Containing the epidemic requires both reliable news coverage and truth from the president
It has taken until the last year of Donald Trump’s presidency for the existential risk this narcissistic authoritarian poses to be fully exposed. There have been other tests: the unconstitutional squeezing of immigration; the brief week or so when war with Iran felt inevitable; the imprisoning of children in cages along the United States’ southern border; not to mention the engagement with foreign governments in seeking personal gain. But it is the arrival of Covid-19, the infectious respiratory virus, that threatens a presidency reliant on a strategy of all narrative and no truth.
Trump has a core support base of people who are most vulnerable to Covid-19. Older people – particularly those who might resist taking the kind of interventionist measures being suggested – are very much at risk. Trump may have to halt his famous rallies in the middle of election season. More alien to him even than that, if containment of the virus is ever going to work he will have to build a good-faith alliance with the press to push out a unified and coherent message.