The editor in chief of Science magazine, one of the world’s leading academic journals, published a harsh denunciation of President Donald Trump on Friday, laying into him for lying to the American people and demoralizing the scientific community about the deadliness of COVID-19.
In his editorial for Science, which has been in publication since 1880, Herbert Holden Thorp addressed Trump’s admission that he intentionally downplayed the coronavirus to journalist Bob Woodward, as revealed in Woodward’s upcoming book, “Rage.”
“We can hear Trump’s own voice saying that he understood precisely that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 … was deadly and spread through the air,” Thorp wrote. “As he was playing down the virus to the public, Trump was not confused or inadequately briefed: He flat-out lied, repeatedly, about science to the American people. These lies demoralized the scientific community and cost countless lives in the United States.”
Thorp argued that Trump’s comments to Woodward demonstrated that he clearly understood the lethal, airborne nature of COVID-19, as well as the virus’s ability to affect both young and old.
In public, however, Trump compared it to the common flu, pushed to reopen schools and accused Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., as “a little bit of an alarmist.” Fauci recently said that he was “depressed” at America’s inability to control the virus.
Since his conversations with Woodward went public, Trump has claimed that these efforts were intended to prevent panic among the general public.
Trump referred to himself as an “environmentalist” at a recent rally, but his administration has routinely downplayed science. Trump handwaved climate change and worked to roll back nearly 100 Obama-era regulations intended to limit pollution.
Thorp alluded to such attitudes and said that Trump’s actions regarding the coronavirus hit a new low.
“Over the years, [Science] has commented on the scientific foibles of U.S. presidents,” Thorp said. “Inadequate action on climate change and environmental degradation during both Republican and Democratic administrations [has] been criticized frequently. … But now, a U.S. president has deliberately lied about science in a way that was imminently dangerous to human health and directly led to widespread deaths of Americans. This may be the most shameful moment in the history of U.S. science policy.”
HuffPost reached out to the White House for comment on this story.