Inside Trump’s Failed Coronavirus Speech

Trump corona

Great reporting here from Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey.  A taste:

In the most scripted of presidential settings, a prime-time televised address to the nation, President Trump decided to ad-lib — and his errors triggered a market meltdown, panicked travelers overseas and crystallized for his critics just how dangerously he has fumbled his management of the coronavirus.

Even Trump — a man practically allergic to admitting mistakes — knew he’d screwed up by declaring Wednesday night that his ban on travel from Europe would include cargo and trade, and acknowledged as much to aides in the Oval Office as soon as he’d finished speaking, according to one senior administration official and a second person, both with knowledge of the episode.

Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser who has seized control over some aspects of the government’s coronavirus response, reassured Trump that aides would correct his misstatement, four administration officials said, and they scrambled to do just that. The president also told staffers to make sure other countries did not believe trade would be affected, and even sent a cleanup tweet of his own: “The restriction stops people not goods,” he wrote.

Other administration officials rushed to alert the public that U.S. citizens would be exempt from the travel ban, after scores of Americans, upon digesting Trump’s speech, phoned government offices and raced to airports in Europe out of concern that they would not be able to fly home.

Trump’s 10-minute Oval Office address Wednesday night reflected not only his handling of the coronavirus crisis but, in some ways, much of his presidency. It was riddled with errors, nationalist and xenophobic in tone, limited in its empathy, and boastful of both his own decisions and the supremacy of the nation he leads.

Futures for the Dow Jones industrial average fell in real time with virtually each word Trump uttered, signaling a lack of confidence among investors that he had control of the crisis and previewing another bloodbath once the markets opened Thursday morning.

Read the rest here.