For weeks, President Trump has been giving daily briefings on the US pandemic response, often running more than two hours and often lashing out against perceived critics or veering off into attacks on sitting governors.
But while the hours of briefings have been frustrating for reporters, they’ve been unexpectedly good for content.
One audio clip from earlier this month has gone unexpectedly viral on TikTok, racking up more than 250 videos and more than a million views over the past week. The clip captures the president expounding on the brilliance of the novel coronavirus in both a vague and an authoritative way:
You can see the original briefing here. The speech came in response to a question about making coronavirus testing priority for food processing workers, which was linked to an outbreak in Denver. The president responded that testing needs are difficult to anticipate, which pivoted into a broader disposition on the sinister brilliance of the virus.
This is a brilliant enemy. They develop drugs like the antibiotics. Antibiotics used to solve every problem, and now one of the biggest problems the world has is, the germ has gotten so brilliant that the antibiotic can’t keep up with it. They’re constantly trying to come up with a new... People go to a hospital and they catch... they go for a heart operation — that’s no problem — but they end up dying from.... from problems, you know the problems I’m talking about. There’s a whole genius to it, we’re fighting, not only is it hidden but it’s very smart. And you see that in a case like Denver.
In broad strokes, he’s talking about antibiotic resistance, which is a real and scary problem, but it has nothing to do with the current pandemic. (Antibiotics fight bacterial infections like pneumonia, not viruses like the novel coronavirus.) So while it’s natural to wonder if a clip like this is taken out of context, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in context either.
Some doctors have even gotten in on the meme, using the audio as a stand-in for an unprepared medical student.