Throughout Friday’s early hours, CNNers repeatedly expressed best wishes to President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump after having tested positive for the coronavirus. But behind those best wishes, CNN not only levied their usual, poisonous rhetoric, but plenty of subliminal levels of apocalyptic brainstorming, gloating, and calls for a return to global lockdowns.
Perhaps worst of all, it led off CNN analyst and former Obama flack Sam Vinograd claiming the President’s diagnosis could “be the most dangerous moment that the U.S. government has ever faced.” No word on why the Civil War, Cuban Missile Crisis, four presidential assassinations, September 11, 2001, or two World Wars tested America and her government less.
This author kept up through the night and combed the first 90 minutes of CNN Tonight after the President’s tweet to come up with the most ghoulish moments. Below is both a video providing but a sampling of the hot takes and then a Notable Quotables-style blog.
This ‘May Be the Most Dangerous Moment’ in U.S. Government History
“I said hours ago this was a code red moment for the U.S. government before we had these diagnoses from FLOTUS and POTUS. At this point, knowing that the President is sick and the pandemic is affecting personnel at the White House, this may be the most dangerous moment that the U.S. government has ever faced. The President is suffering from a deadly virus. It is something that we should be watching on an episode of Homeland. The President of the United States is suffering from a deadly virus. He has to quarantine. He's not able to fully perform his – his duties as commander-in-chief…The U.S. government is incredibly vulnerable at this moment. We do not have a full team on deck and that means there are major gaps in our national security coverage based on this diagnosis.”
– Vinograd, 1:06 a.m. Eastern.
Trump Isn’t ‘Incapacitated’ Now, But Who Knows? Maybe Later!
“[T]he President's doctor is saying, well, the President's going to carry out his duties without disruption while recovering. Well, we don't know that, for sure, yet. We’ll have to see, you know, how the President feels. If that is, indeed, part of the protocol of the government because, you know, at some point, the Vice President's supposed to take over if the President can't carry out his duties, in any way, or if is incapacitated. I'm not sure if the President will be incapacitated. It seems from the doctor's note, memorandum, that it indicates the President is feeling okay.
– CNN Tonight host Don Lemon, 1:54 a.m. Eastern.
Could ‘Obese’ Trump Suffer More From COVID?
Lemon: “He's 74 years old. He is obese. How great of a risk of someone of his age and his – with his health background?”
Chief medical analyst Dr. Sanjay Gupta: “Well, this is one of the great concerns and we’re obviously all hoping he and the First Lady have not developed much in the way of symptoms and statistically still, the statistics are on people's side even at that age. But this is a great concern. He's a vulnerable person because of his age, because of preexisting conditions. And this is the sort of thing that you know medical team is going to have to be watching out for and see if he does have symptoms and how quickly any symptoms might – might start to -- to occur and then what to do about it. And so, it’s tough to put in an exact number about it. We do know of course who's going to be more vulnerable and who is not. And I don't know, Don, just sort of read that memorandum from Dr. Conley. It doesn’t sound like President Trump has had any symptoms.”
– Conversation about Trump’s health, 1:23 a.m. Eastern.
Could Trump End Up in the ICU Like Boris?
“White House aides, who feel pressure to lie on behalf of the President, they should feel more pressure, now, from all of us in the public, to tell the public the truth in the coming days and weeks. You know, Boris Johnson, other world leaders, have been sick with COVID. Boris Johnson was in his 50s. He ended up in the ICU. He said, ‘it could have gone either way.’ I think the point there is that we shouldn't assume the best or the worst. We don't know. As Sanjay said, the odds are in the President's favor, but there are other world leaders that have suffered mightily as a result of this disease.”
– Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter, 2:03 a.m. Eastern.
“[T]hey've got to disclose this, which they did. They have got to continue to be fully transparent, in terms of his symptoms and we'll see. You know, we saw what happens with Boris Johnson in the U.K. after he contracted the disease. We'll have to see what happens with the President. In terms of his mindset, not just the physical, sort of, course, that this disease may or may not take for him.”
– Gupta, 2:16 a.m. Eastern.
Bernstein Salivates at Chance to Let ‘Scientists…Be Listened to,’ Return to Lockdowns
“[T]here’s now a dividing line, really in how we approach COVID. Are we finally now going to let the science prevail? Is the President going to say it’s time for scientists to be listened to, including by myself? It – we have a stark landscape in front of us and also, let's take a look also at the effectiveness on the rest of the world because it is going to be noticed. There are movements in Great Britain -- in the U.K. right now, open up we don't want to be locked down anymore. This is going on in other places too. It is very hard to imagine that after this that there is not going to be around the world, another look at a cavalier approach that we must start to do what the scientists have told us, what epidemiologists told us. This is DEFCON-1 in terms of the health of the people of the United States in terms of our political health, in terms of our stability in this country. We now have a defining moment in which this presidency has changed irrevocable, in which our politics have changed irrevocably.”
– Political analyst Carl Bernstein, 1:43 a.m. Eastern.
Gupta, Lemon Gloat About Hydroxychloroquine Not Saving Trump
Lemon: “Sanjay, you mentioned hydroxychloroquine. The President took it. It – it did not work. Listen. I don't mean to – that in a – you know, I'm not being facetious, but it did not. It obviously does not work and did not work for him.”
Gupta: “Yeah. I mean, you know, it did not and that's exactly what the evidence would've suggested. I mean, you know, people aren't just making this stuff up. There was a theory on this medication, maybe, it'll work, based on what we know of this medication.”
– Conversation about Trump’s health, 2:14 a.m. Eastern.
Ghouls: CNNers Float Hypothetical Barrett Quarantine Hindering Confirmation
“[Mark Meadows has] also been on Capitol Hill with the Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett and I think we have a picture to show you just how many levels of power are going to be involved in this and may potentially have to quarantine. There you see it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on the right. The Supreme Court nominee in the center. And then, on the left, you see the President's three, top aides. The Vice President Mike Pence, Mark Meadows, and the guy on the left in the red tie is the White House counsel, Pat Cipollone. These are all massive power players that have all been around the President and Hope Hicks…so the question of what kind of power in Washington is going to look like over the next few weeks as we figure out how severe the President's diagnosis is going to be, and how widespread this really is among his circle is just to be determined.”
– White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins, 1:57 a.m. Eastern.
Lemon: “You saw the photograph that Kaitlan made us aware of. You see Mitch McConnell. You see Mark Meadows. You see the Vice President. And you see Amy Coney Barrett, right? So, she’s there. The hearings are supposed to start. Are they going to have to be postponed, now? Is she going to have to quarantine because the Vice President, admittedly, on camera, saying that he met – he was in the Oval Office. He met with the President on Tuesday.”
Gupta: “Yeah. I mean, so, this is concerning. This is very concerning, obviously, and there's going to need to be significant contact tracing…Strictly speaking, we're really talking about the idea of – of quarantining people who've come in contact with someone with known COVID. Now, Vice President Pence was in the Oval Office but does not have known COVID, then she may technically not need to be quarantined. I am talking about Amy Coney Barrett, now. But this is – this is going to be a tangled web and it's going to be challenging.”
– Speculation about ACB’s future, 1:59 a.m. Eastern.
Doubting the Trump Administration Has Any ‘Continuity’ of Government Plan
“Every administration puts together one of those continuity plans, does scenario planning such that, if infection does cripple the top tier of the government, there is a continuity plan in place. But Don, I don't have a great faith that this administration has done any scenario planning. At this point, it is unclear to me that the President and his team have done basic homework to try to figure out what to do if the President of the United States is unable to perform his duties. This is an unprecedented situation based on the infection and based on the White House's lack of preparedness in this situation.”
– Vinograd, 1:09 a.m. Eastern.
Irresponsible Don, Brian Paint ‘Conservative Media,’ Trump Supporters as Ignorant on Virus
Lemon: “A big part of the administration – arm of the administration, quite frankly, has been conservative media. And as I understand now, well, what I am trying to understand is how they are going to portray this now. Are they going to continue on with the messaging of the President and carrying the water of the President by downplaying this virus or will they now turn to scientists and not, you know, Dr. Atlas – the Dr. Atlas’s of the world who continue to promote such thing as herd immunity and so on and so forth and to downplay masks. Are we going to hear more from the Faucis and Birxs of the world rather than the Atlas and the President – President's wishful thinking of this power?”
Stelter: “Well, I think the President’s technique, often mirrored by his media allies, is that every day is a new day and every day is a new show. Forget the day before, there is a new show today. Obviously, this storyline is very serious and very urgent and it’s completely different from yesterday…I hope Dr. Fauci is taken more seriously now. His message is very simple. The winter is going to be tough but we can get through it together as a country and as an entire world population through masks, through social distancing and even into 2021, this is not going to be a short-term solution.”
– Repugnant banter, 1:45 a.m. Eastern.
Bernstein Invokes Russia, Calls This ‘A National Security Crisis’ Like Never Before
Lemon: “In large part, it's his own dereliction -- is partly to blame to this. He chose to go out to rallies. He chose to downplay masks. He chose to not social distance and -- and call it a hoax…[I]t’s horrible that the President has this, but he chose to handle the situation this way…Was this inevitable?”
Bernstein: “I wouldn’t say it’s inevitable, but I would say it is his recklessness has contributed to -- to this horrible situation…We are now in the midst of a national security crisis that is different than any one in our history in this country. We have to be concerned about adversaries, particular – particularly Russia…We have to think about possible cyber-manipulation of the markets. You’ve talked about the markets and, obviously, this is going to have a huge effect on the markets…We don't know what his health is going to be. It’s going to totally upend the end of the election campaign. So, every aspect of our national life, in terms of stability, these are now affected in ways that we could never have envisioned a day and I think we need to start from – from that perspective, political equation, of course, what you’re talking about is there as well…But first, let's look at all the invitations in terms of our national security. I am sure there are all kinds of alerts that have gone out to military and civilians.”
– Hyperbolic game-planning, 1:33 a.m. Eastern.
Lemon Hopes This Marks a ‘Reckoning’ to Stop Reopening Our Economy, Schools
“Is this a moment of reckoning for the President and this administration? For all of the – all of the pretending or looking the other way…for whatever reason? Whether – whether it was for – to make sure that he was re-elected…for whatever reason, because of the economy. Is this now a moment of reckoning that, yes, this is real. It is not a hoax. It doesn't care if you're a Democrat or a Republican. It is time to take this seriously, and all the preventative measures that the scientists, the doctors, like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, have been touting for so long?”
– Lemon, 2:14 a.m. Eastern.
Lemon: “So, I asked Dr. Gupta if he thought this was a reckoning. I think a better question is, is this an opportunity…Is this an opportunity for the President, now, to correct course? To – and to get people to get on board and to, now, take it seriously? To tell people to wear masks? To tell people to social distance? To tell people, maybe, it's not such a good idea to open up all sections of the economy right now? To send all children back to school? That people should not be out hanging in bars and drinking, where they won't social distance? Is this an opportunity for – to have more buy-in from the American public that will actually put our economy and the health of the country back on track?”
Former Planned Parenthood president Dr. Leana Wen: “I really hope so, Don.”
– Conversation at 2:25 a.m. Eastern.
Bragging First Family Having COVID Will Hurt GOP in November
Bernstein: “And that also has to do with the Republicans in general, especially in the Senate races but also Republican Party on Capitol Hill which has following this President's steps in its denial and his denial of this being a situation of national emergency that needs to be dealt with – with the severity and urgency that is required. This is not going to help Republicans. I think we can safely assume this[.]”
– Bernstein, 1:48 a.m. Eastern.
Tin-Foil Hats Wonder If Trump’s Actually Feeling Okay, Speculate on 2019 Walter Reed Visit
Lemon: “So, at this point, it appears, from them, that they are doing well. We hope they continue to, but we know things can take a turn with COVID. Hope it doesn't but we just don't know, at this point. Again, I keep saying, and this is the God's honest truth, so many unknowns, at this moment. We are in brand new territory here, Carl.”
Bernstein: It's not just a question of brand new territory. There is also some old territory…[I]t's very significant, perhaps, that the White House physician, in his report, did not say anything about whether or not the President is experiencing or has experienced symptoms and others in the White House are telling reporters that they, too, have not learned anything about whether or not the President is experiencing or has experienced symptoms and we have to go back and look at the fact that this President has tried to hide his medical condition from us. He's had that secret visit to Walter Reed Hospital, that we still don't know what it was really about…We really need, at this point, both the press to do its job, vigorously and at the same time, there has got to be some kind of change to the attitude that is going to be forced upon the White House, if we are to get through this period in the way that we need to, in an orderly and stable way.”
– Fear-mongering strategy session, 2:05 a.m. Eastern.