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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney refused to take responsibility for the Trump administration's response to the COVID-19 disease and crafted a new conspiracy theory that the news coverage on the novel coronavirus is merely a media-driven plot to take down Donald Trump.

"They think this will bring down the president," Mulvaney said at the Conservative Political Action Conference, regarding news reporting of the COVID-19 disease. "That's what it's all about."

The new coronavirus and its potential spread have caused panic among investors, who fear the disease could have lasting impacts on the economy.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 1,200 points, the worst one-day drop in history. As of the time this article was published Friday, the Dow fell another 1,190 points, dropping another 4.4 percent.

In all, stocks are set to have their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis, according to the Wall Street Journal.

When asked how the administration could calm the markets, Mulvaney again blamed the media — the go-to strategy Trump and his aides employ when faced with criticism over their policies.

"What I might do to calm the markets is turn the television off for 24 hours," Mulvaney said.

"This is not Ebola. It's not SARS."

While Trump and his appointed officials are trying to calm fears, experts within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning of community spread of COVID-19 disease, saying cities should plan to implement "social distancing measures," including closing schools and asking businesses to have employees work from home.

Because Trump fears the impact the COVID-19 disease may have on his reelection hopes, he's trying to control the amount of information that gets to the public on the disease, putting Mike Pence solely in charge of the communications response.

Pence, for his part, has a checkered record on public health crises, overseeing the worst outbreak of HIV in Indiana when he served as state governor.

And in even worse news for the administration, a whistleblower came forward to say that public health workers in the federal government are not well trained or properly equipped to deal with the disease, saying workers were "improperly deployed" to military bases where people infected with the disease are being quarantined.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.c