The WHO Is Trump’s Latest Target in His COVID-19 Blame Game

The WHO Is Trump’s Latest Target in His COVID-19 Blame Game
President Donald Trump after speaking at a White House news conference about the coronavirus, Washington, March 14, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

For those still curious about the meaning of gaslighting, look no further than President Donald Trump’s verbal assault on the World Health Organization last week. In a flagrant attempt to divert attention from his own poor performance during the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump excoriated the WHO for alleged delays and dysfunction in its global response. Beyond its immediate details, the episode offered a textbook example of how conservative U.S. politicians curry favor with their sovereignty-minded constituencies by treating multilateral organizations as pinatas and scapegoats during crises.

To recap, the president unloaded on the WHO on April 7, first on Twitter and then in his daily coronavirus briefing. “The WHO really blew it,” Trump tweeted, blasting the “China centric” agency for offering “faulty recommendations” early in the crisis. “Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on,” he claimed. That afternoon he expanded his critique, falsely alleging that the WHO had called the initial Wuhan outbreak “no big deal.” “They called it wrong… they missed the call,” he continued. “And we’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO.”

Trump’s acolytes on Capitol Hill sang from the same hymnal, blaming the agency and its director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, for the pandemic and its fallout. “If they had done their job, everybody would have gotten more ready,” Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida told Fox News. “We wouldn’t have shut down this economy, and we wouldn’t have all these people dead all over the world.” Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, chair of the Senate’s appropriations subcommittee, warned, “I’m not going to support funding under [WHO’s] current leadership. They’ve been deceptive, they’ve been slow, and they’ve been Chinese apologists.”

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review