News & Politics

More Fake News: Poison Control Centers Are Not Reporting a 'Spike' in Calls Because of Trump

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 22, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Donald Trump’s aides are pleading with him to step back from the coronavirus briefings, largely because he is opening huge gaping holes that his opponents have been gleefully driving through.

Trump didn’t recommend injecting yourself with disinfectant or bleach. But his actual response was so convoluted and inartful, that it could easily be read that way — as long as you took it out of context.

That, his enemies in the media were more than happy to do.

“And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?” Trump said. “So it’d be interesting to check that.”

It’s easy to see how an opponent could twist that into Trump recommending people inject themselves with disinfectant.

Naturally, the next step in developing the narrative is to “prove” that the American people are following Trump’s recommendation and ingesting disinfectant. Sure enough, the New York Daily News headlined a piece “A spike in New Yorkers ingesting household cleaners following Trump’s controversial coronavirus comments.”

An unusually high number of New Yorkers contacted city health authorities over fears that they had ingested bleach or other household cleaners in the 18 hours that followed President Trump’s bogus claim that injecting such products could cure coronavirus, the Daily News has learned.

The Poison Control Center, a subagency of the city’s Health Department, managed a total of 30 cases of possible exposure to disinfectants between 9 p.m. Thursday and 3 p.m. Friday, a spokesman said.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown of Reason.com took on the thankless task of revealing the incredible bias of the story.

Fearing that you ingested something doesn’t jibe with having intentionally consumed that substance.

The authors of the Daily News piece, Anna Sanders and Chris Sommerfeldt, try to circumvent this inconvenient fact by noting that over the same time period in 2019, the Poison Control Center “only handled 13 similar cases.” And while this time, nine calls were about possible Lysol exposure and ten about bleach, last year’s calls contained “no cases reported about Lysol exposure and only two were specifically in regards to bleach.”

But couldn’t a more rational explanation for the Lysol and bleach calls be that we’re in the middle of a pandemic and people are using those products much more than before?

The paper doesn’t present any other data about calls to Poison Control for comparison. But one needn’t do a detailed analysis to surmise why exposure to things like Lysol and bleach—and fears about this exposure—might be up this month over April 2019. And one needn’t reach for the ridiculous explanation that it’s because people deliberately consumed it en masse after listening to Trump. We are in the midst of a pandemic right now and we were not in April 2019. Of course more people are being exposed to household disinfectants at the moment than were during this time last year.

The Daily News does note that none of the callers died or required hospitalization, which also suggests their exposure was minimal and not of the Lysol-mouthwash variety.

Precisely. Ingesting bleach would have the poor sot calling 911 and probably not the Poison Control Center — if they could call at all.

Trump says he was just playing a “prank” on reporters with the disinfectant injection comment. Some joke. As it is, White House aides who can see how the president is exposing himself to his enemies are urging him to dial it back a bit and perhaps let someone else take the lead.

That won’t happen and that’s a mistake. Trump is not as well informed as he should be. Whether that’s a staff problem or a personal failing isn’t clear. His off-the-cuff, sometimes off-the-wall comments are going to be appearing in Biden campaign commercials. Biden is already running ads saying Trump’s response is killing people. What do you think he’s going to do with this?