Late-night hosts unpack Trump's mind-boggling coronavirus confession tapes
Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers, and more respond to Trump's admission that he knew the severity of COVID-19 but downplayed it anyway.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
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The Daily Show host Trevor Noah doesn't know what to think of Donald Trump anymore. At first, he thought Trump was "too stupid to understand what was going on" with coronavirus. Now, after journalist Bob Woodward released audio recordings of his interviews with Trump wherein the president admitted to knowing the dangers of COVID-19 and purposefully down-playing its severity to the American people, Noah says Trump "was actually smart about it in private. But he’s also stupid enough to tell Bob Woodward on tape."
Noah wasn't the only one left boggled by recent developments. CNN and The Washington Post obtained copies of Woodward's new book Rage, which revealed these damning revelations. That alone is a lot to unpack. Noah, Late Night's Seth Meyers, The Tonight Show's Jimmy Fallon, and The Late Late Show's James Corden took to their late-night podiums to sift through it all, make jokes, and also question how someone like Woodward could hold onto this information for months until it was time to promote his new book.
"Imagine if Paul Revere had this attitude: 'Are the British coming? Find out by pre-ordering my book on Amazon,'" Noah joked.
Trump spoke with Woodward multiple times. In a February conversation, according to audio obtained by CNN, Trump knew COVID-19 was "more deadly than even your strenuous flues." In a separate March conversation, he said, “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.” This contradicts much of what he has been tweeting and telling the American public.
"Since when is Donald J. Trump concerned about creating a panic?” Noah questioned. “That is literally his favorite thing. ‘Cities are burning! Suburbs are collapsing! Caravans of Antifa Mexicans are committing Muslim voter fraud!’ His campaign’s slogan is basically, ‘Look out behind you!'"
Meyers also poked fun at that sentiment."This country has never been more chill," he said. "A lot of people aren't even moving. America's as cool as a cucumber right now. Sure, we're stealing toilet paper every time we go into a Starbucks, and Trader Joe's looks like the last scene in Apocalypse Now, but other than that it's all good baby."
"He straight up admitted that he wanted to play it down," Meyers continued. "Imagine if Bob Woodward's job was always this easy. It's like if Nixon walked up to him in 1973 and said, 'Hello, Bob. Did you know I did Watergate? This is a pretty good parking garage.'"
Fallon's monologue came with a mixture of serious incredulity at Trump's admissions, while trying to maintain the late-night fun. That's always been the struggle with comedy in the age of Trump: how do you make light of something when it's so severe?
At one point, Fallon called the Woodward tapes a "catastrophic story that threatens to ruin his presidency," while also joking, "up until then Trump thought 'deadly stuff' was a brand of Oreo."
He also struggled to comprehend how Trump knew in March that COVID-19 affected young people as well as the more vulnerable older populations, while also pushing schools to reopen. "He knew all that and still fought for schools to reopen?" Fallon said. "Even Vladimir Putin was like, 'Not cool, dude. Not cool."
Corden's beef is more with Woodward, he said on The Late Late Show Wednesday night."He had this information, he had the tape this whole time. Trump was out there saying, 'Don't worry, it'll go away,' he's holding rallies, and Bob Woodward was like, 'This is too good. I'm gonna save this for my book seven months from now.'"
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The Daily Show with Trevor Noah