Dem Rep Who Accused Trump of Pushing Misinformation Parrots Chinese Propaganda


A Democratic congressman who accused President Donald Trump of spreading misinformation about the coronavirus is under fire for repeating Chinese misinformation about the coronavirus himself during a virtual town hall in March.

Rep. Sean Casten of Illinois has called for the media to stop carrying the president’s coronavirus news briefings, saying on Twitter his “district office staff are fielding calls from small business owners who think something Trump said in a press conference is a law instead of a wish. Their hopes and livelihoods are being seesawed to salve this man-child’s ego.”

Casten also has claimed that Trump is responsible for the high death toll from the coronavirus because of his news briefings, which unfortunately isn’t an uncommon position these days.

A quick glance at the congressman’s Twitter jeremiads against the president during the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic reveals a common theme: He says Trump is deliberately misleading the unwary people of America, and it’s time for the defenders of truth and science (they all have Ds after their name in the newspaper stories) to set things straight.

Here’s a sample of Casten’s tweeting; this was part of a long thread I won’t embed here but you should check out if you have time. It’s a fascinating glimpse into how far down the rabbit hole a politician can become when he believes he has a monopoly on truth.

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The Washington Free Beacon’s description of the March 21 town hall, however, evinces a man who isn’t particularly concerned with the truth, at least when it comes to China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic when it was in its nascent stages.

Take, for instance, this answer when one questioner asked about China’s early response to coronavirus, per The Free Beacon:

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“China, to their credit, once they realize they had a problem, shut down the entire province that this was in and they seem to have largely isolated the cases in China,” he said. “We have missed that window in the United States.”

While Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located, was the epicenter of the disease in China, the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center’s data shows the claim that it didn’t spread throughout the country was false.

The map also relies on China’s data being accurate, as well — which is almost certainly not the case.

The death toll in Wuhan is reported to be 2,548 — yet, at just one of the eight funeral homes in the city, Chinese media outlet Caixin reported that 2,500 urns had been shipped in. Another photo showed 3,500 urns stacked on the ground at a funeral home. Families described waiting hours for the ashes of their loved ones. Previous reports said crematoriums in the city were working around the clock.

Some of these reports began emerging after Casten’s town hall, but it was widely known as of March 21 that China’s numbers were inaccurate. Beijing has lied at every step of the process — about the seriousness of the pandemic, about the possibility of human-to-human transmission and about the number of patients and victims. At what point did Casten think it was appropriate to take China’s claims at face value?

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Probably, one assumes, at the point where it became politically expedient for him to do so.

The town hall continued in this vein. When Casten was asked about China’s early response, he said that “viruses don’t know borders.”

“The best estimate is that it did move into people from the wet market of China,” Casten said. “But once that virus was out there, it’s sort of trivial that it came from China.”

It’s not trivial what China’s response was, though. After all, if you’re Sean Casten and you’re hammering the president for what you allege is misinformation, shouldn’t you be more critical of a country that did everything possible to pretend coronavirus didn’t exist and has repeatedly pretended their numbers are low? Shouldn’t you be taking China to task for arresting the whistleblower doctors who first alerted the world to coronavirus’ existence? Shouldn’t that factor into the equation?

If it weren’t for the pathological need of Xi Jinping’s regime to ensure stability at all costs, we arguably wouldn’t be in this position. In fact, a study from the University of Southampton found that 95 percent of cases could have been prevented if only China had acted earlier.

Casten also repeated the claim — sigh — that Trump had eliminated the National Security Council’s pandemic response team. This has been a popular untruth parroted by the likes of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The team, you might not be surprised to find, had been combined into another office by the Trump administration; most everyone retained their jobs and roles.

Casten didn’t respond when The Free Beacon reached out for comment.

There’s a certain strand of the Democratic Party that, during the coronavirus pandemic, has pretended to credulously believe every sunny statistic and optimistic claim that’s come out of the Chinese government.

This is because politics doesn’t grind to a halt the way restaurants or airlines do. For the kind of person who’s involved in digital town halls or pops up on CNN, business is still booming. They likely didn’t need the $1,200 stimulus check before this, but they definitely don’t need it now.

If a claim from the Chinese government hurts the president, his administration or anyone on the other side of the aisle, it’ll be retweeted, repackaged and repeated with an unbecoming glee.

China claims it got the virus under control in Wuhan with roughly 2,500 deaths, but we’re predicting 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the United States.

That makes the administration’s handling of the crisis look bad. Ergo, it sounds accurate enough to be a talking point for the next week.

If Casten is upset about misinformation, I’d give him this advice. We’re now spending most of our time in our domiciles. Most of us are lucky enough to have mirrors. Sean Casten, I urge you, go in the bathroom sometime. You’ll find one there, and perhaps you’ll know where you can start.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture