Trump dodges tough questions on his health during rambling interview on Tucker Carlson's show
Donald Trump; Tucker Carlson
Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson Photo Illustration from Salon / Getty Images
Donald Trump's appearance on Tucker Carlson's Fox News Show, less than a week since the president returned from hospital over COVID-19, revealed very little about Trump's health or infectivity. Still, the president appears to have inadvertently dropped some clues about the severity of his condition during the long, tangential interview.
The interview on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" was conducted by Dr. Marc Siegel, a Fox News employee who has defended Trump's poor handling of the American coronavirus outbreak, compared the pandemic to the flu, and raised concerns about the neurological health of the time in 2016. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton never examined her personally.
Carlson initially set a hagiographic tone for the segment, describing Trump's alleged "remarkable turnaround" before Siegel was allowed to conduct the interview. The two weren't in the same room: Siegel was in a studio and Trump was in the White House and was filmed separately. The conversation between Trump and Siegel ranged from Trump, who blamed China for the virus and repeatedly mentioned Regeneron (a company that gave him an experimental drug and with whom he has personal relationships), to describing himself as "very strong." "as an offer to donate his plasma and claim that he has improved faster and better than others who have had COVID-19.
Despite these attempts to project that he was "male", Trump admitted that the disease had made him "tired", adding that "my life is a little bit energy based and I didn't have it". However, while downplaying his symptoms, Trump promised to freely give away the drugs he previously claimed were a "cure" for him. (Oddly enough, Trump was consistently against a universal health policy that could make such drugs free and accessible, despite being treated by the military health system compared to an exclusive form of universal health care).
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Trump also stated that this was "drug free". "I haven't taken any medication for eight hours," he said.
Trump also claimed that his Secret Service agents had nothing against his passing by at Walter Reed Hospital, which included close physical contact with the security detail. Some current and former intelligence agents interviewed by CNN were "frustrated" by Trump's publicity stunt. "We are not disposable," said one.
Trump declined to say if he had received a test for the virus today that could definitely tell if he had removed the virus from his system. "I've been tested again and haven't even found numbers or anything like that. I'm either down or free," said the president. Based on reports of infections, the CDC recommends that those who have had COVID-19 be away from other people for at least 10 days after their first symptoms appear and 24 hours after their fever has resolved without the use of "antipyretic drugs" .
Trump also denied having any of the mental symptoms often associated with dexamethasone, the steroid he uses to prevent his immune system from destroying his infected lungs.
"The interview provided little useful clinical information," wrote Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association (APHA) and former Maryland Secretary of Health, at Salon about the Siegel-Trump exchange. "The doctor interviewer asked superficial questions and President Trump did not provide specific answers. He admitted having received a CAT scan but we are not sure which part of the body. He also said he received a lung test but no specific insight In which test I suspect it was a breath test as he said they told him he could put on his jacket. He didn't seem out of breath, but he didn't strain during the interview. Basically no new information. "
An expert speaking with Salon said that the symptoms Trump himself described gave rise to concern about whether he might infect other people.
"Given the limited public data and the President's description of imaging results and tests tonight, we must assume that he has presented a serious case of COVID-19 as defined by the Center for Disease Control to Walter Reed Hospital. " Dr. Russell Medford, chairman of the Center for Global Health Innovation and the Coordination Center on Global Health Crises, shared Salon via email. "The CDC's own guidelines indicate that patients with severe illness can be infectious for up to 20 days after symptoms appear."
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He added, "In order to release the president earlier, the president's doctor should give the president the necessary assurances that the president is no longer contagious and consider releasing the key medical information in support of those assurances."
The Presidential Debate Commission canceled the second scheduled event between Trump and Biden on Friday after Trump refused to have a virtual debate that would prevent Trump from spreading the virus. While Biden had been ready to virtually discuss Trump, the president insisted that the two men meet in person. Since both Biden and Trump are men in their 70s, they are at greater risk of dying from COVID-19.
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