White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked Monday to explain why President Donald Trump retweeted former game show host Chuck Woolery’s claim that “everyone is lying” about the coronavirus, including the Centers for Disease Control, as a way to keep the economy coming back before the election.
A reporter asked McEnany, “The president retweeted something this morning … saying that the CDC is lying about the coronavirus in order to hurt his chances of getting re-elected. Does the president believe that the CDC is lying about COVID-19?”
McEnany tried to explain what the intent of Trump’s retweet was — blaming his displeasure on CDC leaks and “some rogue individuals.”
“The president, with his intent in that retweet, expresses displeasure with the CDC, some rogue individuals leaking guidelines prematurely,” she said. “You had a 63-page plan that was leaked prematurely. He believes that that misleads the American public when there are planning materials released that are not in their fullest form and their best form. So that’s what he was getting at.”
Woolery’s tweet, though, was a sweeping statement that doesn’t mention anything about leaks. It suggested that the CDC, media, Democrats and “our doctors” are lying about the coronavirus.
In his tweet, Woolery wrote: “The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid 19. Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust. I think it’s all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election. I’m sick of it.”
The tweet didn’t specify what the lies are, but in a later tweet, Woolery wrote: “There is so much evidence, yes scientific evidence, that schools should open this fall. It’s worldwide and it’s overwhelming. BUT NO.”
Woolery, the original host of Wheel of Fortune who went on to host the dating show Love Connection and other game shows, is one of Trump’s ardent celebrity defenders on Twitter.
The president’s retweet came after reports that the White House was sending out a memo to reporters pointing out times when they claim that Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the coronavirus task force and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been wrong about COVID-19.
News outlets described the memo as something akin to political opposition research, and led to speculation that Fauci could be on the outs. He has been largely absent from TV appearances but has given print and other interviews, including one last week in which he disputed the notion that the U.S. is “doing great” in fighting the coronavirus.
But McEnany said that the memo was sent out because “we were asked a very specific question by the Washington Post, and that question was President Trump noted that Dr. Fauci had made some mistakes, and we provided a direct answer to what was a direct question.”
Later, Trump said he has a “very good relationship” with Fauci, adding: “I find him to be a very nice person. I don’t always agree with him.”
Andrew Bates, director of rapid response for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign said, “Infections in the United States have skyrocketed, surpassing every other country in the world by far, specifically because of Trump’s refusal to listen to science. The president’s disgusting attempt to pass the buck by blaming the top infectious disease expert in the country — whose advice he repeatedly ignored and Joe Biden consistently implored him to take — is yet another horrible and revealing failure of leadership as the tragic death toll continues to needlessly grow.”