Bad Takes on the Coronavirus

A collection of asininity.
by Jim Swift
March 14, 2020
Featured Image
(Hannah Yoest)

The internet being what it is, and politics being what it is, and 2020 dumbassery being what it is, there are a lot of bad COVID-19 takes floating around. This should come as no surprise, since the growth of social media has taught us two things: (1) everyone’s opinion matters, and (2) we are all experts.

Not all of us can get elected president, but while our Dear Leader shares his thoughts, impulses, and whims on something with which he is entirely unfamiliar, the rest of us are left to wonder: Who cares about our opinions?

Ideally, the answer would be just about nobody, unless we happen to be immunologists or epidemiologists or otherwise possess relevant expertise. But the bad takes abound nonetheless. It’s worth taking a moment to look back at some of the worst coronavirus takes from the last couple of months—just so you can make a mental note never to take any of the authors seriously again.

There isn’t enough time or pixels to offer a truly comprehensive account of bad takes, just like there aren’t enough respirators or test kits to actually test for COVID-19. Consider this just a selection of some of the folks who, despite advice and evidence from experts, decided not to take the coronavirus seriously or to treat it as a subject of bizarre conspiratorial speculation. (Note: This list does not include iffy statements from President Trump, who has repeatedly demonstrated he cannot be trusted to get the facts right.)

The epidemiologists have logged on. 

You remember Candace Owens, don’t you? After finishing her residency at the University of Rhode Island Medical . . . just kidding. Candace dropped out of college as a junior to become famous, later working for fellow college dropout Charlie Kirk at TPUSA; she is currently working with Dennis Prager at PragerU, which is not a degree-granting institution.

Ms. Owens has a host of horrible coronavirus opinions, but here’s just one to get things started: we shouldn’t worry so much about COVID-19 because fewer people will likely die of it than died in World War II or because of the 1918 flu:

So, according to Ms. Owens, unless the death scale approaches that of history’s biggest global war or the deadliest modern pandemic, we really should worry less. Trust her, she almost has a degree in journalism from the University of Rhode Island (but is an instructor at PragerU).

Bill Mitchell has you covered.

The weird grifter-in-chief has probably covered all angles of coronavirus you probably never thought possible. For example, did you know that in 2003, SARS apparently got 56 million media mentions? It’s not clear where Mitchell got this number, just roll with it. And, since that seems like a high number, consider this: “COVID-19 has gotten over a billion.”

Except Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist in 2003, so SARS getting that number of media mentions back then is kind of a big deal. 

But muh sports? Mitchell has you covered. Is Trump a genius for locking down Chinese travel? Who are you going to believe? Certainly not the fake COVID-19 models, which are clearly as fake as global warming, amirite? Will the heat kill coronavirus? Vote in my poll! Don’t believe me? Talk to this gadfly Senate candidate with a Ph.D. who not only supposedly invented email but believes this is just Deep State fearmongering. You can trust Mitchell, though. He apparently once didn’t wake up for five days because of the flu and nobody canceled anything.

Trump defenders aren’t the only ones with dumb takes on coronavirus.

Consider this:

It’s clearly not the case that young people are “unscathed” by the coronavirus. Their potential rate of death from COVID-19 is apparently lower. But if they have affected family members, or if they’re part of the gig economy or employed in an affected industry, things aren’t probably going very well for them.

It’s all a scheme to destroy Trump!

There are many, many galaxy-brain takes of this sort, but here’s John Cardillo from Newsmax:

Sure, John. The news media aren’t covering this story because it’s important and deadly, they’re only covering it because they want to take down President Donald J. Trump.

Kudos to Matt Walsh from the Daily Wire, who took the extraordinary (at least in these times) step of chastising Cardillo:

It’s a North Korean bioweapon!

On Friday morning’s video version of the Presidential Daily Briefing (i.e., Fox & Friends), Jerry Falwell Jr. joined the show to inform the president that not only is the American public “overreacting” to coronavirus, and not only is it a ploy to take down Trump, but it’s a North Korean bioweapon. (Note: In the Commonwealth of Virginia, where Falwell lives, psychedelic drugs are illegal.)

It gets worse.

The president’s prosperity gospel grifter—erm, “spiritual adviser”—has thoughts. If you have the time and money next month, Paula White will be speaking at a conference in Phoenix that is advertising itself as a place where people can find “supernatural protection from the coronavirus now.”

As Matthew Sheffield reports:

David Herzog, the minister who is planning the event, has claimed all sorts of magical powers, including that he has helped people increase their height, cure baldness, and even made their tattoos disappear.

Just don’t drink the colloidal silver that old-school televangelist grifter Jim Bakker was hawking, or the weird iodine shit that Alex Jones is selling while he’s on bail for DUI.

This is all a ploy to destroy the economy and steal the White House.

I know what you’re thinking: Alex Jones, right? Nope! This one is Sean Davis at The Federalist:

It’s the safest time to fly! 

Don’t trust me, trust Ainsley Earhardt (not to be confused with Amelia Earhart), who is apparently the biology expert on Fox & Friends.

(At least she really did study biology as an undergrad, before changing her major to journalism.)

CHINA COUP.

A major theme among the conspiracy theorists is that China’s leadership decided to tank their country’s economy and kill thousands of their citizens just to get to the Donald. They’re so wily. I think that’s from The Art of War. Can’t be sure.

Here’s Ron Coleman, the general counsel for the Media Bloggers Association, suggesting that the coronavirus is an anti-Trump ploy:

If you needed any further proof to distrust random bloggers, their bonkers general counsel is a compelling reason. 

The Joe Biden Angle. 

Julie Kelly is a nutty, bad-faith operator who writes for AmGreatness, an orange blog that loves The Donald so much its writers have to smoke a Marlboro every time President Trump makes a public statement. 

Haha, it’s funny because Joe Biden sometimes inappropriately interacts with people. In public. In front of cameras. In front of the world. It’s not like he was ever a guy who said he liked to grab women “by the pussy,” or has been credibly accused by multiple women of abuse. 

Or, perhaps, as Ms. Kelly says, social distancing is just a “leftist plot to gain control of the country”:

Don’t worry, only wimps die from coronavirus. (You’re not a wimp, are you?)

This gem comes to us from Jim Hanson, who runs a little (and little-known) think tank. Mr. Hanson thinks that drinking from a hose and spending time outside confers the strong immune system needed to defeat the coronavirus:

But wait: Isn’t COVID-19 disproportionately harming the elderly, who are more likely to have sipped from hoses and less likely to have nibbled on avocado toast?

Strange new respect. 

To mix things up a bit: Lots of people I generally don’t respect have had some surprisingly good takes on coronavirus, and in the spirit of fairness, I feel they’re owed a bit of praise.

Kurt Schlichter at Townhall wrote that this could be President Trump’s Hurricane Katrina. He may have been wrong in much of the article about how Trump would respond (experts? lol.) but he was right that, if bungled, it would be a Katrina-level event. 

Perhaps it’s your time to die.

Candace Owens thinks that if you’re old, well, maybe it’s just time to die. “This tweet will age well,” she promises. She’s not alone. British troll Katie Hopkins has a similar take:

As much as I’d like to keep this item updated with new bad takes, let’s be straight: Who has the time? Things are going to get worse—not only from as the pandemic spreads but as the bad takes spread, too. If you’re stuck at home, I’d encourage you not to watch cable news, and encourage your family to avoid it, too. Especially Fox News.

Jim Swift

Jim Swift is a senior editor at The Bulwark.