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After a request for comment, the left-wing New Yorker magazine reporter weakly attempted to defend himself in a tweet, claiming he was being “sarcastic.”
Hertzberg, a longtime political commentator and staff writer at the New Yorker, was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War and later served as then-President Jimmy Carter’s chief White House speechwriter.
Over three hours after his initial tweet made waves, Hertzberg followed up by tweeting: “As somebody or other once said, I was being … sarcastic.” That was a reference to a Trump remark from last week; the president said he “was asking a question sarcastically” to coronavirus experts at the White House about using disinfectant “by injection inside or almost a cleaning.” Many of the president’s critics said they didn’t buy his explanation.
The White House has been planning to shift Trump’s public focus to the burgeoning efforts aimed at easing the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Days after he publicly mused that scientists should explore the injection of toxic disinfectants as a potential virus cure, Trump has now rejected the utility of his daily task force briefings, where he has created friction with scientific experts. Trump’s aides have been aiming to move the president onto more familiar ground: talking up the economy, in tighter controlled settings.
Hendrik Hertzberg of The New Yorker courted controversy with a tweet about President Trump. (Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images, File)
Some states have started to ease closure orders, and Trump is expected to begin to highlight his administration’s work in helping businesses and employees. Aides said the president would hold more frequent roundtables with CEOs, business owners and beneficiaries of the trillions of dollars in federal aid already approved by Congress, and begin to outline what he hopes to see in a future recovery package.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.