Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney criticized the establishment media on Friday for crashing the stock market and panicking the American people with their coverage of the coronavirus.
“The reason you’re seeing so much attention to it today, they think that this is what’s going to bring down the president,” he said.
Since the president appointed Vice President Mike Pence to lead the response to the coronavirus, Democrats and the establishment media criticized the administration for politicizing the response.
“The word this morning is, we’re controlling the message and that it’s a political issue, not a medical issue,” Mulvaney said. “That is completely false.”
He mocked a message from a reporter who asked him what the White House would do to calm the stock markets.
“Really, what I might do today to calm the market is to tell the people to turn their televisions off for 24 hours,” he said.
He added that some in the media and the left described Trump’s decision to ban travel from China a month ago as racist.
“We were accused by some on the left of being racist for doing that,” Mulvaney said. “True. I’m not making this up. That was in the press, that this was an anti-Asian policy that we were doing this.”
Mulvaney asserted the threat the virus posed was real but much less than other diseases, noting that the fatality rate for coronavirus was between one to two percent, unlike other more deadly diseases such as ebola or SARS.
“It’s not a death sentence, it’s not the ebola crisis,” he said.
He acknowledged that if the virus became widespread, Americans could expect school closures or public transportation limitations in the future.
“Are you going to see some schools shut down? Probably,” he said. “May you see impacts on public transportation? Sure.”
Mulvaney said that Congress and the media, not the administration, were asleep at the switch, pointing to the distraction with impeachment when the virus threat was emerging.
He said the administration held briefings with Congress about the coronavirus six weeks ago, but only five senators and about 10-15 members of the House showed up.
“What was still going on four or five weeks ago? Impeachment, and that’s all the press wanted to talk about,” he said. “While real news was happening … the press was covering their hoax of the day because they thought it would bring down the president.”