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Pop quiz: Can you see through Trump's invented reality?

We made a whole podcast about how this election is going to work. It’s even more complicated than you think. The first episode of the Election 101 podcast is about voter registration, which is where the process starts — but there’s a dirty history of people being denied the right to register in this country. This is a really worthwhile adventure from Kristen Holmes and CNN Audio, and you’re going to learn a lot about our weird election system. Listen here.





© MANDEL NGAN/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
US President Donald Trump addresses supporters during a campaign rally at MBS International Airport in Freeland, Michigan on September 10, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

And we’ve also launched an Election 101 hub as a one-stop shop for figuring out US democracy, including how and when to vote in your state.

Here’s a pop quiz on reality

I’m going to list a series of quotes — two or three on several subjects — and I’d like you to try to determine who said each one.

Hint: Each subject has a comment uttered within the past week by a top government official appointed by President Donald Trump.

They’re listed alongside something Trump said during a town hall broadcast by ABC News on Tuesday night. The event was notable since it’s a very rare foray for the President outside of his Fox News-insulated zone.

And the things he said to disaffected former supporters and people with pre-existing conditions, were difficult to square with reality. CNN’s Daniel Dale did a full fact check and called the President’s comments a “fire hose of lying.”

Spoiler alert: The point here is that Trump either offers an extremely rosy version of reality, is completely wrapped in a bubble, or is lying about what he knows.

Note: I’ve preceded each quote with a short paraphrase. The words actually spoken are between quotation marks.

1. When will a Covid vaccine be ready?

The options are:

  • Trump at an ABC News town hall Tuesday night
  • CDC Director Robert Redfield testifying on Capitol Hill Wednesday

Here’s what these two men have said about vaccines in the past 48 hours:

It’s only a matter of weeks!

“If you want to know the truth, the previous administration would have taken perhaps years to have a vaccine because of the FDA and all the approvals, and we’re within weeks of getting it.”

It’s going to be a long time before most people can get vaccinated.

“If you’re asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public, so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we’re probably looking at third, late second quarter, third quarter 2021.”

2. Should I wear a face mask?

The options here are, again:

Here’s what these two men have separately said about face masks in the past 48 hours:

Up to you.

“The concept of a mask is good, but it also does…you’re constantly touching it, you’re touching your face, you’re touching plates. There are people that don’t think masks are good.”

Wear them!

“I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine, because the immunogenicity may be 70%.”

3. What can you do to help the economy?

The options this time are:

  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell

The economy is going great.

“When you look at what’s going on in the country and all that we’ve done, we unfortunately got hit by this plague, but it’s going to be back very soon. We opened it up… We’re going to have a great economy next year, and I think we’re going to have a great economy in the third quarter.”

You can wear a mask and social distance to save the economy.

“All of us have a role to play in our nation’s response to the pandemic. Following the advice of the public health professionals, to keep appropriate social distances and to wear masks in public will help get the economy back to full strength. A full economic recovery is unlikely until people are confident that it is safe to reengage in a broad range of activities.”

4. How much should the US be testing for Covid?

The options here are:

We’re testing too much.

“We have 20% of the cases because of the fact that we do much more testing. If we wouldn’t do testing, you wouldn’t have cases. You would have very few cases.”

We need more tests.

“We are not recommending less tests. I do believe more tests ultimately are going to lead to less cases in this country because it’s going to allow public health action to happen.”

5. Has the US solved its Covid problem?

The options here are:

  • Brett Giroir, the Health and Human Services official in charge of testing

We’re on the down side of the infection curve.

“I really believe we’re rounding the corner, and I believe that strongly.”

We could lose all of our gains in an instant.

“Let me say emphatically that these gains could be fleeting or even reversed if we do not continue to follow the national plan and exercise personal responsibility, especially wearing masks and avoiding crowds.”

6. Should people with preexisting conditions have access to health insurance?

The options here are:

  • Solicitor General Noel Francisco, arguing before the Supreme Court (This one is from June of this year, not the past 24 hours, but still.)

Of course we’ll protect coverage of pre-existing conditions.

“We are not going to hurt anything having to do with preexisting conditions. We’re not going to hurt preexisting conditions. And, in fact, just the opposite.”

The administration is actively trying to end Obamacare without a plan to replace it.

“Nothing the 2017 Congress did demonstrates it would have intended the rest of the ACA to continue to operate in the absence of these three integral provisions. The entire ACA thus must fall with the individual mandate.”

7. Does Trump have a health care plan?

The options here are:

  • White House chief of staff Mark Meadows

Yes there’s a plan to replace Obamacare, a massive law passed by Congress.

“I have it all ready. I have it all ready.”

There is a plan, but not for a replacement law.

“We’ve had to get very, very creative with executive powers to try to figure out what we can do to substantially affect the health care costs and bring it down through executive action.”

If there is a plan, I haven’t heard of it.

“I’m not involved in the replacement plan. I don’t know what that is. I supply public health advice as much as I can for whatever that plan would be.”

Answers!

Trump is the first one every time, and you’ll notice he’s always diametrically opposed to what his own experts are saying.

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