President Trump complained about the news media’s intensive coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at a campaign rally in Gastonia, N.C., on Wednesday evening, describing the disease as an annoying inconvenience even as the country’s case count and death toll continue to soar.
Attacking two television networks, CNN and MSNBC, with barbed epithets, Mr. Trump insisted for the second night in a row, “That pandemic is rounding the corner. They hate it when I say it.”
“All you hear is Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid,” Mr. Trump said, repeating the word 11 times. “That’s all they put on, because they want to scare the hell out of everyone.”
Mr. Trump’s lament about television news followed a familiar line in his recent speeches, defiantly insisting despite all evidence that the coronavirus is rapidly disappearing as an issue. It is not a perspective shared by most voters: A national poll published Monday by The New York Times found that 51 percent of likely voters believed the worst of the pandemic was yet to come, compared with 37 percent who said the worst was over.
And that was not the full extent of Mr. Trump’s dissembling on the pandemic. He repeated a familiar — and false — line claiming that the country appears to have so many cases only because there is so much testing, and telling supporters that his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., was seeking to “prolong the pandemic” and “shut down your country,” even though the former vice president has presented a public-health agenda aimed at doing the opposite.
The president also continued taunting Democratic governors who have imposed restrictions on gatherings and commercial activity to counter the spread of the virus, including Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, a Democrat seeking re-election whose popularity has risen in response to his handling of the pandemic.
“You got to get your governor to open up your state here,” Mr. Trump said, prodding Mr. Cooper. “Open up your state, governor. It’s time.”