Several public health experts who have spent this year watching as President Donald Trump has ignored, refuted, and openly mocked their guidance on the coronavirus pandemic are among those interviewed in a new documentary titled “Totally Under Control”—coming forward to give an insider’s account of how the Trump administration’s severe mismanagement of the crisis led to more than 216,000 deaths in the United States so far.
“Should open-minded viewers decide to watch ‘Totally Under Control,’ they’re likely to feel snapped awake, as if from a long, horrifying national trance.”
—Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
Directed by Alex Gibney—whose previous documentary subjects include the energy company Enron, the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, and the church of Scientology—the trailer for the film begins with reports of the first confirmed Covid-19 case in the U.S. on January 20 and concludes with the president making the claim that the documentary is named after, telling a reporter that the pandemic is “totally under control.”
The experts featured in the trailer and film make clear that while the U.S. had at its disposal every resource it needed to save hundreds of thousands of lives, the federal government refused to prepare healthcare workers and the general public for the crisis, choosing instead to downplay the pandemic.
“We, the scientists, knew what to do for the pandemic response,” says Dr. Rick Bright, a vaccine expert who was ousted from his role at the Health and Human Services Department after objecting to Trump’s Covid-19 response. “The plan was in front of us but leadership would not do it. It is time to lay our careers on the line and push back.”
The film was made in secret, and also includes interviews with former CDC director Tom Frieden, Dr. Taison Bell of University of Virginia, and Michael Bowen, an executive at medical supply company Prestige Ameritech whose offer to produce N95 masks was dismissed by federal officials in January.
“Political leaders caused avoidable death and destruction,” Frieden, who served under the Obama administration, says in the trailer.
In the two-hour film, Gibney focuses significantly on a “missing six weeks” in February and March when the federal government failed to implement a widespread testing strategy and the CDC went ahead with the development of a faulty test kit. The administration “squandered the critical window for containing the virus” during that time, wrote Adrian Horton at The Guardian.
Around the same time, Trump spoke with veteran journalist Bob Woodward, who later released audio recordings of the president stating clearly that he understood the virus to be highly deadly and virulent to people of all ages—even as he was publicly saying Covid-19 would likely “disappear” on its own in a matter of weeks or months.
“They knew all this, and yet they refused to act,” Gibney told The Guardian.
Reviewers of the film at The Guardian and the Washington Post wrote that “Totally Under Control” will likely be most widely viewed and appreciated by people who are already familiar with and critical of the president’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
But “should open-minded viewers decide to watch ‘Totally Under Control,'” wrote Ann Hornaday at the Post, “they’re likely to feel snapped awake, as if from a long, horrifying national trance. Let’s hope they keep awake, and stay angry.”
“Totally Under Control” is available to rent on streaming platforms including YouTube and iTunes, and will be available on Hulu on October 20.
Obama says some Black men are persuaded by Trump’s ‘macho’ bravado bragging about women and money
In part two of the SnapChat interview with President Barack Obama, Peter Hamby asked how President Donald Trump was able to persuade so many Black men to support him over President-elect Joe Biden.
When Obama was elected he got about 95 percent of the Black vote, where Biden got about 80 percent.
"Well, look, I think men, generally, are more susceptible to public figures who act tough, sort of the stereotypical macho style," Obama said, while videos of Trump showing off his flabby muscles appeared. "I don't think Black men are immune to that any more than White or Hispanic men are. A lot of the values of pop culture are extolling wealth, power, frankly, greed, not thinking about other people because you're so ruthless you're just looking out for yourself."
‘I’m utterly embarrassed’: Michigan Republican admits Rudy Giuliani ‘waded into the realm of insanity’
Michigan state Rep. Aaron Miller, a Republican, this week accused Rudy Giuliani of entering the "realm of insanity" with his testimony to lawmakers in Michigan.
Miller made the remarks following Giuliani's wild testimony to the Michigan House Oversight Committee.
"I’m happy to thoughtfully listen to evidence and claims and that was what today was supposed to be about, but Mr. Giuliani’s final statement waded into the realm of insanity," Miller said, according to The Detroit News. "He made wild and broad partisan insults for several minutes that had nothing to do with the election, and it was frankly unacceptable, shameful, and pathetic and distracts from any evidence that we might hear."
Trump refuses to say whether he still has confidence in AG Bill Barr
President Donald Trump on Thursday refused to say whether he still had confidence in embattled Attorney General Bill Barr.
According to Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason, the president was asked whether Barr still had his confidence, and Trump replied that reporters should ask him that question again in a few weeks.
Trump is reportedly furious at Barr for two reasons.
First, Barr told the Associated Press this week that so far the Department of Justice has found no evidence of systemic voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 election.