Former U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday harshly criticized President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and faulted him for turning the White House into a “hot zone.”
“More than 225,000 people in this country are dead. More than 100,000 small businesses have closed. Half a million jobs are gone in Florida alone. Think about that,” Obama said, speaking from Orlando as he campaigned for Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
He continued, “And what’s his closing argument? That people are too focused on Covid. He said this at one of his rallies. COVID, COVID, COVID, he’s complaining. He’s jealous of COVID’s media coverage. If he had been focused on COVID from the beginning, cases wouldn’t be reaching new record highs across the country this week.”
Obama, an important surrogate for Biden, campaigned for his former vice president for the second time in four days in Florida. The key battleground state could play a decisive role in the outcome of the election, and recent polls show a tight race between Trump and Biden.
Obama’s Orlando speech built on a blistering rebuke of Trump he delivered last week in Pennsylvania, his first foray onto the campaign trail since a speech to the Democratic National Convention earlier in the year, and over the weekend in Florida.
Obama’s speeches have shown how he is keeping tabs on the day-to-day news about Trump, and how the Biden campaign is deploying him to deliver some of its harshest attacks on the current President and his administration.
Former presidents usually avoid directly attacking their successor in the White House, but Obama has delivered full-throated criticisms of Trump while campaigning for Biden. But Trump, with the way he has continually attacked Obama, even suggesting he should be indicted, has changed the calculus, thrusting the former president onto the campaign trail.
Democrats hope Obama can help gin up enthusiasm among the Democratic base and encourage Black men, Latinos and younger voters in battleground states to turn out and vote.
He accused Trump of failing to take preventative measures to contain the virus across the nation and in the White House. He also pointed to the second recent outbreak among White House staff, which infected several aides including Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short.
“Let me say this: I lived in the White House for a while,” Obama said. “You know, it’s a controlled environment. You can take some preventive measures in the White House to avoid getting sick. Except, this guy can’t seem to do it. He’s turned the White House into a hot zone.”
Obama criticized the comments made over the weekend by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,” “We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas.”
“Listen, winter is coming,” Obama said. “They’re waving the white flag of surrender. Florida, we can’t afford four more years of this.” He added, “We cannot afford this kind of incompetence and disinterest.”
The former president also criticized senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, for recent comments he made about Black Americans. Kushner said Monday on Fox News, “One thing we’ve seen in a lot of the Black community, which is mostly Democrat, is that President Trump’s policies are the policies that can help people break out of the problems that they’re complaining about. But he can’t want them to be successful more than they want to be successful.”
Obama seized on the comments, saying, “(Trump’s) son-in-law says Black folks have to want to be successful. That’s the problem.” After a short pause, an incredulous-sounding Obama continued, “Who are these folks? What history books do they read? Who do they talk to?”
Trump responded to Obama’s speech on Twitter, noting that the remarks were airing on Fox News and claiming his predecessor was drawing a small crowd and giving a “fake speech” for Biden.
“Listen, you’ve got a president right now, he wants full credit for an economy that he inherited, he wants zero blame for the pandemic he ignored. But you know what, the job doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to be responsible 24/7. You’ve got to pay attention 24/7. Tweeting at the TV doesn’t fix things. Watching TV all day doesn’t fix things. Making stuff up doesn’t fix things,” Obama said.
One week from Election Day, Obama encouraged Floridians to vote early in-person or by mail. “Don’t wait. Put it in the mail or drop it off at a dropbox location today. Don’t take any chances, just get it done,” Obama said.
“We have to turn out like never before, Orlando. We have to leave no doubt. We can’t be complacent. We were complacent last time. Folks got a little lazy. Folks took things for granted. And look what happened. Not this time,” Obama said.
Obama praised his former vice president, describing Biden as a man of “principle and character” and highlighting his empathy and decency.
“He made me a better president, and he’s got the character and the experience to make us a better country,” Obama said.
Obama laid out the ways Biden has said he would get the pandemic under control, including making coronavirus tests free and widely available, distributing a vaccine to every American at no cost and providing enough personal protective equipment to all front-line workers.
“He’s going to make sure that small businesses that hold our communities together and employ millions of Americans can reopen safely, and he understands that we’re not going to rebuild the economy and put people back to work until we get this pandemic under control,” Obama said.
He lambasted Trump and Republicans for attempting to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s landmark health care plan.
“Last week, Trump flat out said he hopes the Supreme Court takes your health insurance away. Said it out loud,” Obama said. “Don’t boo, vote,” he said, repeating a favorite line of his when the crowd booed. The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on the future of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, next month.
Obama said if elected, Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris of California would “protect your health care, they will expand Medicare, they’ll make insurance more affordable for everybody, because Joe knows that a president’s first job is to keep us safe from all threats, foreign, domestic, and microscopic.”
Lay-offs at Hong Kong TV station stoke concerns over media freedom – Reuters Canada
HONG KONG (Reuters) – A Hong Kong television station said on Tuesday about 100 staff were “affected” by a shake-up as it seeks to control costs and remain competitive in a challenging economic environment, a move that has re-ignited worries over media freedom in the city.
Local media said 40 workers had been laid off from i-Cable, including the entire team from the station’s award-winning investigative section News Lancet.
“In the face of daunting challenges, the group has devoted to adopting various measures to explore new business opportunities for competitiveness enhancement and sustainable development,” the station said in a statement, adding that about 100 positions of the group’s 1,300 staff would be affected.
“Under this circumstance, after a comprehensive review, it was unavoidable for the group to carry out an organizational restructure of various departments.”
The pay TV station did not say how many had been sacked.
Wong Lai-ping, deputy chief of the station’s China News team, which covers human rights on the mainland and reported from Wuhan province on the coronavirus outbreak, told reporters she was among those laid off. Ten other members of the team had resigned in protest against the lay-offs, she added.
i-Cable journalists told Reuters the lay-offs had prompted the heads of the station’s China News, Hong Kong General News, Finance News and Editing desk to resign.
Yau Ting-leung, 22, a journalist from the News Lancet segment who said he was fired after about six months with the company, said he was sceptical of the reason behind the decision.
“It’s definitely media censorship. It’s a pity they sacked the entire team. There aren’t many TV investigative news programmes in Hong Kong,” Yau said.
i-Cable told Reuters it had no comment when asked about reports of censorship.
The Hong Kong Journalists’ Association said it was watching the situation closely as media have already come under pressure in the wake of a new national security law introduced by Beijing on its freest city on June 30.
“This time the whole ‘News Lancet’ team of Cable News was laid off and the team has often reported against/on the police or the regime in the past year,” HKJA said in a statement.
i-Cable was founded in 1993 and is now owned by David Chiu, chairman and CEO of Far East Consortium.
Reporting By Sharon Tam, Jessie Pang; Yanni Chow; Clare Jim, Donny Kwok, Joyce Zhou; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan
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Session 1 of Media and Journalism track of 3rd Virtual Global WHO Infodemic Conference – World Health Organization
World Health Organization (WHO) and BBC Media Action and Internews,are pleased to invite you to participate in the media and journalism track of the 3rd Virtual Global WHO Infodemic Conference entitled “Whole-of-Society
Challenges and Solutions to Respond to Infodemics.” The WHO defines an Infodemic as “an overabundance of information – some accurate and some not – occurring during an epidemic, making it hard for people to find trustworthy
sources and reliable guidance when it is most needed.
The objective of the conference is to bring together all segments of society to find a truly multi-sectorial approach to managing Infodemics. Your media and journalism experience is needed to help ‘repair’ and ‘prepare’ the
media’s response to the Infodemic. No matter your role in the media industry, your opinion can help shape the future of journalism during the next pandemic.
Topic: The Challenge: Infodemics & the Media – learning from the past
Date: 2 December 2020 14:00 – 16:00 CET
Your participation in this session will help identify challenges and lessons learned
from the 2020 Infodemic.
Part 1 (14:00 – 15:00 CET) is a roundtable discussion between global leaders in media and journalism.
- Hussein Al Sharif, Maharat Foundation (Lebanon)
- Imogen Foulkes, Geneva Correspondent, BBC (Switzerland)
- Asha Mwilu, Founder and editor at large at Debunk Media (Kenya)
- Palagummi Sainath, People’s Archive of Rural India (India)
- Moderator: Ida Jooste, Internews
Part 2 (15:00 – 16:00 CET) will include invitation only “Repair Cafe” breakout sessions. Participants (you) will be randomly chosen to participate through separate calendar invites.
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