CNN anchor Anderson Cooper has accused President Donald Trump of "hijacking" the daily coronavirus task force briefings to "rewrite the history" of his early response to coronavirus and help him get reelected.
President Trump has been criticized for initially downplaying the virus, stating in February that the virus could “maybe go away. We’ll see what happens. Nobody really knows.” He went on to predict that the virus is “going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle – it will disappear.”
There are now over 400,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, which have led to at least 12,905 deaths.
During his Monday show, Cooper said Trump has "attacked and belittled" reporters who questioned Trump's actions. Cooper also defended the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi Grimm, who released a report on widespread medical supply and testing shortages at hospitals.
.@andersoncooper calls today's coronavirus briefing a “hijacking of the task force press conference by a President determined to rewrite the history of his early and reprehensibly irresponsible response.”— CNN (@CNN) April 7, 2020
“This is not normal and it matters because this is life or death,” he adds pic.twitter.com/gMg4YfYeDH
"If you tuned into it hoping you were going to hear from the country's top scientists, you were likely disappointed," Cooper began. "What you mostly heard was the president. And what you saw was a hijacking. A hijacking of the task force press conference by a president determined to rewrite the history of his early and reprehensibly irresponsible response to this virus."
"What the president showed us today is what the nation's top scientists have to deal with every day- a president who now uses these briefings as a reelection platform, an opportunity to lie, to deflect, to attack, to bully, and cover-up his own deadly dismissals of the virus for crucial weeks."
"I just have to point out that this is not normal and it matters because this is life or death," Cooper added.
He then went on to blast Trump for claiming a "victory" over coronavirus testing and telling the country that there's "light at the end of the tunnel." Cooper told viewers that no one knows "how long that tunnel may be" or "how dim the light currently is."
Unsurprisingly, Cooper's statement led to some mixed reactions online. "This is so honest, Anderson is being fair," one user wrote. "Are there any republicans that can admit that Trump did a horrible job with this? If a Democrat was acting like this I would not back them up. He could kill a person on TV and they would still back him."
While another added: "If he talks he’s hijacking, if he doesn’t it’s because he doesn’t care and doing nothing. If he touched and healed they would still complain!"
Cooper's monologue comes as a petition calling on news organizations to stop airing the briefings live has reached nearly 300,000 signatures.
The petition was created by Julie Rochman of Albuquerque, New Mexico, after one National Public Radio station in Seattle, KUOW, to stop airing the briefings live. In a statement, they said the decision was made because of "a pattern of false or misleading information provided that cannot be fact-checked in real-time."
The petition states: "Please stop covering the President’s daily live campaign rally (thinly disguised as a coronavirus “news conference”). There is no need to do so. News organizations can monitor the briefings in real-time and have your anchors and correspondents quickly share appropriately edited valuable, accurate parts, which will come from medical experts. That will leave the President’s insults, false braggadocio, and outright lies on the editing room floor, where they belong."
The petition continues: "President Trump is blatantly using the news organizations’ extensive, live coverage to freely campaign for a second term. It is wrong and dangerous to provide so much unfettered airtime to someone who is happily, shamelessly spreading terrible, damaging misinformation that is already costing fellow Americans their lives."
"Please tell national and local media outlets to monitor and then broadcast valid, accurate information from medical experts, rather than feelings and diatribes from the President that only serve his own electoral interests."
Rochman told Business Insider that she's a retired advocate for public health and safety in the property insurance industry and not an activist.
"I'm a retired 58-year-old woman who was pissed off. That's it," Rochman said.
She added: "My whole career has been involved in public safety, public health, and risk mitigation — trying to get people workable, actionable information to make themselves safer."
The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.