Three weeks ago, President Trump was mocked and ridiculed for downplaying the need for more ventilators. “I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be,” Trump said on March 27. “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators,” he added, referring to Cuomo’s estimate for New York state. Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and others said they had “facts” on their side. Said De Blasio, “When the president says the state of New York doesn’t need 30,000 ventilators, with all due respect to him, he’s not looking at the facts of this astronomical growth of this crisis. And a ventilator . . . means someone lives or dies.”
NPR ran a strange piece casting these rival predictions as matters of fact also: “FACT CHECK: N.Y. Governor Slams Trump Ventilator Claim As ‘Ignorant’ And ‘Uninformed.’” Well, yes, it’s a fact that the governor expressed those opinions, but NPR doesn’t ordinarily fact-check opinions. NPR couldn’t fact-check the future in this “FACT CHECK,” and didn’t. The ventilator shortages of which we were all gravely warned have not yet come to pass. If we have indeed reached the crest of the crisis, perhaps they won’t.