Now What?

OK, we admit it. We were addicted to Trump. But now that he’s fled the scene, we find ourselves looking for a new “drug.” It’s not an easy addiction to overcome. We take some comfort in knowing he won’t disappear entirely from the news. With his impeachment trial scheduled to commence soon, we’ll at least have a few more weeks to focus on the former president.

This weekend, as we weaned ourselves from near-constant coverage, we watched an excellent four-part documentary on how The New York Times handled the first years of Trump’s presidency. The film highlighted the tenacious journalists who struggled to report in an increasingly hostile environment, all with an undying devotion to the public’s right to know.

Then we watched Margaret Brennan’s stunning interview with Dr. Deborah Birx on Sunday’s “Face the Nation,” as the former coronavirus response coordinator pulled back the curtain on the dysfunction in the White House. Her recollections confirmed what many people long suspected. She had considered resigning from the task force but remained because she thought she could do some good. Some in the White House believed the coronavirus was a hoax and so didn’t take it seriously. Someone was delivering a parallel set of data to the president that was then developed into charts and graphs she had never even seen. She often traveled around the country to speak directly to state governors, telling them to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Most interesting was her reference to an April press briefing during which the president suggested that people should consider an injection of disinfectant to fight the coronavirus. When asked about that moment Dr. Birx said that she was actually saying “not a treatment” in response to the president’s questions. She also asserted that she wasn’t given a chance to set the record straight before being asked about it.

Sadly, Dr. Birx acknowledged that her 40-year career in public service is toast. She has become yet another casualty of the infectious disease known as the Trump Administration. We’re glad the circus has left town. But now what will we do to overcome our addiction?