The ongoing threat posed by the coronavirus crisis is shining a bright light on our politicians. Some, like Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, are showing their leadership mettle. Others are Devin Nunes.
And now Nunes is knee-deep in spreading bad advice about how to avoid spreading the coronavirus.
On Sunday, Nunes had this conversation with Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo:
Nunes: There’s a lot of concerns with the economy here, because people are scared to go out. But I will just say, one of the things you can do, if you’re healthy, you and your family, it’s a great time to just go out, go to a local restaurant, likely you can get in, get in easily. Let’s not hurt the working people in this country that are relying on wages and tips to keep their small business going.
Bartiromo: You know, we’re very sympathetic.
Nunes: Don’t run to the — don’t run to the —
Nunes: Don’t run to the grocery store and buy $4,000 of food.
Bartiromo: Right, they are cleaning off the shelves.
Nunes: Go to your local pub, yeah.
It’s not complicated to understand a) what Nunes was recommending and b) why it’s wrong. He is suggesting that if you are “healthy” now is a “great time to just go out, go to a local restaurant, likely you can get in, get in easily.”
So, go out and get a nice dinner with your family, Nunes was suggesting, because it will be easy to get a table since so many people aren’t going out. That, of course, is directly opposed to the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the Trump administration which is encouraging staying at home and certainly not gathering in a restaurant (or anywhere else) with crowds above 50 (as of when Nunes gave his interview) or 10 (as of now).
Which, look, OK. Nunes got a little carried away. He’s trying to keep local business alive. He was well intentioned but mistaken. It happens. This is a time of confusion and chaos for everyone.
The real problem here is what Nunes said Monday night on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show. Here’s their exchange:
Hannity: Congressman Nunes. I know you got hammered because you said you wanted to support a local restaurant. The good news is I can tell you these restaurants are now delivering, taking care of their customers in other ways. I spoke to you earlier. You support the President’s decision.
Nunes: Well, Sean, it’s actually even — these media freaks don’t have a clue what’s going on out in the real world.
Hannity: Ha! The mob.
Nunes: We have a problem out here because we have people standing in line for 45 minutes at Costco. What I was saying is you have empty restaurants. You can go through the drive-thru, you can do take-out. It’s a great place to go. The media freaks can do [what] they want. But, you know, they’re endangering lives here by continuing this panic when we have no food shortage in this country. The farmers of America produce an abundant food supply. We have more food than we can eat in this country. We have to stop panicking and ensure that people know they don’t have to wait in a line at Costco for 30, 45 minutes. They need to stay calm.
To be very clear: This has nothing to do with the “media freaks.” Nor does it have to do with people going out and hoarding food. Or the very real need to try to support local business by ordering takeout food.
What Nunes said to Bartiromo is very clear (bolding is mine): “But I will just say, one of the things you can do, if you’re healthy, you and your family, it’s a great time to just go out, go to a local restaurant, likely you can get in, get in easily.“
He is talking about going out to eat. It’s impossible to conclude anything else from his words.
What he wasn’t saying is what he told Hannity: “You can go through the drive-thru, you can do take-out.” No, dude.
Because he’s on Fox (and on with Hannity), Nunes feels totally comfortable trying to rewrite history in a way that makes him look like he was right all along and that the media was twisting his words.
He wasn’t. And they weren’t. Facts still matter.