Family Research Council president Tony Perkins was joined by elected officials on his daily syndicated radio program this week in arguing that the United States’ reaction to the coronavirus outbreak has been “irrational” and that U.S. media has fueled public panic.
The World Health Organization announced today that it considers the COVID-19 outbreak to be a global pandemic. In the United States, the number of cases reported has increased to more than 1,000, lawmakers have gone into quarantine after coming into contact with infected people, and testing has encountered multiple hurdles, including a supply shortage in lab materials. The Trump administration has faced scrutiny for its handling of the crisis.
Meanwhile, Perkins attempted to assuage the fears of his listeners. On the Monday edition of Perkins’ show “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins,” he spoke with Rep. Ralph Abraham of Louisiana, who agreed with Perkins that public concern about the disease’s spread was a product of mass media hysteria. Louisiana authorities reported the states’ first presumptive positive cases of coronavirus this week.
Perkins was defending Trump’s public behavior during the pandemic—which has been largely dismissive and antagonistic—by claiming that Trump was simply “trying to calm people down by not acting like this is, you know, the end of the world.”
Speaking about public panic, Perkins said, “This is being fueled, I think, by a sense of panic from the media.”
“Oh, I totally agree with that,” Abraham replied.
Later on during the Monday broadcast, Perkins hosted Seattle pastor Dave Bearden, and together, they suggested that listeners pray to reduce their anxiety about the coronavirus and take whatever precautions deemed necessary, but he urged them “not get caught up in the hysteria that is taking place right now.”
“It’s amazing to me despite all of the technology, despite all of our advances, that we still suffer from these types of things, and ultimately they’re in the hands of God. We need to do our part, but we can have peace in the midst of the storm if we turn to God during these times and challenges,” Perkins said.
Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas joined Perkins yesterday on “Washington Watch” and agreed with Perkins that the Trump administration was responding, he said, “so quickly, so smartly” to what were ultimately “irrational fears.” Perkins argued that the response to the pandemic has been “disproportionate to the threat.”
“I’m scratching my head when I compare the numbers, the CDC’s numbers on the number of people who’ve contracted the flu this year, this flu season, 32 million people—20,000 people have died from the flu, from influenza,” Perkins said. “This is a more potent virus, there’s no question about that. Nobody’s arguing that. But the response, again, is just irrational—I think part because the media has been, you know, just pounding it.”