Fox News has been disingenuously painting the recent far-right protests against social distancing and coronavirus shutdowns as organic, grass roots activity from concerned citizens who are fed up with the toll that shutdowns are taking on the U.S. economy. But at CNN and MSNBC, the coverage has been much more analytical and raised public health concerns. And when New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman appeared on CNN’s “New Day” on Monday morning, April 20, she stressed to hosts Alisyn Camerota and John Berman that the protests are a way for Trump to gin up his base — and encourage protestors to violate the orders of governors.
Haberman noted, however, that there is a disconnect between what Trump might say during a news conference and the message that protesters are getting.
“This is a president who was very successful in 2016 at taking both sides or many sides of the same issue and never clarifying what his position was,” Haberman explained. “It allowed different groups to hear what they wanted to hear in his words. In this case, it’s him tweeting ‘liberate’ — and then, when he gets to the podium, he has a, you know, more modified message of it. He says, ‘Well, I support everybody.’”
Haberman added that Trump is undermining the efforts of governors to protect the health of people in their states. The Times reporter asserted, “What he is doing is encouraging people to violate statewide orders. These are not by-choice issues from these governors; these are mandatory. And so, you have a president who is doing something that some of his advisers acknowledge is probably not smart public health policy, but they think is probably effective politics for him because it helps him with a certain group of supporters and downplays his own responsibility.”
Haberman went on to warn that there could be health risks when social distancing is not practiced during the protests.
“Look, it’s very risky,” Haberman told Camerota and Berman. “One adviser I spoke to made the point that if someone gets hurt in one of those protests — and we should be clear: these protests have been pretty small and scattershot and organized as opposed to authentic, so far. We’ll see how durable they are. But if they remain — if someone gets hurt, if someone gets sick at one of the protests, where a lot of people are not wearing masks — that raises the potential stakes for the president. And some of his folks are aware of that.”
Watch the video below: