There’s been an ongoing war of words between Trump and Pelosi which heated up today when the president put out this tweet reminding people of Pelosi’s visit to Chinatown in late February:

Several news outlets have rushed to defend Pelosi including FactCheck.org and the San Francisco Chronicle. Fact Check points out that there’s no evidence Pelosi ever deleted video about her Chinatown visit from Twitter. In fact, the only video she posted from her visit is still up:

And both Fact Check and the Chronicle say it’s not true, as Trump claimed Wednesday, that Pelosi wanted to have “parties” in Chinatown. Here’s the Chronicle making that point:

Trump said at his daily White House news briefing that after he barred travelers from China on Feb. 2 and set up screening rules for U.S. citizens returning from the country, “Nancy Pelosi was trying to have in San Francisco parties in Chinatown because she thought it would be great.”

Trump was misleadingly describing a tour of Chinatown that Pelosi made Feb. 24 with local merchants, having lunch and visiting shops and businesses as customers vanished from the area.

So it’s fair to say that Trump’s description of Pelosi’s visit and her tweets about it were sloppy. But I think the media is a little too eager to miss the point which still stands. When Pelosi visited Chinatown on February 24 she may not have called for parties but she did call for more tourism and encouraged people to come and have a good time walking the streets and shopping as she was doing on that day. She posted a transcript of some of her comments on her website:

I’m here today, particularly, to say thank you to the community for the sense of family values and sense of community that they provide.

But also to say to everyone: we should come to Chinatown.  Precautions have been taken by our city.  We know that there is concern surrounding tourism, traveling all throughout the world, but we think it’s very safe to be in Chinatown and hope that others will come.

It’s lovely here.  The food is delicious, the shops are prospering, the parade was great.  Walking tours continue.  Please come and visit and enjoy Chinatown…

So, that’s why we want people to come to Chinatown.  Don’t be afraid.  Enjoy it all.  It’s beautiful and there are some good bargains here now, so it’s a good time to come…

But, all I can say is that I’m here.  We feel safe and sound, so many of us, coming here to not only say that it’s safe, but to say thank you for being Chinatown.  Thank you.

That’s not exactly calling for a party but she’s definitely pushing people to get out and mingle in Chinatown. One day after Pelosi made this trip, the city of San Francisco declared a state of emergency. So things were starting to get serious but obviously Pelosi wasn’t championing social distancing at that point.

The point I think the media doesn’t want to let Trump make but which needs to be made is this: People on the left and right who were well-briefed on what was going on with the virus were not ready to shut down entire counties or states in February. It simply wasn’t going to happen because at the time the number of cases was low and the death toll was low. As Pelosi said in Chinatown, there was a belief we were prepared for what was coming.

It wasn’t until early March that major businesses like the NBA began shutting down. The first counties to shut down were the ones in the Bay Area including San Francisco. That happened on March 16, exactly one month ago. It would be nice if Pelosi and others could try to keep this realistic timeline in mind when blaming the president for not shutting down the entire country sooner.