Stephen Colbert explains Trump’s whiplash on the coronavirus task force

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (Photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS ©2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (Photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS ©2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Stephen Colbert on why President Donald Trump changed his mind to support the coronavirus task force.

Whether the pandemic has made it easier or harder to get inside President Donald Trump’s mind is difficult to say. It hasn’t stopped Stephen Colbert from trying, though. Wednesday night’s monologue on The Late Show tried to figure out the president’s changing stance on the coronavirus task force.

The need for the task force, led by Vice President Mike Pence, would seem to be disappearing if President Trump’s plan to reopen the country as soon as possible was in effect. But statistics, models, and input from medical experts all preach caution when it comes to ending social distancing. Still, the president announced that the task force would be coming to an end with the focus placed on restarting the economy.

Not surprisingly, a series of tweets from the president reversed course on that announcement. President Trump instead revealed that the task force would continue indefinitely. It wasn’t the first time the White House changed its mind seemingly on the fly.

A combination of President Trump’s own comments and Stephen Colbert’s years of studying the man helped the Late Show host explain the motivation behind the decision. And according to Colbert, anyone who thinks it was with the public’s safety in mind is sorely mistaken.

It is all about popularity and ratings. Whether it is the ratings for his COVID-19 press briefings or the ratings for late night television, President Trump puts more stock into them than a television executive. The “popularity” of the task force was enough to convince President Trump to keep it together, like a showrunner deciding not to get rid of a beloved character.

Stephen Colbert hints that it is the personalities and values of task force members like Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx that make the team so respected. And for the comedian, it’s no coincidence that they stand in stark contrast to the demeanor and awareness of President Trump on the issue.

The task force consists of people who want to protect Americans and minimize the loss of life. Colbert calls President Trump’s approach “death-positive” and willing to risk more lives in order to boost the economy ahead of the election. This plan is popular among the president’s supporters but hasn’t reached “task force level” popularity with a majority of the country.

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Stephen Colbert argues that President Donald Trump is keeping the task force around for public relations reasons. Americans trust the experts on the team and will tune in to listen, meaning the president will have a captive audience whenever he wants. Just don’t expect him to have the best intentions in mind, warns Colbert. For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.