On Thursday, The View tackled President Donald Trump's coronavirus diagnosis, and the shifts in the White House's messaging on the pandemic. Hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar cast suspicion on the president's diagnosis, confusing hospitalization and quick return to public life. Both hosts even wondered whether Trump had actually had COVID-19, suggesting it might have been a publicity stunt.
"The more he talks, the less I think he had it," Goldberg said as they examined clips of Trump speaking. Behar agreed: "Me too." Both questioned how the president could recover so quickly from the virus, especially after he needed to be treated with supplemental oxygen and hospitalized. Goldberg incorrectly claimed that Trump is "the only person on the face of the Earth" to recover this quickly, adding: "I just feel weird about it."
"I'm kind of agreeing with you," Behar said. "He's a liar. Why would you believe anything he says?"
Goldberg and Behar's theory that Trump never had COVID-19 at all is an escalation of the more common theory that Trump, his administration and even his doctors grossly misrepresented his status throughout his illness. White House physician Dr. Sean Conley candidly admitted to lying to reporters about Trump's condition while he was hospitalized. Pundits have generally assumed that Trump simply ignored medical advice, returning to public life while he was still infectious.
If Goldberg and Behar were right, it is not clear why Trump would have completely fabricated his illness or how it would have benefited him politically or otherwise. Trump has been under fire for being insensitive to victims of the coronavirus pandemic and the loved ones of the deceased. He also received a level of treatment that few people have access to, including an experimental drug from a company that he holds a considerable stake in personally.
As for Goldberg and Behar's concerns about Trump's symptoms, many people have gotten through COVID-19 while being virtually asymptomatic. This condition still presents the threat of spreading the virus to others, who might get a more severe case or have a long-lasting reaction. However, Goldberg suggested that the doubt itself might have been the point, saying: "Because it's hard to trust him, it's hard to go with it. And I hate feeling like that."
If Trump hoped to gain sympathy or down-play the coronavirus pandemic by falsely claiming to have the virus, it has not worked out. According to a report by NBC News, voters on both sides of the political spectrum consider the pandemic a key issue in the 2020 presidential election — especially in hard-hit parts of the Midwest and other areas that the GOP can typically rely on. That report suggested that this is why some Republican senators are shifting away from outright support for the president.