It would appear that in the eyes of those at CBS, President Trump can do no right.
On Wednesday, CBS Evening News bashed the president for seemingly doing very little to prevent infected people from coming into the country. They played clips of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top immunologist, in an effort to bolster these claims.
“If we are complacent and don’t do really aggressive containment and mitigation the number could go way up and be involved in many, many millions,” the doctor is seen telling Congress in the first clip. In the second, Fauci responds to a question regarding the White House plan to control the outbreak.
“How much worse we’ll get will depend on our ability to do two things: To contain the influx of people who are infected coming from the outside, and the ability to contain and mitigate within our own country,” he replied.
While any reasonable person would infer that the doctor was calling for increased travel restrictions or even an outright ban, CBS was attempting to highlight what many saw as an underwhelming response to the global COVID-19 outbreak.
Just 24 hours later, however, the news organization seemed to backtrack its earlier opinion and attack Trump for issuing a temporary travel ban designed to limit the number of potentially infected people entering the United States.
“President Trump’s ban on some travel from Europe announced in Wednesday night’s Oval Office address has led to confusion from U.S. carriers, a backlash from U.S. allies, and panic at European airports,” announced anchor Norah O’Donnell. Not long after, CBS senior national security analyst Fran Townsend was brought in and she did her best to cast doubt on the effectiveness of the ban. She argued that it was too little, too late.
“Travel bans are most effective before there is a widespread infection next rate inside the borders of the country,” she said. “And so this sort of travel restriction would have been most effective earlier on.” Townsend would admit, however, that the ban wasn’t “meaningless.”
When O’Donnell got the opportunity to speak to Fauci himself, she wasted no breath on the calls for travel restrictions. Instead, she asked him to comment on the “failing” system for testing.
“What I was referring to at the hearing was that the system of testing was originally designed for a doctor-patient type of interaction where you go into a doctor’s office or a clinic with symptoms and the reason you want a test is either you’ve been exposed or you have symptoms,” Dr. Fauci explained. “That goes to a public health laboratory that the CDC made the test for. It works very well for that, but what it doesn’t work for is if you want to do broad, blanket type of screening to answer the question that so many people are asking, how many people in this country are infected. That system now is going to be up and running I would imagine really quite soon, probably in a week.”
O’Donnell followed that up by asking whether it will be “too late” by the time the system is fully functional, but Fauci dismissed the very idea.
“No, I don’t think too late,” he responded. “But what we can do right now is the kind of, what we call both containment and mitigation. Those are the things you do to stop spread. So, therefore I don’t like to say it’s too late. It’s certainly not too late.”
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