NBC Cheers Task Force Quarantines as a Rebuke of Trump and Reopening

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Over the weekend, three of the nation’s top health officials and members of the Coronavirus Task Force, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, began their two weeks of at-home quarantine after they came in contact with someone with the virus. NBC’s Sunday Today, used the opportunity to take a morbid victory lap and cheer it as a rebuke of President Trump and calls to reopen. Political director Chuck Todd even joked that “it felt like a weird plot twist in a horror movie.”

At the top of the broadcast, White House correspondent Kelly O’Donnell noted the inconvenience the new development had on Trump’s plans. “Just as the White House is trying to send a message of going back to work with the President and Vice President keeping their travel schedules, three of the most prominent medical voices in this federal response are doing the opposite, staying home, adhering to guidelines they hope other Americans will follow,” she seemed to quip.

The three officials in quarantine were Dr. Anthony Fauci, CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield, and FDA director Stephen Hahn. According to her reporting, Hahn and Redfield “will remain home for two weeks” while Fauci “plans a ‘modified’ quarantine, mask-wearing with limited outside contact.”

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On top of that, O’Donnell suggested the White House wasn’t doing enough to protect the people who worked there (click “expand”):

O’DONNELL: — Secret Service agents near President Trump covered their faces, but the President and military brass, who are all tested, did not. Mixed signals that can cause uncertainty with the virus inside the West Wing. The Washington Post reports, aides deemed essential have been encouraged by supervisors to come into the office, not taking 14 days to self-isolate.

A White House statement notes, “every precaution is taken,” listing “social distancing, temperature checks,” “regular deep cleaning” and daily testing. But it does not mention self-quarantine.

 

 

Immediately following her report, host Willie Geist brought out Todd and openly mocked how “This kind of flies in the face the signals the President has been giving all week, which is that we need to ‘transition to greatness,’ as he tweeted, turning the page in the country to looking to open the economy.”

Thinking he was being witty, Todd dropped his “horror movie” comparison. “You know, Willie, this week you watch this President and it felt like a weird plot twist in a horror movie. Right? He wants to focus on opening the economy and it’s almost like the virus had its own brain and it said, ‘Oh, no, you don’t, Mr. President, I’m coming inside your house,’” he chided.

Todd proceeded to boast that the quarantines “put the spotlight on the President’s sort of inattention to the issue of, what do you do to help make people feel comfortable opening up the economy?”

Adding: “You know, this whole thing, he’s just been saying, ‘let’s go, come on, governors, open it up,’ without ever acknowledging that it’s going to take a dramatic increase in testing and tracing. And then, of course, we see the result in his own West Wing staff. So, here we are, I think it puts a huge spotlight on this issue of a lack of testing.”

Completely disregarding the plight of people struggling to feed their families, Geist concluded by pointing to polls and declaring the majority didn’t want to reopen.

The transcript is below, click “expand” to read:

NBC’s Sunday Today
May 10, 2020
8:02:45 a.m. Eastern

WILLIE GEIST: But let’s begin this morning with the overnight news from the White House that Dr. Anthony Fauci is one of three top doctors now in self-quarantine. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell is at the White House with more. Kelly, good morning.

KELLY O’DONNELL: Good morning, Willie. Just as the White House is trying to send a message of going back to work with the President and Vice President keeping their travel schedules, three of the most prominent medical voices in this federal response are doing the opposite, staying home, adhering to guidelines they hope other Americans will follow.

[Cuts to video]

Three of the nation’s top doctors following their own medical advice, choosing self-quarantine as Dr. Anthony Fauci once prescribed.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: The idea about self-isolating for two weeks will be very important.

O’DONNELL: Fauci plans a “modified” quarantine, mask-wearing with limited outside contact while CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield and FDA director Stephen Hahn will remain home for two weeks.

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD: We have a powerful tool, a powerful weapon that is social distancing.

O’DONNELL: Each taking these steps as a precaution. After they were exposed to a person with coronavirus. New fallout from the second positive case this week inside the White House. Pence press secretary Katie Miller, who works with the task force.

Late Saturday, a Senate committee expecting Redfield and Hahn to testify this week, announced the White House granted a one-time exception allowing them to appear by video conference. Around the White House grounds, new, unmistakable change: face coverings suddenly in use by a number of government employees. As the President conducted a national security session late Saturday —

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We’ve had a very, very productive meeting.

O’DONNELL: — Secret Service agents near President Trump covered their faces, but the President and military brass, who are all tested, did not. Mixed signals that can cause uncertainty with the virus inside the West Wing. The Washington Post reports, aides deemed essential have been encouraged by supervisors to come into the office, not taking 14 days to self-isolate.

A White House statement notes, “every precaution is taken,” listing “social distancing, temperature checks,” “regular deep cleaning” and daily testing. But it does not mention self-quarantine.

[Cuts back to live]

President Trump is very invested and encouraging people to get back to life. Maybe even back in the ring. He offered a video message to congratulate the UFC on its return to competition without any live spectators watching. The President, of course, wanting sports to come back, saying that’s a necessary part of life and UFC was among the first to get back in the ring. Willie?

GEIST: All right, Kelly O’Donnell at the White House. Kelly, thank you very much.

Chuck Todd is NBC’s political director and moderator of Meet the Press. Chuck, good morning. Good to see you as always. So, you have Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of this pandemic here in the United States, imposing a self-quarantine on himself for a couple of weeks. This kind of flies in the face the signals the President has been giving all week, which is that we need to “transition to greatness,” as he tweeted, turning the page in the country to looking to open the economy.

This is a President who really wants to refocus, as he said that task force is going to be more about looking at the economy than on the public health questions.

CHUCK TODD: You know, Willie, this week you watch this President and it felt like a weird plot twist in a horror movie. Right? He wants to focus on opening the economy and it’s almost like the virus had its own brain and it said, “Oh, no, you don’t, Mr. President, I’m coming inside your house.”

And so, it was this a stark reminder this isn’t a light switch that you can have. And it sort of, to me, put the spotlight on the President’s sort of inattention to the issue of, what do you do to help make people feel comfortable opening up the economy?

You know, this whole thing, he’s just been saying, ‘let’s go, come on, governors, open it up,’ without ever acknowledging that it’s going to take a dramatic increase in testing and tracing. And then, of course, we see the result in his own West Wing staff. So, here we are, I think it puts a huge spotlight on this issue of a lack of testing.

GEIST: And, of course, you can reopen the economy but public polling shows that most Americans of all political stripes aren’t quite ready to go back and resume life as normal until they get their arms around this disease.

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