CNN anchor Chris Cuomo ripped into President Donald Trump after he called himself a ‘cheerleader’ and denied having downplayed the seriousness of coronavirus for weeks as the outbreak took hold in the US.
On Tuesday night Cuomo opened his show Cuomo Prime Time, which he has been hosting from the basement of his home since he tested positive for COVID-19 last week, by calling for leaders to be realistic about the crisis.
He then played a clip from the daily White House briefing minutes earlier, in which Trump claimed that he understood the risks of coronavirus from the start but put on a show of optimism publicly so as to not cause a panic.
During the briefing a reporter quoted the president saying in late January that the number of COVID-19 cases would ‘soon be zero’.
Trump said in response: ‘The cases really didn’t build up for a while, but you have to understand, I’m a cheerleader for this country.’
‘I don’t want to create havoc and shock and everything else. I’m not going to go out and start screaming: “This could happen, this could happen.” But ultimately, when I was saying that, I’m also closing it down. I obviously was concerned about it.’
CNN then cut back to Cuomo’s basement as the host said exasperatedly: ‘That’s what leadership is! Anybody can tell people what they want to hear, and make it easy. And then you know what you get? Exactly where we are right now.
‘That was the most asinine statement of leadership I have ever heard.’
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo (left) ripped into President Donald Trump (right) after he called himself a ‘cheerleader’ and denied having downplayed the seriousness of coronavirus for weeks as the outbreak took hold in the US
Cuomo continued: ‘I can’t even dismiss it on the president having a 102 fever like I do.
‘That is clear thinking from him: “I’m a cheerleader, so I’m going to lie to you about the realities, that your parents, your loved ones and your kids face. I’m not going to prepare the way I should because it reinforces the bulls**t I’m telling you. And I hope you’re okay with it.”
‘We’ve got to do better than that. This president must do better than that.
‘The good news is, he can. The bad news is, he refuses to. And that, I have no answer for.
‘He said we’d be good by Easter. On Easter Sunday, you know what, I will be sick. And I will be sick for some time to come. Somebody telling me something else doesn’t make me feel any better. It makes me feel worse about them.
‘I demand truth for my situation. I demand truth for you as well. Again, too many of us have parents loved ones and kids in the balance.’
‘That was the most asinine statement of leadership I have ever heard,’ Cuomo said of Trump’s ‘cheerleader’ comment. ‘I can’t even dismiss it on the president having a 102 fever like I do’
Fellow CNN anchor Don Lemon also tore into Trump about the cheerleader comment.
‘Tonight, we are closing in on 400,000 US cases and in the face of that, the president says that he wants to be a ‘cheerleader’ for the country… He’s got one part of that right- it’s leader. Leader. Not cheerleader,’ Lemon said in his opening monologue.
‘Telling people what could happen and preparing for that to happen is what you are supposed to do.
‘Yes, Americans do need their president to give them hope, but we also need the facts about what we are facing. Facts could be- well no, they are the difference between life and death. Which means the weeks and months this administration spent not taking this seriously is a bitter pill to swallow on a day that over 1,700 Americans died.
‘No amount of cheerleading can ever bring those people back.’
Fellow CNN anchor Don Lemon also tore into Trump about the cheerleader comment
Trump’s comments came after CBS correspondent Ben Tracy asked about memos written by top economic adviser Peter Navarro in January and February, which included grim warnings about how a pandemic could cost trillions of dollars and millions of lives.
Those memos were circulated around the West Wing as Trump publicly downplayed the threat of the virus, insisting that it was ‘totally under control’ and would have a ‘very good ending’.
Trump maintained that he didn’t view the memos publicly and said that even if he had, he wouldn’t have done anything differently in his response to the outbreak.
When Tracy specifically pointed to Trump’s dismissive comments about coronavirus as the first cases were reported in the US, the president stood firm in his assertion that they were accurate.
‘You were saying things like: “I think it’s a problem that’s going to go away,”‘ Tracy said.
‘Which I’m right about,’ Trump interrupted. ‘It will go away.’
As of Tuesday evening, more than 398,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in the US and at least 12,000 people have died.
More than 398,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in the US and at least 12,876 people have died as of Tuesday evening