Sunday morning talking heads

Sunday morning talking heads

After weeks of coverage of civil unrest following the killing of George Floyd the Sunday shows return to their springtime roots today. It’s back to COVID-19 and the outbreaks across southern states that have already slowed America’s reopening and might soon reverse it. The people the White House has chosen to lead its messaging effort this morning are an interesting bunch: No Fauci, no Birx, no career scientists at all (at least according to the schedule as of Saturday). Instead they’re sending out political appointees, the sort of people who can be relied on to paint a rosier picture of the current outbreak than a Fauci or Birx might be willing to.

VP Mike Pence will chat with “Face the Nation” while HHS Secretary Alex Azar sits down with “Meet the Press” and “State of the Union.” Expect them to emphasize that deaths from coronavirus are still waaaaay down from their peak, which is true, and that the current uptick in cases isn’t that big a deal, which is not true. Pence will also be grilled (further) on Trump’s insistence on holding indoor rallies amid the outbreak and whether there’s a Plan B for the upcoming GOP convention in Jacksonville as Florida copes with a major spike.

The other star guest is John Bolton, who’ll speak to “Meet the Press” about his book and criticisms of Trump various and sundry. Bolton’s been harder on POTUS during his book tour for how he handled China and North Korea than for how he’s handled Russia, but that may change this morning when he’s asked about U.S. intelligence discovering that Russian intel had placed “bounties” on U.S. soldiers with Afghan jihadis. The National Security Council was chatting about that as far back as March, the NYT reports, and Trump himself was allegedly briefed on it. And yet as recently as June 3 the president was pushing the G7 to include Russia in its next summit. Why? What’s their punishment for targeting American soldiers?

Elsewhere, Tim Scott will talk with “Face the Nation” about the dimming prospects for police reform in Congress this year. And Andrew Cuomo will get the “distinguished expert” treatment on “Meet the Press,” where he’ll gloat over the fact that southern states that reopened early are now struggling to contain an outbreak of COVID-19. The grim reality: New York State has one-third the total population of new hot spots Texas, Florida, and Arizona and yet more than four times as many deaths. The number of nursing-home residents in New York who died amid Cuomo’s infamous policy of readmitting the infected exceeds the overall death toll in Texas and Florida — combined. That’s what bad governance will get you, but take that victory lap, Andrew. The full line-up is at the AP.

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David Strom 5:21 PM on March 31, 2023