Seth Meyers Dismantles Trump’s Anti-Panic COVID-19 Strategy

Seth Meyers
NBC

"You didn't want to create a panic? Well, congrats, dude, you nailed it," the late night host said sarcastically. "Aside from a once-in-a-century economic crash that's threatening the health and livelihoods of millions of people — not to mention lines at food banks and fights in supermarket aisles over toilet paper — everybody's super chill."

During his first official week back in studio, Late Night host Seth Meyers broke down President Donald Trump's latest scandal involving comments to Watergate journalist Bob Woodward. The recently released interviews reveal the president was aware of the severity of the novel coronavirus pandemic in its earliest months and knowingly downplayed it.

"The question with Trump is always: Is he deluded or is he lying? Obviously, the answer is often both, but in this particular case, it turns out Trump wasn't just in denial, he did know the truth about the coronavirus and he lied about it. He was aware that it was airborne, that it was deadly, and that it was worse than the flu," Meyers said on Thursday's Late Night. "He could have easily informed the American people of the risks. Instead, he covered it up, as he confessed to journalist Bob Woodward in the bombshell tapes."

The 13-minute "Closer Look" segment pairs audio clips featuring some of the Woodward interviews' biggest revelations with video clips of the president making contradictory claims over the past few months. Before expressing shock over Trump talking "even semi-coherently about something," Meyers specifically homed in on Trump's confessions about the coronavirus being airborne and "more deadly than even your more strenuous flues."

At one point, Meyers chalked Trump's handling of the pandemic up to "an intentional strategy to hide the true danger of the situation from the American people."

"Imagine if Trump had said what you just heard on that tape in public at the start of the outbreak — even if he screwed up everything else, which he definitely would have — it still would have helped encourage more of his supporters to take the virus seriously," Meyers said. "Instead, while he was privately confessing that he knew coronavirus was much deadlier than the flu, he was publicly telling people it was just like the flu and suggesting it could even be cured by a flu shot."

Speaking specifically about the president's repeated talking points claiming that April's rising temperatures would help slow or even end the spread of the virus, Meyers likened the president to an out-of-touch Florida condo owner.

After playing a clip of Trump in a rally early this year referring to the virus as "a new thing that a lot of people are talking about," Meyers said, "You don't look like the guy I go to to find out the new thing everyone's talking about. You look like the guy I go to when I'm confused about the condo bylaws. He talks about a deadly disease like it's a new app: 'It's a new thing a lot of people are talking about. It's called Face App. I tried it but it just gave me the Ark of the Covenant face.'"

Tackling Trump's claim following the release of the tapes that he lied and withheld information from the public about the virus to reduce panic, Meyers sarcastically called  Trump "the picture of calm and poise" and labeled him the "human embodiment of yelling fire in a crowded theater."

"Yeah, you didn't want to create a panic? Well, congrats, dude, you nailed it. For the last six months, I did my show from literally a panic room," Meyers said. "Aside from a once-in-a-century economic crash that's threatening the health and livelihoods of millions of people — not to mention lines at food banks and fights in supermarket aisles over toilet paper — everybody's super chill."

Watch the entire segment below.