Limbaugh falsely claims criticisms of Trump's coronavirus preparedness are "a political hit job"

"This effort . . . to portray Trump as unprepared is as bogus as the Steele dossier," Limbaugh tells his listeners

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published April 14, 2020 8:17PM (EDT)

Rush Limbaugh (Getty/Jim Watson)
Rush Limbaugh (Getty/Jim Watson)

Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed Monday that criticisms that President Donald Trump was "unprepared" for the coronavirus pandemic were "a political hit job taking place right before our very eyes."

"This effort to prepare — to portray Trump as unprepared is as bogus as the Steele dossier," Limbaugh told his listeners Monday. "It's as bogus as the phone call to Ukraine's president. It's as bogus as anything involving Stormy Daniels — the Trump-Russia collusion bogus hoax, which is a silent coup."

The radio host went on to falsely claim that the economic shutdown was somehow undertaken to "damage President Trump" and at the same time push for a Green New Deal. After making those assertions, Limbaugh attacked a New York Times story revealing how Trump failed to adequately prepare for the pandemic because of "internal divisions, lack of planning and his faith in his own instincts led to a halting response." 

Chris Wallace cited the same Times report earlier this week, which Mediaite speculated had prompted Trump to attack the Fox News host for being "even worse than Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd of Meet the Press (please!), or the people over at Deface the Nation."

Limbaugh attempted The Times by falsely claiming that the publication has "no desire for you to understand that this is a political objective."

He concluded, "Why does only President Trump face any accountability? And why is it that President Trump's the only guy said to be unprepared here? Because this is a political hit job taking place right before our very eyes."

Despite Limbaugh's numerous false claims, Trump did downplay the pandemic during the early months of the outbreak. He insisted in January that it was "totally under control." That same month, the president announced travel restrictions to China after three major airlines halted flights. 

Trump later cancelled a briefing about the pandemic in February as he again claimed that things were "very much under control." He predicted that the number of Americans to test positive for COVID-19 would be "down to close to zero" and insisted that one day "like a miracle, it will disappear."

The president told the American people in March to "stay calm," because the pandemic "will go away." He first acknowledged the gravity of the situation during a White House press briefing on March 16. Asked about his description of the situation as "under control," Trump responded that "if you're talking about the virus, no, that's not under control for any place in the world . . . I was talking about what we're doing is under control, but I'm not talking about the virus."

"[Trump] should have been warning us it was coming," Dr. William Haseltine, a biologist renowned for his work in confronting the HIV/AIDS epidemic, for fighting anthrax and for advancing our knowledge of the human genome, told Salon last month. "He should have been preparing by stockpiling all the necessary equipment. But even today we're not doing what we should do. Let me put it that way. What we should be doing is contact tracing [identifying people who may have come in contact with infected patients] and having mandatory quarantines for everybody who's been exposed. And quarantining not at home, but in hotel rooms, single occupancy hotel rooms."

The president awarded Limbaugh a Presidential Medal of Freedom in February, describing him as "the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet." Trump announced that he was bestowing the medal upon the radio host "in recognition of all that you have done for our nation, the millions of people a day that you speak to and you inspire and all of the incredible work that you have done for charity."

Watch the full video at Media Matters for America:

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Aggregate Chris Wallace Coronavirus Covid-19 Donald Trump Rush Limbaugh William Haseltine