Back in February, White House National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow announced that the coronavirus was “contained.” In fact, it was “pretty close to airtight,” he claimed.
Two months later and, well, let’s just say it didn’t play out that way.
CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday showed the clip to Kudlow, asking him, “is there a disconnect between what people such as you who want things to be better than they are, so as to help the economy, are saying, and what people in the health field are saying?”
Kudlow was clearly peeved.
“For the umpteenth time I will say, my quote then was based on the actual facts which at the time there were only 40 or 50 cases and it was contained,” he said, touting the same refrain his boss has often repeated, that the travel restrictions “boldly” placed on China made a huge difference.
“I don’t want to get in and play this game, who said what and when,” Kudlow added. “My quote was at that time, there were very few cases. Then, as the virus spread exponentially in ways that virtually no one could have predicted, of course we changed our mind.”
Tapper could only shake his head at that point. “I could respond with 15 minutes’ worth of stuff,” he added before moving on to an interview with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Here’s the exchange:
CNN, after the interview, took exception with Kudlow standing by his call, citing several experts who, at the time, said the virus was obviously nowhere near contained.
March Lipsitch, Harvard epidemiology professor and director of the university’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, for instance, said what he was seeing at the time showed no evidence of supporting Kudlow’s claim. “In the U.S. it is the opposite of contained,” he said. “It is spreading so efficiently in so many places that it may be difficult to stop.”
Kudlow began trending on Twitter after his appearance, and mostly not in a good way:
Aside from the clip that made a splash across social media, Kudlow also talked about the possibility of another round of economic stimulus. “There may well be additional legislation. There’s kind of a pause period right now,” Kudlow he told Tapper, adding that the White House will monitor “how it’s doing,” as the country starts to slowly get back to business.
“Next year could be one of the fastest growth rebounds in American history or recent history,” he said, striking an optimistic chord for 2021. “We’re trying to get from, you know, from one side to the other… I don’t want to rule in or out anything right now.”