It’s a holiday weekend for America, with both Passover and Easter happening in lockdown. Donald Trump has been “playing a game” for Easter, said Jimmy Kimmel from his home in Los Angeles. “It’s called ‘pin the tail on everyone else’.”
The president is “desperate to shift blame for the fact that we were unprepared for this pandemic”, Kimmel continued. On Wednesday, his scapegoat was the World Health Organization (WHO), which Trump claimed in a press conference “minimized the threat of coronavirus”.
“Did they minimize the threat? Because the person who said that this January looked an awful lot like you,” Kimmel said, drawing up a clip of Trump telling CNBC on 22 January that he wasn’t worried about coronavirus because “we have it totally under control”.
“In his defense, he’s not too bright,” said Kimmel. “So now, they’re trying to do damage control” – earlier this week, the White House dispatched the US trade adviser Peter Navarro, who wrote a memo in January warning Trump of the coronavirus threat which he ignored, to praise the president on Fox News. “Where do they keep finding all these sycophantic old white guys?” Kimmel wondered. “Do they have a machine that makes them? Are they 3D-printing them somewhere in Idaho or something?”
Meanwhile, “the vice-poodle seems to be learning some Trumpy new tricks about self-promotion,” said Kimmel, referring to Mike Pence office’s refusal to let White House health experts appear on CNN unless the network promised to air the vice-president’s non-expert comments. “I don’t know how we explain this to Mike Pence, but he isn’t Batman. He’s Robin,” said Kimmel. “Nobody cares about Robin. In the last 30 years they made nine Batman movies, Robin only got to be in two of them. So calm down, boy wonder. This is no way for the assistant commander of the space force to behave.”
A month into lockdown, Stephen Colbert was losing track of the days – swigging from a cocktail, reconfirming that it was indeed Thursday with his production team (his wife and son, off-camera), the Late Show host reflected that coming out of this, we may never be the same.
“Of course, all the experts agree that the only way out of this pandemic is to increase, in any way possible, widely available, reliable testing,” Colbert said. “So, naturally, it was announced yesterday that the White House will end federal support for coronavirus testing sites on Friday.
“Why is Trump opposed to the testing?” Colbert fumed. “Someone tell him they’re coronavirus tests, not paternity tests!”
Instead, the federal government will transition to state-managed testing sites as part of Trump’s strategy to shift responsibility for the crisis to the states. “Oh, OK, if only there was some way to coordinate among the states,” Colbert deadpanned, “some way to, I don’t know, unite the states of America under one government that had, let’s say, an emergency management agency, but on a federal level. Heck of a job, Trumpy!”
And on Late Night, Seth Meyers also reacted to the news that the federal government will end funding for coronavirus testing sites this Friday, with some locations shutting down. “You think now is the time to cut off funding for tests? Are you insane?” Meyers fumed. “It’s like getting halfway through surgery, taking the guy’s spleen out and saying: ‘All right, you can wake him up. He can sew himself back together, that’s the easy part.’”
As of Thursday, roughly 17 million people had lost their jobs in three weeks, and the death toll surpassed 15,000 in the US. “And yet, Trump is once again rushing to pretend this will all go away, and hoping people will forget that,” said Meyers, pointing to Trump’s comments in a press briefing and on Twitter that people should soon forget about the “invisible enemy” and move on.
“This bullshit is the same as people who act terribly and when you point out their terrible behavior cry, ‘What of civility?’” Meyers continued. “Civility isn’t a right, it’s earned! And sometimes people don’t deserve, just like people don’t deserve their bad decisions to be lost to history. And nothing gives away the game as to how badly Trump has handled this as Trump telling us now we have to forget about it when it’s over.”
Trump has reversed course several times over the past couple weeks, such as when he visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on 6 March and said he knew a lot about the virus because his uncle was a “super-genius” professor. “That was the day that Trump said anyone who wants a test will get a test, and now, he’s cutting funding for testing,” Meyers explained. “And I know he’d prefer it if we were all Drew Barrymore from 50 First Dates and we’d wake up each morning and say: ‘President Trump? Huh, I’ll give that a chance.’ But that’s not how most of our brains work. We remember the things we’ve said and we hold you to account for them.”