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Opinion | The president lied. Thousands of people died

Above all else, we should know one thing: Lies won’t fix anything.

President Donald Trump speaking in 2017 just outside Harrisburg. (Staff Sgt. Tony Harp/U.S. Air National Guard)

The president of the United States lied to you. Knowingly. With the intent to deceive. With the knowledge that the lie would place your life and the lives of your loved ones in peril. He lied. 

And not some little white lie, either. He didn’t just deny knowing about the break-in, or tell you that he didn’t have sex with that woman. Things that really don’t matter to you. 

No, Donald Trump told a lie so big, so horrifying that it is, quite honestly, hard to fathom. Hard to adequately place in the proper context. Hard to assign the proper weight. 

Because Trump’s lie cost tens of thousands of Americans their lives. 

That is not hyperbole. 

When the president of the United States speaks on a matter as important as a pandemic, and the president knowingly and repeatedly diminishes the risks of that pandemic, the American public listens. Especially those who support him. 

That’s millions of people. 

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And now we know that as early as Feb. 7, Trump was not only aware of the dangers of COVID-19, he was familiar with specific issues that this virus posed. He was telling legendary reporter Bob Woodward, on tape, that it was “more deadly” than the flu, that it spread by air, that it was “very tricky.” 

In the meantime, he was telling all of us that it was no biggie. He repeatedly, in the early days of this virus, with cases and deaths at relatively small numbers, equated it to the flu and pointed out that the flu was MORE deadly. Hell, he held six — SIX! — indoor rallies with no social distancing protocols after his comments to Woodward. 

In an absurd trip to the CDC over a month after his recorded conversation with Woodward, Trump pointed out that only 11 people had died from COVID and that 36,000 people died a few years earlier from the flu. You know what such a statement says to people. 

All the while knowing full well that what he was saying was complete and utter BS. And that what he was saying — and his repeated provocation of his supporters — would place tremendous pressure on governors all over the country, and especially in red and purple states, to resist life-saving shutdown actions. 

Alabama was one of those. Gov. Kay Ivey and her staff resisted strict shutdown measures for weeks, even as cases grew and hospitals filled. Sources familiar with that process have said repeatedly that the governor’s office received nearly constant pressure from conservatives — that group included elected lawmakers, top donors and voters — who were convinced by Trump that the virus wasn’t that bad.  

And, boy, was he ever pushing that nonsense. A few days before Ivey implemented a statewide shutdown in late March, Trump had started telling everyone that we would have the virus under control by Easter, anaThe president of the United States lied to you. Knowingly. With the intent to deceive. With the knowledge that the lie would place your life and the lives of your loved ones in peril. He lied.

And not some little white lie, either. He didn’t just deny knowing about the break-in, or tell you that he didn’t have sex with that woman. Things that really don’t matter to you.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

No, Donald Trump told a lie so big, so horrifying that it is, quite honestly, hard to fathom. Hard to adequately place in the proper context. Hard to assign the proper weight.

Because Trump’s lie cost tens of thousands of Americans their lives.

That is not hyperbole.

When the president of the United States speaks on a matter as important as a pandemic, and the president knowingly and repeatedly diminishes the risks of that pandemic, the American public listens. Especially those who support him.

That’s millions of people.

And now we know that as early as Feb. 7, Trump was not only aware of the dangers of COVID-19, he was familiar with specific issues that this virus posed. He was telling legendary reporter Bob Woodward, on tape, that it was “more deadly” than the flu, that it spread by air, that it was “very tricky.”

In the meantime, he was telling all of us that it was no biggie. He repeatedly, in the early days of this virus, with cases and deaths at relatively small numbers, equated it to the flu and pointed out that the flu was MORE deadly. Hell, he held six — SIX! — indoor rallies with no social distancing protocols after his comments to Woodward.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

In an absurd trip to the CDC over a month after his recorded conversation with Woodward, Trump pointed out that only 11 people had died from COVID and that 36,000 people died a few years earlier from the flu. You know what such a statement says to people.

All the while knowing full well that what he was saying was complete and utter BS. And that what he was saying — and his repeated provocation of his supporters — would place tremendous pressure on governors all over the country, and especially in red and purple states, to resist life-saving shutdown actions.

Alabama was one of those. Gov. Kay Ivey and her staff resisted strict shutdown measures for weeks, even as cases grew and hospitals filled. Sources familiar with that process have said repeatedly that the governor’s office received nearly constant pressure from conservatives — that group included elected lawmakers, top donors and voters — who were convinced by Trump that the virus wasn’t that bad.

And, boy, was he ever pushing that nonsense. A few days before Ivey implemented a statewide shutdown in late March, Trump had started telling everyone that we would have the virus under control by Easter, and that governors should start pushing people back to work by that time.

And all the while, the bodies were piling up.

We’re going to hit 200,000 dead Americans in a few days, probably before this month is up. More than 2,300 of those are from Alabama. And thousands more have been hospitalized, placed in ICU units for days on end, and many of those are still suffering the effects of the virus.

Those people matter. They were grandparents and parents. They were husbands and wives and sisters and brothers. They made a difference in the world, and they made a difference to the people who loved them.

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This president, in the interest of saving the stock market, tossed them aside like garbage.

Even as the deaths started to mount, he never backed away from his message, he never stopped downplaying the seriousness of it. Because he didn’t want to create a panic.

Because if there’s one thing that Trump is known for — if it’s not telling people that caravans of immigrants are coming to murder their families and steal their jobs or that Black people are coming to kill whitey in the suburbs or that a plane of Antifa thugs was headed to the nearest city — it’s definitely that he doesn’t like to cause a panic.

The fact is Trump has failed miserably at managing the COVID-19 crisis — there is no arguing that point. And at the core of it all is this horrific lie that encouraged a pandemic to spin out of control in the wealthiest, most advanced country in the world. Currently, for all of his blabbering about “deaths are way down,” the U.S. ranks 10th worst in coronavirus deaths per capita, and we’re climbing rapidly. We’ll be top 5 very soon. We lead the world in active cases.

It’s one more failure in a long line of them that have left us facing a pandemic, a depression and a social justice uprising at the same time. Navigating the country out of this quagmire won’t be easy, and it’ll take an honest, decent human to do it.

But above all else, we should know one thing: Lies won’t fix anything.

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Josh Moon
Written By

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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