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The Proper Context for Blame

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Claudio Furlan/LaPresse via AP

On Monday, March 16, 2020, President Donald Trump took to the podium in the White House pressroom and began to make the case to the American people that the underlying operations of the country must change to stop the growth of the Wuhan coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, in the United States.

The president wants Americans to end discretionary travel; shelter in place for 15 days; limit gatherings to no more than 10 people; avoid eating at restaurants and bars; and avoid gyms and other recreational spots if the virus is spreading in that community.

For several weeks, Democrats and the media blasted the president. At the end of January, the president imposed a travel ban on China. The very media now blasting the president for not taking the matter seriously began to attack the president. According to experts at the time, the president's ban on travel with China would make fighting the virus more difficult. In hindsight, the experts now agree it was the right decision.

The media continues to attack the president and his administration for daring to use the phrases "Chinese virus" and "Wuhan virus" to describe COVID-19, because they are supposedly racist. The Zika and West Nile viruses come from regions in Africa. No one claimed those were racist. But the communist Chinese are screaming and in full denial that the virus originated in Wuhan. The American media and progressive activists are helpfully defending the communist Chinese, just as they did when the National Basketball Association refused to take a stand for human rights in Hong Kong.

To really get the proper context for what is going on, however, we need to step back. On Jan. 19, 2020, a 35-year-old man with a 4-day-old cough went to an urgent care clinic in Snohomish County, Washington. He had traveled back from Wuhan, China and was the first diagnosed COVID-19 patient in the United States.

Chinese health authorities who now insist the Wuhan virus did not come from China were actually quite helpful on Dec. 31, 2019, when they reported a pneumonia outbreak at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan. On Jan. 7, 2020, the Chinese confirmed there was person-to-person spread of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the Democrats were impeaching the president. Though the president had just allowed the American military to take out Qassem Soleimani, the major general overseeing Iran's terrorist operations, and then witnessed media screams that he had triggered World War III, Democrats and their press allies plowed ahead foolishly with impeachment.

It became an existential threat to and distraction for the president. All the president's attention turned to impeachment. The press turned to silliness with aggressively hostile and partisan coverage of the President. The republic had arrived at partisan warfare with the press taking the Democrats' side. In fairness, however, the press had been on the Democrats' side since the election.

Into this, the press and Democrats began screaming about a man in Washington state who had come back from China. But, when the president took direct action in the middle of his impeachment trial to stop travel with China, the press and Democrats attacked him for that, too.

There are reasons to be critical of some of the president's statements and tweets regarding the virus. In seeking to avoid a panic and in seeking to calm people, he did, arguably, go too far to dismiss concerns. But a fair-minded person does need to read the president's actions through the process of a distracting impeachment with a partisan press and Democrats coming up with every imaginable excuse to savage him.

The American press, humorously, spent that entire period referring to COVID-19 as the "Wuhan virus" or "Wuhan coronavirus." While calling it that, they attacked the President for doing too much to stop the virus. Now they call the president a racist for using their own words and attack him for doing too little.

One can hardly blame the president for treating the worry over the spread of the Wuhan virus as a partisan tool of the Democrats. The press and Democrats treated it that way, too.

To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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