usually ‘Yes, Sir’” It seems to suggest the president’s physician, an officer in the Navy, lacks for spine, though it quotes him as saying that Mr. Trump “has never once pushed us to do anything,”
Next comes a story about how Vice President Biden is so clairvoyant that he was “not surprised” that Mr. Trump took sick. The adjacent story reports that as the virus “invades the West Wing,” White House reporters “face heightened risks.” Then comes a story about how the White House is blocking “new coronavirus guidelines” with which the Food and Drug Administration had been seeking to delay emergency approval of a vaccine.
“President Trump remains at a precarious point,” is the adjacent scoop on the immune system. Next is a story about how the C.D.C. is now acknowledging that the virus “may be adrift in indoor air.” This is followed by a story about a study that reckons about almost a third of covid patients “had altered mental state.” Then an explainer about how the Times’s competitor, Fox News, is “still” in a “Coronavirus bubble.”
That’s marked as an opinion piece. The opinion it expresses is that “humans will do figure eights to make facts suit their fictions.” Paul Krugman’s column says “Bidencare” shouldn’t be dismissed because it isn’t “Medicare for All.” Then again, too, you have Michelle Goldberg’s report that the White House has become “infected with propaganda.” Then a piece about how Mr. Trump’s record is worse than President Obama’s.
There is a column from Bret Stephens urging readers to “wish a president well who doesn’t wish you well.” That’s adjacent to his conversation with Gail Collins. She says it’s “important” for “us all” to wish the President “good health” but “impossible” to “ignore for one minute” him having made “fun” of persons “who wear masks.” To which Mr. Stephens declares: “I don’t want to get all karmic about this.”
Sam Sifton offers a most delicious looking recipe in respect of corn polenta with baked eggs. Here’s the first paragraph: “The West is still on fire, and coronavirus continues to stalk the nation, particularly the Upper Midwest. Political tension vibrates in advance of the coming election. Everywhere the effects of systemic racism have been laid bare. Social isolation, meanwhile, has led to increases in overdoses, to declines in mental health, to loneliness so intense as to be personified: a new roommate, silent and angry. So many are out of work.”
Forgive us, but by then, alas, we’d lost our appetite.
Drawing by Elliott Banfield, courtesy of the artist.