ABC News complains Trump is shirking ‘comforter-in-chief’ role by not visiting coronavirus patients


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If we didn’t know better, it sure seems like the folks over at ABC News are trying to goad President Donald Trump into catching coronavirus.

In a story published last week, the network found a new and unique way to attack the president over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic: Complaining that he’s not playing his role of “comforter-in-chief” to visit Americans hospitalized by the virus.

Because all he cares about is the economy, you see, not lives.


The story begins this way:

President Donald Trump has largely focused on the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis, even more so as of late, frequently meeting with and calling business executives, rather than victims, their relatives or health care workers fighting COVID-19 on the front lines.

His expressions of empathy have come few and far between, punctuating his passionate promises of economic redemption and attacks on his political opponents.

Even as the U.S. death toll last week surpassed that of the Vietnam War, Trump has continued to eschew the president’s traditional role as “comforter in chief.”

That’s why it was so unusual this week when, after months of forgoing significant personal outreach to the tens of thousands of American families who have lost loved ones, he went beyond his typical scripted condolences.

When asked by nightly news anchor David Muir what he wanted to say to the families who have lost members to the virus, the president responded, “I love you. We’re with you. We’re working with you. We’re supplying vast amounts of money, like never before.”

But of course, that wasn’t sufficient for ABC News. The network went out and found presidential historian Ted Widmer, a professor at the City University of New York’s Macaulay Honors College, who claimed of Trump, “The word empathy is not in his vocabulary. You can’t be empathetic and always talk about yourself. The two things cancel each other out.”

Really? Like Barack Obama, who used “I” so often in his speeches that some news outlets began counting?

That aside, let’s recall what we’re dealing with here: A novel coronavirus that is known to attack and kill older Americans much more aggressively than other demographics. President Trump may be a ball of energy, but he’s still well within the age group that suffers most from coronavirus.

And let’s never forget that, while it may not make too many people at ABC News very happy, Trump is the president of the United States; no one at the White House is going to take any chances with his health (or the health of Vice President Mike Pence either, for that matter).

For that matter, no one was taking any chances with President Obama’s health either during the swine flu epidemic which hit during his first year in office. The Guardian reported in April 2009 that “the White House was quick to point out that the president was in no danger of contracting the virus” after a “security aide” traveling with Obama in Mexico fell ill from the disease.

So, exactly why would concern over President Trump’s health be any different? What is ABC News upset that he’s not putting himself needlessly in danger of catching coronavirus by visiting people who have it? Is the network so bereft of other things to criticize about his ‘coronavirus response’ that this is the best editors could come up with?

And why should Trump go see coronavirus patients when their own families are not able to visit?

Needless to say, there was no shortage of critics on social media who blasted ABC News for this pathetic coronavirus political ‘angle.’

And would it really matter if the president did go and see coronavirus patients?

To the president’s ‘empathy,’ he and Vice President Pence have made regular trips to Andrews Air Force Base, even in the middle of the night, to honor and receive the remains of U.S. military personnel killed overseas — a practice Trump began early in his administration.

We’re not sure what motivated ABC News to pursue this story angle, but it seems clear it’s little more than the latest in a series of gratuitous hit pieces against the president.


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Jon Dougherty


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