(Robin Wright/ The New Yorker) — At a White House press briefing on Friday, Peter Alexander, a correspondent for NBC News, asked President Trump about the psychological toll of the covid-19 crisis: “Nearly two hundred dead, fourteen thousand who are sick, millions, as you witnessed, who are scared,” Alexander said. “What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?”
Trump shot back, “I say that you’re a terrible reporter, that’s what I say. I think it’s a very nasty question, and I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people.”
For weeks, the President seemed oblivious to the scope of the coronavirus threat; now he seems heartless about the spiralling anxiety among Americans and ignorant about the physiology of fear, after a week unprecedented in American history, during which much of the country has closed down, the economy has ground to a halt, and millions have been told to stay home. Since last week, state officials have ordered one in three Americans—living in New York, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan, and Massachusetts—to remain indoors.
For many of the rest of us, normal life has been suspended as the tally of cases soars. It all feels eerily apocalyptic—and, for most, scary. (…)