Betrayal-Why Did Trump Believe Chinese Disinformation Instead of US Intelligence?
…This criticism contains an element of truth. As The Wall Street Journal reported in early March, the Chinese government lied about the threat posed by COVID-19 and the coronavirus’s transmissibility to humans, and dragged its feet in informing the public, even silencing a whistleblower, Li Wenliang, who tried to warn the country about the threat of the disease before succumbing to it himself. “By not moving aggressively to warn the public and medical professionals, public-health experts say, the Chinese government lost one of its best chances to keep the disease from becoming an epidemic,” The New York Times reported in early February.
Since that report, Chinese officials have engaged in a propaganda offensive, expelling American journalists, minimizing their early missteps, and putting forth a conspiracy theory that the virus was engineered by the U.S. military. Compared with all this, the president’s defenders argue, Trump referring to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” seems trivial.
Lost in that comparison, however, is the fact that the most effective target of CCP disinformation has been Trump himself. The president’s public praise of the Chinese government’s response was not simply a public stance. According to The Washington Post, at the same time that Trump was stating that Beijing had the disease under control, U.S. intelligence agencies were already warning him that “Chinese officials appeared to be minimizing the severity of the outbreak.”
Administration officials directly warned Trump of the danger posed by the virus, but “Trump’s insistence on the contrary seemed to rest in his relationship with China’s President Xi Jingping, whom Trump believed was providing him with reliable information about how the virus was spreading in China,” The Washington Post reported, “despite reports from intelligence agencies that Chinese officials were not being candid about the true scale of the crisis.”