James O'Brien's reaction to President Trump testing positive for coronavirus

2 October 2020, 13:19 | Updated: 2 October 2020, 15:11

By Fiona Jones

This was James O'Brien's reaction after Donald Trump confirmed he and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for Covid-19.

The US President said he and the First Lady would begin their "quarantine and recovery process immediately" following the diagnosis.

At 74, Trump is at higher risk of serious complications from the virus, although a statement from the White House said both he and the First Lady are "well at this time".

James O'Brien observed that before this morning's papers had this new knowledge, a Cornell University study analysed 38 million articles and found that Donald Trump is the single largest driver of misinformation about coronavirus.

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Donald Trump has "consciously misled the world about the dangers or even the existence of this virus" and now he has contracted it, James said, and clarified that while he would never wish ill of anyone, there is a sense of "Schadenfreude" that can be found.

James branded it "shocking but not surprising" because it is "simply the latest stage in a succession of utterly subversive attitudes to our values."

"So the man in charge of the most powerful country in the world has done more than anybody else on this planet to spread misinformation about the coronavirus," James said, "even leaving aside the self-confessed sex offences, the massive racism, the support for white supremacism...that single fact there is arguably the biggest and most significant."

James reflected that for the UK, "we're cursed in this country with a leader who has been weak and incompetent, dishonest and disreputable but I don't think anybody, even his harshest critics could accuse Boris Johnson of actually spreading misinformation about this virus."

He reflected that putting the possibility of herd immunity into the public ether back in March was "deeply irresponsible and dangerous, but it wasn't misinformation just misdirection."

In tribal, binary politics, James reflected, if you liked Trump you will still like him today despite him spreading misinformation about the virus he has caught.

"The most egregious offender on this planet...who has done more to drive misinformation about a fatal pandemic is the most powerful man on the planet."

James continued that when historians look back they will see these milestones and "marvel" at them, and not be able to make sense of it.

"You will conclude that we must have been bewitched, we must have been hypnotised as a population, we must have been almost a different species," James said.

He reflected that at 28, his date of birth was further away than his date of birth was to the Holocaust was from his date of birth and he still thought of it as "something awful that was done by people that were nothing like you and me."

"The death toll for coronavirus now dwarfs most wars, if not every war, and when historians of the future come to unpick how it was handled so appallingly, this single fact here might be the biggest," James said, yet, President Trump has still been the single largest driver of misinformation according to a study.

"He was allowed to get away with it because people who were given a license to be racist, bigoted, hate-filled in public after years of being made to feel ashamed about their own secret hearts, people who were given license to be disgusting would forgive him anything even as their own families die," he said.