Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson got a solid thrashing on Twitter when he posted a video of him calling President Donald Trump “the most transparent president in history.”
Johnson made the comments on Greta Van Susteren‘s show Full Court Press as part of a discussion of the coronavirus pandemic and Bob Woodward‘s bombshell new book, Rage, that was based on hours of recorded, on-the-record interviews with the president.
“I don’t think anything he says to any reporter, or reported in any book, really comes across as a surprise to anybody, because he’s already said it publicly,” said Johnson.
Johnson continued, giving credit to Trump for shutting down travel from China and Europe, and claiming “it’s the Democrats who weren’t taking it seriously — President Trump was.”
“As President, do you want to further panic the American public?” said Johnson, adopting an argument that was tried unsuccessfully by several Trump campaign and administration staffers. “The line between civilization and anarchy can be pretty thin in a case where the public panics. So I think it was the responsibility of the President of the United States to do what he did and I think the administration did a great job.”
The trouble, of course, with Johnson’s defense of the president is that Woodward recorded with Trump’s knowledge and permission their mind-boggling eighteen interviews, and the news has been dominated for the past week with clips from those tapes — often followed by clips from Trump’s public comments directly contradicting what he told Woodward.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has been a repeat offender of this same flub, saying Trump “never downplayed the virus” when he literally told Woodward that’s exactly what he wanted to do, and then just in the past twenty-four hours claiming Trump has always said face masks are a good idea, when he said the opposite on an ABC town hall Tuesday evening.
Predictably, Johnson’s framing of Trump’s pandemic response as “transparent” and a “great job” struck many Twitter users as Manchurian-esque, evoking the classic film’s brainwashed characters who dutifully recite the line about their fellow soldier Raymond Shaw’s kindness and bravery when prompted.
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