Trump accuses media of trying to ‘shame’ him over holding Tulsa rally amid coronavirus
President Trump on Monday accused the news media of attempting to “shame” his reelection campaign over plans to hold a rally during the coronavirus pandemic, accusing them of having “no Covid problem” in their coverage of nationwide protests against police brutality.
“The Far Left Fake News Media, which had no Covid problem with the Rioters & Looters destroying Democrat run cities, is trying to Covid Shame us on our big Rallies. Won’t work!” Trump tweeted, suggesting the coverage of the protests had not pointed out risks of the demonstrations possibly leading to a spread of the coronavirus.
The president is scheduled to hold a rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday, his first campaign rally since March after the campaign suspended the events as states and the federal government looked to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Over the weekend, the director of Tulsa’s health department raised concerns with the president’s plan to hold the rally in the city, pointing to a “significant increase” in case trends that would make a large gathering unsafe.
The editorial board of Tulsa World has called on Trump to reconsider hosting the campaign rally in the city, calling it the “wrong time” to do so during the pandemic.
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted later Monday that each guest at the rally would receive a temperature check, hand sanitizer and a mask prior to entering the arena.
The rally is scheduled to take place at the BOK Center, a venue that holds 19,000 people. Those who sign up for tickets to the event need to click a disclaimer that says they acknowledge the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to sue the Trump campaign or the host venue in the event they contract the disease.
As of Monday, more than 2 million Americans have been infected by the coronavirus and more than 115,000 have died as a result of the virus, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
A number of states across the country have seen spikes in cases and hospitalizations as they relax restrictions meant to curb the spread of the disease so that businesses can reopen and the economy, which has been devastated by the pandemic, can begin to recover.
The Saturday rally has already been rescheduled once after it was originally announced for Friday, which overlapped with Juneteenth, the day that commemorates the end of slavery.
The timing and location of the event drew swift backlash, particularly given the ongoing unrest over police brutality and racial injustice following the police killing of George Floyd.
Public health officials have also warned about the risk of the protests and other large-scale events spreading the coronavirus.
Demonstrations have broken out across the country in the wake of Floyd’s death last month, attracting thousands of participants. Many protesters have worn masks, but the size of the demonstrations has allowed for little social distancing.
“You know, it’s a danger to the people who are trying to control the demonstration,”Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said of the protests on ABC News’s “Powerhouse Politics” podcast on Friday. “And it’s a danger to the people who are demonstrating. So at the end of the day, it is a risky procedure.”
Fauci also said that the same advice was applicable to the president’s campaign rallies.
Trump and his allies have argued that the protests opened the door for the campaign to begin staging rallies again.
“States demonstrated with the protest of last week that crowds don’t appear to be an issue to policymakers or executives of state governments,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said in an interview on Fox News earlier Monday.
McDaniel, like Trump, also suggested that the scrutiny of the decision to hold the rally was disproportionate to that of the protests.
“It’s funny that now that we’re having a Trump rally and we’re bringing people out to celebrate their nominee for their party, all of this scrutiny is coming upon us,” McDaniel said.
While McDaniel noted she was not involved in the planning for the rally, she said that masks were likely to be optional and argued that those with underlying health conditions would choose not to attend the rally in order to avoid risking exposure.
Updated at 11:19 a.m.