President Donald Trump submitted to an on-air “medical evaluation” on Friday, October 9, during Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News. Dr. Marc Siegel, a Fox commentator who has previously made a number of controversial statements on the coronavirus, performed Trump’s evaluation.
Siegel is an associate professor of medicine at the NYU Langone medical center. In March, the doctor appeared on Fox News and called the World Health Organization a “bunch of alarmists,” arguing, “This is a contagious virus, we’re concerned about it. We don’t have a vaccine for it, but there’s no reason to believe it’s actually more problematic or deadly than influenza.” Since January, the coronavirus has killed more Americans than the past five flu seasons combined, according to a report by CNN.
In July, Siegel and the president spoke to one another live on Fox News. The president told Siegel, “I watch you all the time. You’re almost like my guide to (the pandemic), ’cause frankly you really have a good take on it.”
Trump’s Friday interview with Siegel — his first on-camera interview since testing positive for the coronavirus — was pre-taped.
Here’s what you need to know:
Trump Undergoes ‘Medical Evaluation’ On-Air, Says He’s Off Medication
“I didn’t have a problem breathing,” President Trump when asked how he felt when he was taken to Walter Reed last Friday
He was put on supplemental oxygen in the hours before he was taken to the hospital
— Jordan Fabian (@Jordanfabian) October 10, 2020
During his on-air “evaluation,” Trump answered a series of questions about his experience with coronavirus. He said at one point that he felt “really good, really strong” at the moment, and that he’d been “medication-free” in the eight hours leading up to his interview.
Trump said that his primary symptom from COVID-19 was fatigue, and that he didn’t have trouble with breathing. He said, “I didn’t have a problem with breathing, none of that.” As journalist Katie Simpson pointed out on Twitter, this claim runs counter to what his doctors said about having to give him supplemental oxygen at one point as a part of his treatment.
When asked about the imaging taken of his lungs, Trump said, “It tested good … initially there was some congestion in there.”
The Legitimacy of Siegel’s Interview Was Immediately Challenged & Criticized Online
The president is doing a fine job dealing with an interview via satellite with Dr. Siegel on Fox News. No complications, he seems perfectly comfortable.
So, why not a town hall debate like this?
The president tells Dr. Siegel he doesn't want to do a debate "by computer" pic.twitter.com/IVkGCUiOQH
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) October 10, 2020
Trump’s interview with Siegel was promoted as a “medical evaluation,” but Siegel didn’t seem to diagnose or evaluate Trump at any point. Sara Cook, a producer for CBS, tweeted, “The President’s interview on Fox News by Dr. Siegel was promoted as a ‘medical evaluation’…that was not remotely what that was.”
Many of Siegel’s questions were less about medicine than about Trump’s leadership. At one point, the doctor asked, “Lessons learned … from your own illness that you would apply to stewarding the ship forward in the fight in the pandemic … how you can apply it to other people who have COVID-19 or how to prevent getting COVID-19?”
Trump replied, “I think the biggest thing is that I did (catch) it early.”
He also acknowledged that his relatively easy access to health care has played a role in his recovery. “You know, I have such great access to medical. … It’s a lot easier for me than someone who doesn’t have access to a doctor so easily, where it’s a big deal to see a doctor. But you know here, we have ’em all over the White House,” he said.