Anderson Cooper today blasted Donald Trump for asserting that a much-criticized suggestion that injections of disinfectants might kill COVID-19 was mere "sarcasm."
"He's lying about something that we all witnessed, just yesterday, of him talking to his own Coronavirus Task Force about doing research into injecting bleach, disinfectants into people, somehow cleaning them from the inside because disinfectant works on tabletops and things like that," Cooper said on Friday's edition of CNN Newsroom. "And now the president is claiming he was speaking sarcastically to reporters, sarcastically suggesting that. There was no sarcasm. We have the tape."
Trump raised the possibility at Thursday's task force press briefing. "I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute," he said. "And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? As you see, [the virus] gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that."
He also brought up the idea of somehow putting ultraviolet light inside the body to kill the virus, directing the comment to Bill Bryan, head of the Department of Homeland Security's science and technology division. When reporters questioned Bryan, he said his labs aren't looking at anything like that.
After the briefing there was a flood of news coverage in which health experts denounced Trump's bizarre suggestions, and memes lampooning them quickly spread on the internet. Makers of disinfectants, likely fearing someone would actually try injecting or even ingesting them, put out statements saying no one should do so, as the action could cause serious illness or death.
Reporters pressed Trump on the comments Friday at a signing ceremony for a coronavirus relief package. "I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters just like you, just to see what would happen," he replied. "I was asking a sarcastic and a very sarcastic question to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside. But it does kill it and it would kill it on the hands, and it would make things much better."
But Trump's suggestions were dead serious and not directed at reporters, Cooper pointed out. What's more, they were "idiotic," "dangerous," and "ludicrous," the CNN anchor said, and now Trump is seeking to "rewrite what we all know and saw as though we are all morons." The president clearly makes idiotic statements and lies every day, but Cooper is one of the few journalists willing to bluntly say so, with many others using euphemisms such as "misleading."
Before Trump made the "sarcasm" comment today, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany had released a damage-control statement that did not use that excuse. Instead she said, "Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines."
Another out CNN journalist, Don Lemon, has also been willing to call Trump out in no uncertain terms. This week he lambasted the president for touting chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which are used to treat other diseases, as treatments for COVID-19. A study recently showed that the drugs were ineffective against the virus and even caused a higher death rate. And last month an Arizona man died after taking a substance called chloroquine phosphate, used to clean fish tanks, mistakenly believing it was the same as the drug promoted by Trump. His wife, who also ingested the substance and became seriously ill, said the couple had seen Trump's televised comments recommending chloroquine.