Despite his best efforts to spin the coronavirus outbreak as not that big of a deal in public, Donald Trump is reportedly all kinds of freaked out over the disease’s continued spread in private, harboring some particularly paranoid fears. According to Vanity Fair—or Fake News Vanity Fair, as Trump will probably call it in a tweet 10 minutes from now—the “Germaphobe in Chief” told aides last week that “he’s afraid journalists will try to purposefully contract coronavirus to give it to him on Air Force One,” and “has asked the Secret Service to set up a screening program and bar anyone who has a cough from the White House grounds.” VF cites a source close to the administration, who said Trump is “definitely melting down over this.” You can practically picture him cowering under the Resolute desk, jolting upright in fear every time a passerby clears their throat.
To hear Trump’s flailing, defensive tweets tell it, coronavirus is little more than an elaborate means of bringing him down, somehow concocted by the “enemy of the people” to muddy Trump’s sterling reputation. He’s taken this delusion as far as expressing a desire for “[the Department of] Justice to open investigations of the media for market manipulation,” a source close to the White House tells VF. Trump’s efforts to twist the coronavirus narrative to his liking have failed comprehensively as the disease approaches pandemic status, and he refuses to cancel his beloved rallies, despite the public health risks they carry. It’s astonishing how often Trump can just bullshit his way out of a corner—it would appear, definitively, that won’t be happening here.
A source who spoke to the president this past weekend told VF, “He’s just now waking up to the fact that this is bad, and he doesn’t know how to respond.” Nice time to have a grown-up in the Oval Office, isn’t it?