Amy Goodman

“Break ’em up”: As DOJ targets Google, Zephyr Teachout urges breakup of more big tech monopolies

The Department of Justice and 11 states have filed a major antitrust lawsuit against Google in a move that could lead to the breakup of the company's business and holds major implications for other tech giants. The lawsuit accuses Google of engaging in illegal practices to maintain a monopoly on the search market, which fuels its dominance in online advertising. Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout, who has long advocated for breaking up Big Tech monopolies, says it's "an incredibly important lawsuit" that should be the start of a wave of legal and legislative action to tackle "this incredible democratic crisis we have of Big Tech really becoming a form of private, for-profit government that is taking over so many parts of our lives."


AMY GOODMAN: The Department of Justice has sued the internet giant Google in a massive antitrust lawsuit that will have major implications for the rest of Big Tech and may even lead to Google's breakup. Eleven states joined the lawsuit, the largest of its kind against a tech company in more than two decades. It accuses Google of engaging in illegal practices to maintain a monopoly on the market, including by spending billions of dollars each year on deals with Apple and other companies to appear as the default search engine on handheld devices and browsing services. Through these practices, Google, quote, "owns or controls search distribution channels accounting for roughly 80 percent of the general search queries in the United States," according to the Department of Justice.

The DOJ complaint reads, in part, quote, "The Google of today is a monopoly gatekeeper for the internet, and one of the wealthiest companies on the planet … Google has used anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising — the cornerstones of its empire," unquote.

The complaint continues, quote, "Absent a court order, Google will continue executing its anticompetitive strategy, crippling the competitive process, reducing consumer choice, and stifling innovation," unquote.

For more, we're joined by Zephyr Teachout, professor of law at Fordham University and author of the new book Break 'Em Up: Recovering Our Freedom from Big Ag, Big Tech, and Big Money. Earlier this month, Professor Teachout testified at the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Judiciary Committee investigation into competition in digital markets.

Zephyr Teachout, welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you talk about the significance of this lawsuit and what it means?

ZEPHYR TEACHOUT: Thank you for having me.

It is an incredibly important lawsuit, and it is clearly just the beginning of what should be a series of both lawsuits at the federal and state level — keep your eyes on the states — and legislation to deal with this incredible democratic crisis we have of Big Tech really becoming a form of private, for-profit government that is taking over so many parts of our lives.

As you mentioned, it has been decades since we have seen a antitrust case of this kind, not just against Big Tech, but in general. The last big one, of course, was Microsoft. And as most people understand, the case against Microsoft was actually essential in leading to the innovations that followed in Silicon Valley.

But in the last 10, 15 years, you've seen these Big Tech giants consolidating power and then protecting their power through illegal means. And what this complaint lays out is now years and years of illegal practices of Google coming to not just dominate, but then illegally protect its monopoly in this area. And just being a person in the world, you know what a monopoly Google is, that search is an essential part of all of our lives. It's an essential gateway through which everybody has to pass.

And, I mean, this suit comes right after the major report by Cicilline, the House Antitrust Subcommittee report, which really took pretty direct aim at enforcers for their pathetic failure to do their job with existing antitrust laws, and called for Congress to act because of the nature of the democratic crisis we face.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Zephyr Teachout, I wanted to ask you about some of the revelations in the complaint, specifically the close ties between some of these tech giants, like Google and Apple, that — because, on one hand, Google is arguing that the default — that its use of its search as a default on Apple equipment is not a big deal because the user can switch it. But at the same time, it was revealed that spending $8 billion to $12 billion — paying Apple $8 billion to $12 billion a year just to have Google's search be the default on all Apple equipment?

ZEPHYR TEACHOUT: Yeah. No, this is a really important revelation. I mean, there's some aspects of this lawsuit where those of us who have been watching this field are saying this suit should have been brought a long time ago. A lot of Google's behavior is really obvious. It's obvious there's a monopoly, and it's obvious that it's been using its power to maintain its monopoly, using its contractual power to do so.

Looking at the relationship with Apple is really important, because here you have Google paying Apple. And I think it helps just clarify something that I argued in my book, which is that we are dealing with something akin to Mafia power, where you have a handful of big companies that theoretically compete, but they're also supporting each other in growing their power, and they are effectively competing against democracy. It's an alternate form of governance. And so, here you have Apple getting rich off of Google maintaining its monopoly. And what I think this points to is the importance of people understanding that this suit only is the beginning and has to only be the beginning.

The Antitrust Subcommittee, Cicilline's investigations, was absolutely revelatory. And this was a House committee with five staffers going up against these four Big Tech firms. And we learned about self-dealing behavior on Amazon's part, the way that Apple operates. And we have enforcers who have just been sitting on the sidelines for decades, kind of acting as if there's something magical about tech, that we — they're acting in two ways. One is that there's something magical about tech, that if we actually enforce basic laws, then you can't have nice things — tech will go away. In fact, all of history suggests the opposite, that antitrust is essential for innovation. And this is something the suit talks about. But it also shows just how deeply both, honestly, Democrats and Republicans have bought into this really dangerous idea that we don't have an anti-monopoly problem unless you can precisely point to consumer prices going up.

But I want to talk about the harm here, because I think it's really important to understand how this relates to the moment we're living in.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I wanted to ask —

ZEPHYR TEACHOUT: And I — go ahead.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you, though, in terms of this issue of Democrats and Republicans, could you comment about the decision of Attorney General William Barr to bring this lawsuit just before the elections? Apparently, many of the lawyers who were working on this case felt that they were not yet ready, but for some reason the attorney general moved forward. And also, that there was an investigation of Google back during the Obama years, where, apparently, some Obama-era justice officials felt that they should be moving forward on antitrust, but that didn't happen back then. Could you talk about how the Republican administration is dealing with it, Trump administration now, and how Obama dealt with it several years back?

ZEPHYR TEACHOUT: I mean, we had a real revolving door problem with Obama and Google, in particular, and a failure during the Obama years to bring antitrust cases, to be aggressive enforcers. And this is one of the things the Cicilline report really lays out, is this decades of nonenforcement.

I do think it's important — look, Barr should be impeached. He should have been impeached a while ago. He is lawless. He has undermined the rule of law. And I have been regularly calling for his impeachment and have zero respect there.

But this is a pretty narrow, slam-dunk case. And I would be wary of understanding it in partisan terms. I want to point to the statement of Attorney General Tish James yesterday, a very powerful statement, which is clear that they are going forward with a Google investigation. And I'll actually be really interested to see if they even expand it beyond what — this kind of pretty narrow, but pretty central claim.

I also want to say something that Amy mentioned that is really important to understand about this case. When we're talking about remedies, what do you do when you have a search engine which has become basically public infrastructure, but it's profit-seeking, data-mining, privacy-destroying, small-business-crushing public infrastructure? What do you do? Well, the legal recourse we have under current law is to break it up. And that is not off the table in this suit. In fact, structural remedies — when you see structural remedies, that's code for breaking up — is mentioned in the lawsuit.

But one of the things this moment then — this lawsuit does is, while it's going forward, it pushes the ball back to Congress, because we may decide, you know, we want to have a search engine that we all share; we just shouldn't have it be profit-seeking, nontransparent, self-serving. We might want to then move to a public utility model, where you can have a search engine, but the search engine doesn't rely on targeted ads and the sucking up of individual personal and, by the way, political data in the way that it currently does. So this lawsuit sort of squarely puts Congress in the position to say, "What kind of public communications infrastructure do we want to have?"

AMY GOODMAN: Zephyr Teachout, senior vice president of Google affairs, Kent Walker, responded to the lawsuit in an article titled "A deeply flawed lawsuit that would do nothing to help consumers." In it, Walker writes, "People use Google because they choose to, not because they're forced to, or because they can't find alternatives. This lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers. To the contrary, it would artificially prop up lower-quality search alternatives, raise phone prices, and make it harder for people to get the search services they want to use." If you could respond to this and follow through on the earlier point you wanted to make about the real-life harms that are done here?

ZEPHYR TEACHOUT: Yeah, yeah. I mean, look, this is — it's not a surprising press release. It's the same thing that Microsoft said in '98. It's basically what Standard Oil was saying. "Look, people are choosing us — even though we are forcing our product on those with whom we contract with."

But I do want to talk about the real-life harms. What the complaint talks about is the harms to innovation — and that's quite real — and the harms to privacy. So, if you have — right now if you are angry about how Google is gathering up your data, if you're angry about the way that Google is — basically, it's an ad company; we call it a search company, but it makes its money through the targeted ad business model — the recourse is to go beg Google to be better. And we know how well that goes. So, when you actually have a competitive market, with DuckDuckGo, which is — or Bing or Yahoo actually competing on grounds of saying, "Hey, we're going to protect your privacy better. We're going to do search in a way that isn't self-serving, isn't based on targeted ads," you actually lead to both more innovation and better consumer protection.

The direct harm that the complaint doesn't talk about, though, is that because of Google's monopoly, it charges an enormous amount, outrageous amounts, to people who need to advertise on it. And that's when we're thinking about the small businesses who are currently struggling right now. And so those small businesses then, having to pay more just to get seen, to get known, push that cost onto their workers. And there's recent research showing that — the ways in which monopoly power is a major driver of inequality. And that's something that isn't in the suit but we need to understand, is when you have monopoly chokepoints at the center of our economy, they use that power to go suck value out of businesses, who then turn around and push that harm onto workers.

Meet the college senior who built a White House COVID tracker after CDC blocked from tracing Trump’s contacts

As the number of people in President Trump's orbit who test positive for COVID-19 continues to grow, we meet a student journalist who is doing what the White House doesn't want the CDC to do: tracing the contacts of people who may have infected or been infected by President Trump. Benjy Renton, a Middlebury College senior, helped develop a real-time tracking tool to monitor the growing number of people in President Trump's circle who were exposed or infected with COVID-19. The site is called COVID-19 at the White House and lists over 270 contacts and 25 positive cases, so far. It uses "publicly available information to ensure the American public have access and have the transparency that they deserve," says Renton.

Meet the College Senior Who Built a COVID Tracker After CDC Blocked from Tracing Trump’s Contacts



As the number of people in President Trump’s orbit who test positive for COVID-19 continues to grow, we meet a student journalist who is doing what the White House doesn’t want the CDC to do: tracing the contacts of people who may have infected or been infected by President Trump. Benjy Renton, a Middlebury College senior, helped develop a real-time tracking tool to monitor the growing number of people in President Trump’s circle who were exposed or infected with COVID-19. The site is called COVID-19 at the White House and lists over 270 contacts and 25 positive cases, so far. It uses “publicly available information to ensure the American public have access and have the transparency that they deserve,” says Renton.

As the number of people in President Trump’s orbit who test positive for COVID-19 continues to grow, we meet a student journalist who is doing what the White House doesn’t want the CDC to do: tracing the contacts of people who may have infected or been infected by President Trump. Benjy Renton, a Middlebury College senior, helped develop a real-time tracking tool to monitor the growing number of people in President Trump’s circle who were exposed or infected with COVID-19. The site is called COVID-19 at the White House and lists over 270 contacts and 25 positive cases, so far. It uses “publicly available information to ensure the American public have access and have the transparency that they deserve,” says Renton.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! The Quarantine Report. I'm Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

As the number of people in President Trump's orbit who test positive for COVID-19 continues to grow, we're joined now by a student journalist who's doing what the White House does not want the Centers for Disease Control to do: tracing the contacts of people who may have infected or been infected by President Trump. Benjy Renton is a Middlebury College senior who helped develop a real-time tracking tool called COVID-19 at the White House. Benjy is also the digital director for Middlebury College's school newspaper.

Benjy, we welcome you to Democracy Now! Your website now shows 277 contacts, with 25 positive cases and a list of people you know to have come in contact with Donald Trump and others through him. Can you explain who's on the list, how you were able to come up with this, with a group of people?

BENJY RENTON: Yeah. Amy, thank you so much for having me.

So, we've been able to essentially track the contacts of anyone who's come in contact with the president or Hope Hicks or any of the individuals who have tested positive. As you said, we've had 277 contacts that we've been able to track so far, 25 of those who are positive, including Trump's campaign manager Bill Stepien, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, two of her assistant press secretaries, first lady Melania Trump, Notre Dame president John Jenkins.

So, we're still trying to understand the scope of the spread of this outbreak and sort of what events really led to the viral transmission. But we've determined that the spread is particularly alarming in and around the White House.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And you've included in your contact tracking map a variety of events: the Rose Garden event, where Trump's Supreme Court nominee was officially announced, on Saturday, September 26th; the presidential debate last Tuesday; the president's rally in Duluth, Minnesota, on Wednesday; and his fundraiser at his golf club in Bedminster on Thursday evening. Talk about the map, how you put it together, and how you're getting this information.

BENJY RENTON: Sure. So, we were able to essentially use public reports, pictures, flight manifests, as well as we have our own tip line where individuals can fill out any sort of tips or results that they want us to investigate.

And so, we've looked essentially at any events or any settings that the president may have come in contact with. And that goes, as you said, to the Supreme Court nominee event in the Rose Garden, which also there was also an indoor event that was just before the ceremony, which potentially contributed to viral spread, and that was a smaller-scale event but indoors with a larger risk of transmission; the debate on that Tuesday, the debate prep beforehand; the Minnesota fundraiser. We just received an article this morning that we are adding a couple of individuals who were at the restaurant that was helping prepare the food for the fundraiser, who are now quarantined.

So, there's truly a national scope of this outbreak, and we're really trying to cast as wide of a net as possible, using publicly available information, to ensure that the American public have access and have the transparency that they deserve.

AMY GOODMAN: Which also really shows us how important public information is. I mean, you have Michael Shear of The New York Times, who's COVID-positive, one of three reporters, White House reporters, who have tested positive since last weekend. He has not been contacted by the White House, he says. And so, the real question, if any contact tracing is being done. And why, Benjy, is this contact tracing so important, when people find out if they have been near any of the people? I mean, Chris Christie now, the former governor of New Jersey, who did debate prep and was at the Supreme Court ceremony, he is hospitalized with COVID.

BENJY RENTON: Yeah. And so, as you said, Michael Shear and a couple of individuals, including Chris Christie himself, really only found out that they were in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 via the media or any sort of news reports that they consumed, because there was no official contact tracing effort, that we know of, at the White House. And we received notification yesterday in a New York Times report that the event at the Supreme — the Supreme Court nomination event Saturday will not be contact traced.

And so, while this is a not an official contact tracing investigation — we're not conducting a medical investigation — we really believe and we hope that this tracker can enact change and essentially help people understand the scope, as well as, hopefully, if those who are contacts of the president or those who are contacts of those who tested positive, really urging them to quarantine and prevent further spread of this virus, as we've seen second-order contacts, which are essentially people who were not at the events that the president attended or not at the White House events, but were contacts with somebody else, and they tested positive. So, this is truly kind of a ripple effect when we talk about spread here.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Can you talk about some of the people you've identified as possible second-level contacts?

BENJY RENTON: Yeah. So, Claudia Conway, who is the daughter of former counsel to the president Kellyanne Conway, had posted on TikTok that she had tested positive for COVID-19. And she was not at any of the initial events or anything. She had contact, obviously, with her mother, Kellyanne. And so, we know that COVID-19 spreads oftentimes in home settings or in family settings, because those are areas where individuals are in close contact with each other without masks. So, that's one of them.

We've also started to really kind of draw back the scope of this, and maybe even go earlier than that Saturday Supreme Court event. We learned yesterday, according to The New York Times's Maggie Haberman, that two White House resident staff have tested positive. We read a CNN report a couple days ago that showed, even as far back as two or so weeks ago, there was a White House staffer that tested positive.

And we want to reiterate that we really do protect individuals' privacy, and so this is all publicly available information. And that often means that we may need to name someone as "White House staffer" or "journalist one" or "journalist two," "journalist three." But we really want to get as accurate and as timely of a data set as possible, without sacrificing privacy or accuracy.

AMY GOODMAN: And if people want to get this information, where can they go? We have five seconds.

BENJY RENTON: Yeah, so they can go to WHCOVIDTracker.com, and there's a tip line there that we encourage anybody to submit tips or even results, if they are contacts.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, with all the controversies going around college education right now, Benjy, I can see that your time is well spent. Benjy Renton, senior at Middlebury College in Vermont, one of the creators of the White House COVID-19 outbreak tracker website. I'm Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

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What did he know and when did he know it? Lies abound as Trump is treated for COVID

As the White House and President Trump's medical team issue conflicting statements on Trump's condition after he was hospitalized for COVID-19, and when he was infected, we speak with Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason. The administration's lack of transparency "certainly raises questions about the decisions that were made to allow him to travel, for him to decide to travel, and to expose what seems like a lot of people," Mason says.This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.




AMY GOODMAN: President Trump has entered his fourth day hospitalized at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Trump tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and was flown to the hospital on Friday after suffering a high fever and a drop in oxygen. Trump has received supplemental oxygen at least twice after his blood oxygen level fell. Doctors say Trump could be released back to the White House to continue his treatment as early as today.

Over the weekend, his medical team repeatedly gave limited and conflicting information about his health and refused to answer key questions, lied about other issues. On Saturday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said, quote, "We are still not on a clear path to a full recovery." On Sunday, doctors revealed Trump had been given dexamethasone, a common steroid that's recommended only for patients critically ill with COVID-19. His treatment has also included the experimental monoclonal antibody made by Regeneron and the antiviral drug remdesivir. CNN reports Trump may be the only COVID-19 patient to ever receive this combination of drugs.

On Sunday, Trump broke his quarantine by leaving the hospital to take a short drive to wave at his supporters outside. Trump appeared to be wearing just a cloth mask inside the sealed vehicle, possibly infecting the Secret Service agents who accompanied him.

Meanwhile, the number of prominent Republicans to get infected keeps growing. The list now includes first lady Melania Trump, Senators Mike Lee, Thom Tillis and Ron Johnson, Trump adviser Hope Hicks, Trump's campaign manager Bill Stepien, former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who's been hospitalized. Trump's personal assistant, Nicholas Luna, has also tested positive.

Many of those infected attended a ceremony at the White House for Trump's Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Notre Dame University president John Jenkins, who attended the event, has also tested positive.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who debated Trump on Tuesday, tested negative on Friday, as well as on Sunday.

We begin today's show with Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. He was previously the director of Harvard University's Global Health Institute. We're also joined by Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason, the former president of the White House Correspondents' Association.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Jeff Mason, let's begin with you. Now, you're in Wilmington now. You're covering Joe Biden. You were the White House Correspondent president in the beginning of Trump's term. Can you talk about, number one, would we know almost any of this on Thursday if it hadn't been a reporter at Bloomberg News who reported that Hope Hicks had tested positive for COVID-19?

JEFF MASON: Well, that's a great question. We wouldn't have known it when we did. That's for sure. I mean, when that news broke by Bloomberg and then ended up being confirmed, of course, by other news organizations, including my own, that led to a trickle of news about — essentially, about President Trump. I mean, he came on Fox News later that evening and also confirmed that Hope had gotten sick, and at that time said that he had been tested and also sort of gave an indication that he wasn't sure if he had it and whether he would need to go into quarantine. So, you know, it's hard, in retrospect, to know what would have — you know, if he still would have gone on Fox in that case. Clearly, eventually, they would have had to say that he had the disease, but, for sure, it started off because of good reporting from one of my colleagues.

AMY GOODMAN: And this issue is so critical because it is clear that President Trump knew at least before he left the tarmac for that New Jersey fundraiser, where he was inside with at least 18 of his donors and there was an inside/outside event of like 250 people — he knew that Hope Hicks had tested positive. The significance of this at this point? It is not clear whether he had been tested at that point, and it's not clear, certainly, that Hope Hicks gave it to him. For all we know, he gave it to her. So many people around him, at least 10, have now tested positive for COVID-19. But the significance of him going then in a plane to New Jersey for this fundraiser?

JEFF MASON: Yeah, I mean, you laid it out very well. It's exactly the opposite of what public health professionals have been encouraging Americans and others around the world not to do. If you have been exposed, certainly if you feel any symptoms, people are encouraged to stay home and not to travel, to wear a mask. President Trump, of course, has not been a regular mask wearer.

And the White House isn't giving a lot of details about what we would call a tick tock, which are the exact sort of details about a timeline of when he first found out. But the timeline that you have laid out is also what is generally known at this point, and it certainly raises questions about the decisions that were made to allow him to travel, for him to decide to travel, and to expose what seems like a lot of people.

AMY GOODMAN: And the critical question: When was Trump last tested, before Thursday? When did he last do a COVID test? I mean, the significance of this question is clear, because the White House is refusing to answer it, the doctor — his doctor is refusing to answer it. Before Thursday, when was he last tested? Any reporting on that?

JEFF MASON: Yeah, I mean, you're asking the question that I think a lot of people would like to know. He would have been tested — he would have been tested before the debate, I believe. I know that the Biden campaign —

AMY GOODMAN: No, actually, Chris Matthews — sorry, Chris Wallace said —

JEFF MASON: Yeah, feel free to correct me on that.

AMY GOODMAN: — that Trump arrived too late to actually have a test, and they worked on the, quote, "honor system."

JEFF MASON: OK, all right. That's right, and I'm glad you corrected me on that. I know that the Biden campaign said that he was tested before going to Cleveland. And that is obviously a big breach, if that's what happened with the White House and with President Trump.

The one thing they have been saying repeatedly throughout the last several weeks and months of this pandemic is that he is tested very regularly. I think many people assume that that would mean that he is tested on a daily basis, which would have included that Tuesday of that debate. I can tell you that reporters and others who are around the president regularly at the White House, obviously before this diagnosis, are tested on a daily basis. And so I think there is certainly an assumption that that was happening with him, too.

AMY GOODMAN: And that is another critical question. Your colleagues in the White House press corps who were there that weekend covering the events around Amy Coney Barrett, three have now tested positive, as far as we know, one of them Michael Shear of The New York Times. Now, you are a strong advocate of reporters at the White House. You were the head of the press association there. The significance of this? And how hard is it to work safely at the White House, when you have a president who the people around him are discouraged from wearing masks and you have a White House press secretary who does not wear a mask when she comes to brief the press?

JEFF MASON: Yeah, it's very tricky. It is a tricky time, because journalists, obviously, myself included, and all of my colleagues, feel a responsibility to cover this, which is the biggest story in the world, and to get information out to the American people, as well as the rest of the world, not only about now the president's health, but the policy response to the pandemic and everything else. So, it is definitely a challenge. And it's unusual, I would say, that reporters have to put themselves at risk just by going to do their jobs at the White House. But that has been the case.

AMY GOODMAN: Jeff Mason, I wanted to go back to you questioning President Trump. I believe it was on September 7th.

JEFF MASON: Thanks, Mr. President. The issue of what happened when you were in France continues to be a story.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You're going have to take that off, please. Just you can take it off. Your health — how many feet are you away?
JEFF MASON: I'll speak a lot louder.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, if you don't take it off — you're very muffled, so if you would take it off, it would be a lot easier.
JEFF MASON: I'll just speak a lot louder. Is that better?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It's better, yeah. It's better.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Jeff Mason, you clearly stood your ground. You were wearing that mask, and you refused to take it off. Talk about the significance of that and him telling other reporters, as well, at different times? That was a month ago today, telling them to take off their masks?

JEFF MASON: I think it's just representative of the ethos around mask wearing that President Trump has employed and used. He, as you were referring to earlier, doesn't like wearing a mask, doesn't like it when people around him are wearing a mask. In that particular case with me, he is right that I was far enough away from him that we had enough distance, in which I wouldn't have needed to wear a mask, but I was standing next to my colleagues. And that's why I left mine on.

AMY GOODMAN: And then, what happened yesterday, this moment when President Trump does a drive-by surprise wave to his supporters outside the hospital, it was an astounding moment to see him in this hermetically sealed, you know, presidential — I don't know if it's an SUV — with two —

JEFF MASON: I think it was an SUV, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Right — two Secret Service driving him. He is a sick COVID patient forcing his Secret Service to be in a car with closed windows. And the press, the White House press corps, told to go leave the premises at that point, because there would be no more news from President Trump.

JEFF MASON: Right. And to give a specific timeline on that, so, the small pool of reporters that covers the president's movements, that travels with him, that's called the pool. And we're given instructions in the morning as to what time to show up at the White House. And in yesterday's case, they showed up at the White House and then went to Walter Reed and then were given instructions to leave because there would be no more movements. There were other reporters out there, and I think that's, thankfully, why we were able to get some video. But the pool itself had been dismissed.

And I should also clarify something I said earlier. It's just the pool of reporters, that 13-member group, that gets tested every day when they go to the White House. There are lots of other reporters, including on that day of the nomination ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who do not get tested. So, the precautions there are limited to a small group of people.

But to get back to your specific question, yes, he certainly breached protocols with regard to the press, and certainly also breached protocols with regard to health, by leaving the hospital and by going out and doing that. It's the opposite — the opposite — of what COVID patients are encouraged to do all around this country, certainly if they're in a hospital, but also simply if you're at home. If you are diagnosed with a disease — which, let's be clear, he has the disease and is being treated for it — you are to stay quarantined and to stay, in this case, in the hospital, or otherwise at home.

AMY GOODMAN: The sad joke online about yesterday's drive-by: Secret Service members are there to take a bullet for the president, not from him.

Naomi Klein fears Trump will exploit his COVID infection to further destabilize the election

How will President Trump's revelation that he tested positive for COVID-19 affect the presidential race? Acclaimed journalist, author and activist Naomi Klein warns that the Trump campaign is likely to exploit the news. "We need to be prepared for the president using the fact that he's having to cancel campaign events for two weeks to try to further delegitimize elections," she says.

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! The Quarantine Report. I'm Amy Goodman, as we continue to look at this breaking news, President Trump and the first lady testing positive for COVID-19, announcing they'll be quarantined for the next 14 days, canceling his campaign events. We end today's show looking at how the development will impact the presidential race.

We're going to start with Naomi Klein, senior correspondent at The Intercept, a professor at Rutgers University, executive producer of new short video titled A Message from the Future II: The Years of Repair. Her latest book, out now in paperback, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal.

Naomi, I assume you went to sleep not knowing this news, and you wake up, looking down from British Columbia, and you see what has taken place. You cover leaders around the world. We know that President Bolsonaro tested positive for COVID-19 — at least he announced something like three times. And then you have Boris Johnson, the prime minister of Britain, who said — both of them, like Trump, who have so seriously downplayed the pandemic, risking not clear how many lives. Boris Johnson, the prime minister, said he was going to work through this. He ended up in the intensive care unit. Naomi, if you can talk about this link of the denial of the pandemic to authoritarian leaders?

NAOMI KLEIN: Sure. Well, Amy, it's good to be with you. Absolutely. And when you look at these figures — Trump, Bolsonaro, Johnson — these are the figures who believe that they can bully this virus, and they believe they can bully science in all kinds of ways. But, of course, the pandemic doesn't bend to their will. And so they've all been under this sort of reality avalanche. I mean, Trump is a reality television star. He's used to being able to cut and paste reality to his liking. And ever since this pandemic began and his denials made it so much worse and his bullying of scientists made it so much worse, he has finally confronted some physical reality that he can't bully in the same way that he, frankly, bullies the stock market — and has a lot of success bullying reality, but there's some reality that doesn't confirm — doesn't conform.

You know, as you know, Amy, I also have spent a lot of my writing career researching moments of shock and how they are exploited by the powerful. That's the thesis behind The Shock Doctrine. And so I find myself thinking a lot about that this morning, because, as we speak, there is no doubt that Trump is meeting with his advisers, and has been since they knew about this, since they knew about Hope Hicks, trying to figure out how to exploit this, including, I'm afraid, using it as an excuse to do what they have been trying to do relentlessly, which is discredit elections that Trump is terrified he is going to lose. So, as we think about what this means, we need to be prepared for the president using the fact that he's having to cancel campaign events for two weeks to try to further delegitimize elections that he very likely will lose.

I think we need to remember that this president has been campaigning for reelection since the day after he was inaugurated and since he started circulating false photographs of the rallies that supposedly greeted him. He has had plenty of time to campaign. He has done nothing but campaign for reelection since he became president.

So, I think that, you know, we're seeing a lot of Democrats sending thoughts and prayers this morning. You know, I really think we should see Trump getting COVID as the epidemiological equivalent of a mass shooting, where the shooter opens fire on the crowd and then turns the gun on himself. This is not a tragic accident. It is a crime scene and should be treated as such.

Coming back to those leaders you mentioned, you know, I think that Trump — the reckless endangering of the country, but also himself — right? — is a result of the fact that he truly believes — you know, I think he believes in white supremacy, to be honest with you. Ilhan Omar tweeted yesterday that the president is a white supremacist. I think she's right. He talks about his good genes all the time, in this kind of coded language. I believe he actually has such faith in his own genetic supremacy that he has engaged in this reckless behavior despite all of the health risks that we have heard from your medical experts earlier in the show, because he believes himself to be supreme. And, you know, he is not. He is fallible. He is mortal.

Naomi Klein: I fear Trump will exploit his COVID infection to further destabilize the election

How will President Trump's revelation that he tested positive for COVID-19 affect the presidential race? Acclaimed journalist, author and activist Naomi Klein warns that the Trump campaign is likely to exploit the news. "We need to be prepared for the president using the fact that he's having to cancel campaign events for two weeks to try to further delegitimize elections," she says.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! The Quarantine Report. I'm Amy Goodman, as we continue to look at this breaking news, President Trump and the first lady testing positive for COVID-19, announcing they'll be quarantined for the next 14 days, canceling his campaign events. We end today's show looking at how the development will impact the presidential race.

We're going to start with Naomi Klein, senior correspondent at The Intercept, a professor at Rutgers University, executive producer of new short video titled A Message from the Future II: The Years of Repair. Her latest book, out now in paperback, On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal.

Naomi, I assume you went to sleep not knowing this news, and you wake up, looking down from British Columbia, and you see what has taken place. You cover leaders around the world. We know that President Bolsonaro tested positive for COVID-19 — at least he announced something like three times. And then you have Boris Johnson, the prime minister of Britain, who said — both of them, like Trump, who have so seriously downplayed the pandemic, risking not clear how many lives. Boris Johnson, the prime minister, said he was going to work through this. He ended up in the intensive care unit. Naomi, if you can talk about this link of the denial of the pandemic to authoritarian leaders?

NAOMI KLEIN: Sure. Well, Amy, it's good to be with you. Absolutely. And when you look at these figures — Trump, Bolsonaro, Johnson — these are the figures who believe that they can bully this virus, and they believe they can bully science in all kinds of ways. But, of course, the pandemic doesn't bend to their will. And so they've all been under this sort of reality avalanche. I mean, Trump is a reality television star. He's used to being able to cut and paste reality to his liking. And ever since this pandemic began and his denials made it so much worse and his bullying of scientists made it so much worse, he has finally confronted some physical reality that he can't bully in the same way that he, frankly, bullies the stock market — and has a lot of success bullying reality, but there's some reality that doesn't confirm — doesn't conform.

You know, as you know, Amy, I also have spent a lot of my writing career researching moments of shock and how they are exploited by the powerful. That's the thesis behind The Shock Doctrine. And so I find myself thinking a lot about that this morning, because, as we speak, there is no doubt that Trump is meeting with his advisers, and has been since they knew about this, since they knew about Hope Hicks, trying to figure out how to exploit this, including, I'm afraid, using it as an excuse to do what they have been trying to do relentlessly, which is discredit elections that Trump is terrified he is going to lose. So, as we think about what this means, we need to be prepared for the president using the fact that he's having to cancel campaign events for two weeks to try to further delegitimize elections that he very likely will lose.

I think we need to remember that this president has been campaigning for reelection since the day after he was inaugurated and since he started circulating false photographs of the rallies that supposedly greeted him. He has had plenty of time to campaign. He has done nothing but campaign for reelection since he became president.

So, I think that, you know, we're seeing a lot of Democrats sending thoughts and prayers this morning. You know, I really think we should see Trump getting COVID as the epidemiological equivalent of a mass shooting, where the shooter opens fire on the crowd and then turns the gun on himself. This is not a tragic accident. It is a crime scene and should be treated as such.

Coming back to those leaders you mentioned, you know, I think that Trump — the reckless endangering of the country, but also himself — right? — is a result of the fact that he truly believes — you know, I think he believes in white supremacy, to be honest with you. Ilhan Omar tweeted yesterday that the president is a white supremacist. I think she's right. He talks about his good genes all the time, in this kind of coded language. I believe he actually has such faith in his own genetic supremacy that he has engaged in this reckless behavior despite all of the health risks that we have heard from your medical experts earlier in the show, because he believes himself to be supreme. And, you know, he is not. He is fallible. He is mortal.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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