Background Briefing: March 18, 2020


Will Trump’s Followers Who Were Told It Is a “Hoax” Be the First to Get the Virus?

We begin with the first of what are likely to be a series of bailout and stimulus bills with the Senate today approving the House-passed coronavirus relief bill which now heads to Trump’s desk. Joining us to discuss how much help Main Street is getting compared to Wall Street is David Rothkopf, CEO of TRG Media and host of the “Deep State Radio” podcast who was a senior official in the Clinton White House and is the author of the forthcoming book, Traitor: A History of American Betrayal from Benedict Arnold to Donald Trump. We discuss his articles at The Daily Beast “Everything We Need in the Coronavirus Crisis is Everything That Trump is Not” and “Trump wants to Bail Out Airlines and Cruise Ships. How About Us?” With Trump today making the outrageous claim that he knew from the outset the coronavirus would be a pandemic but then for some reason bungled the government’s response, we assess whether the blind support Trump gets from his base is waning. As more Americans become infected, those who followed Trump’s advice that the whole virus thing is a “hoax” and therefore did not take the advice of medical professionals are the most likely to be infected, might they wake up on their sickbed and realize their leader is a dangerous fraud and a complete incompetent? And since the CEO’s of airlines have not invested their profits in their companies and their workforce but rather have used 96% of their company’s earnings to buy back stock to boost their own incomes, we will get an analysis of what should be the focus of this first of what will be many bailouts, and how they can be structured in the future to help the majority of Americans exposed to the virus who do not have savings or a social safety net.

An Economist on the Politics of the Bailouts

Then we speak with Dean Baker, the senior economist and co-founder of the Center for Economic Policy Research who writes the popular economics blog, “Beat the Press” where he has an article “When it Comes to Bailouts, Nancy Pelosi is in the Drivers Seat”. He joins us to discuss the politics of the bailouts as Mitch McConnell finds himself dealing with divisions within his caucus of 53 Republicans in particular the perennially irritating libertarian outlier Senator Rand Paul who is gumming up the works insisting on ending the war in Afghanistan before taking care of his fellow American shut in at home without jobs, food, affordable medical care and protection against the virus.

Trump Doubles Down on His Racist Description of the “Chinese Virus”

Then finally with Trump doubling down today insisting his continuing use of the description of COVID-!9 as “the Chinese virus” is not racist, making no distinction between the Chinese government and the Chinese people, we speak with Mae Ngai, Professor of History and Asian American Studies at Columbia University who studies immigration, citizenship and nationalism and is the author of The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America and The Chinese Question. She joins us to discuss the growing friction between the two countries over trade and now access by the press as China closes the door on The New York Times,The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal which Trump is inflaming by his racist insults that play into the PRC’s propaganda machine as Trump become the face of the “Ugly American” abroad.