Stephen Colbert mocks Trump's push to reopen schools during COVID-19 spike

On the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Colbert railed into President Donald Trump's call to force public schools to reopen despite not having a national plan for keeping kids, teachers and families safe.

With confirmed COVID-19 cases continuing to spike across the U.S., the death toll surging drastically and a laid-back response to the ongoing pandemic from Donald Trump, Stephen Colbert has taken aim at the U.S. President once again in a lengthy Late Show monologue.

After a two-week hiatus, Colbert, 56, returned to host the at-home edition of the popular late-night show, with an opening 16-minute-spanning monologue about the Trump administration’s handling of the novel coronavirus.

Despite the continued risk of spreading COVID-19 in large gatherings, Colbert noted that Trump, 74, was so “desperate” for children to go back to schools that he threatened to cut educational funding nationwide — via Twitter — if they did not reopen this fall.

“In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS,” Trump tweeted on July 8.

“The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families,” he continued. “May cut off funding if not open!”

“That is a big threat to schools: Open, or lose some of your funding,” said Colbert in response.

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As noted by the popular comedian, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos appeared in a number of TV interviews last Sunday “to reinforce that message.”

“American investment and education is a promise to students and their families. If schools aren’t going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn’t get the funds,” said DeVos, during an interview with Fox News.

“Nothing says you’re a great Secretary of Education like a sentence with a triple-negative,” quipped Colbert, after re-reading her quote. “That’s like watching the Secretary of the Navy go on TV and drown in a kiddie-pool.”

Colbert also joked that DeVos may have only just discovered she was the Secretary of Education, before doubling down on Trump’s threat.

“Understandably, there are some concerns about returning to school, such as, y’know … the dying stuff,” said Colbert.

As of this writing, the U.S. has more than 3.3 million confirmed cases of the life-threatening illness.

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The White House even began discrediting its most trusted coronavirus expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, last week, by playing down the danger of COVID-19 as Trump pushes to get the economy moving before the 2020 presidential election this November.

On July 6, Trump retweeted a post by Chuck Woolery, once the host of TV’s Love Connection, claiming that “Everyone is lying” about the novel coronavirus. Woolery’s tweet attacked not just the media and Democrats but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and most doctors — including Fauci — “that we are told to trust.”

“I think it’s all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election,” the tweet concluded.

“Coronavirus cases are skyrocketing. But don’t worry, because the White House is working hard on an aggressive new plan — to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci,” Colbert said of the matter.

“The guy you’re undermining during a public health crisis is your top public health expert. That’s like discrediting Lassie right when she starts barking,” he added.

‘What is it, girl? Did Timmy fall down the well? Why should I believe you? The president says you spend all your time licking your own butt,” Colbert joked, referencing the popular TV dog.

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Last week, the Republican leader suggested that the severity of the pandemic — which has killed more than 135,000 Americans — is being overstated by critics to damage his chances of being reelected.

Fauci, however, contradicted Trump about the severity of the virus during a FiveThirtyEight podcast. While Trump contends repeatedly that he has done a great job against the pandemic, Fauci said, “As a country, when you compare us to other countries, I don’t think you can say we’re doing great. I mean, we’re just not.”

“How dare you, Fauci. What kind of monster would say America’s not doing great and needs to be made great again?” Colbert joked in his signature Trump impression.

Colbert later suggested that the president’s administration had “ramped up their attacks on Fauci,” because Trump simply didn’t want to talk about COVID-19.

“Even though Fauci is part of the administration’s own task force, the White House is treating him as if he were a political warring rival,” Colbert quipped.

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Trump later said Fauci, 79, had “made a lot of mistakes.” He pointed to Fauci’s early disagreement with him over the China travel ban and to the evolving guidance over the use of masks as scientists’ understanding of the virus improved — points the White House expanded on in statements to media outlets over the weekend.

“You don’t like his diagnosis? So you try to destroy his reputation … makes sense,” Colbert added of Trump’s response to statements about COVID-19.

Despite his grievances with Fauci, Trump — after months of refusing to do so and suggesting they were optional — finally wore a protective face mask, for the first time since the pandemic began, last Saturday (July 11).

It served as the first time the president has been seen in public with the type of facial covering recommended by health officials as a precaution against spreading or becoming infected by COVID-19.

“Ha ha! Fell for it, sucker,” joked Colbert of the revelation. “This was all the long con. We’ve been wearing ’em just to get you to look stupid. You’ve been health’d,” he added.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

— With files from the Associated Press

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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