Always the salesman, Trump touts products and promises at coronavirus briefings

Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- As the cameras rolled in the Rose Garden, President Donald Trump walked from the White House podium to a nearby table for the dramatic unveiling of a new and improved product, one supposedly able to deliver faster, better results.

As the head of the Food and Drug Administration extolled the coronavirus testing kit, Trump opened a black and white box, pulled out the device and held it up for viewers to see on Monday, like a scene from a Home Shopping Network show.

After decades of slapping his name on skyscrapers, steaks, bottled water and silk ties, Trump remains a salesman at heart, and he's used his daily pandemic briefings at times to push new products, promote unproven remedies and make hollow or exaggerated promises.

"Trump is most comfortable when he's selling," said Michael D'Antonio, who wrote a biography of Trump. "And when he doesn't have something to sell, he sells himself. And that's really the product that he always sells."

And while he has praised some of the medical experts around him, Trump has more frequently shown disdain for scientists and specialists, whether it involves global warming or nuclear diplomacy.

"He's more comfortable around salesmen than he is around scientists and physicians," D'Antonio said. "He doesn't understand this idea of seeking honest data so you can get your arms around a problem that's difficult."


Trump has promised a "very advanced" vaccine in "record time," for example. Although a crash program has found potential candidates, experts say necessary testing, dosing and production of a new vaccine will take at least a year.

He has announced "tremendous progress" on a nationwide website for coronavirus testing even though the website remained a pilot project in the San Francisco Bay Area.

And the president has touted drug regimens to treat coronavirus patients, saying they "could be a tremendous breakthrough," even though they have not gone through approved clinical trials to ensure they are effective.

The drugs, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, are normally prescribed as a prophylaxis or treatment for malaria and lupus, and some doctors fear the president's endorsement will lead to shortages for patients who rely on them.


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