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Media react to Trump's COVID diagnosis with succession scenarios, I-told-you-so's

COVID infection stems from Trump's "deadly, foolish recklessness," says one editorial; another writer says Trump "asked for it."

Updated: October 2, 2020 - 1:30pm

The announcement early Friday that President Trump has tested positive for COVID-19 sent much of the media racing to speculate on the possibility of Trump's dying while in office and asserting that the president's handling of the virus led to his infection. 

As of Friday afternoon, the president was reportedly experiencing "mild symptoms" from the disease, while at the New York Times, editor Megan Specia was speculating on "what happens if Trump becomes too ill to perform his duties."

"Not since 1981, when President Ronald Reagan was shot, has a president been known to confront a life-threatening illness in office," Specia wrote, noting that Vice President Pence is second-in-line for the presidency and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is third. 

At "The Week," writer Ryan Cooper claimed that Trump's diagnosis with the disease signified a "consequence of his actions."

"It's hard to imagine someone who has asked for it more than him," Cooper wrote. "[H]e's held multiple in-person, indoor rallies, he's attempted to bully states into ending their containment efforts, he mocked Joe Biden for wearing a mask (and largely refused to wear one in public himself), and on and on."

The editorial board of the Los Angeles Times echoed that assessment, writing that Trump's infection is "the result of his deadly, foolish recklessness." 

"Apparently, Trump managed to even convince himself that the coronavirus was no big deal," the board wrote, "rarely wearing a face mask in public and shamefully mocking those who do." (Face masks, experts have argued, do not protect the wearer from COVID-19 but rather protect others from possible transmission.)

NBC News medical contributor Dr. Vin Gupta said Trump's infection was "avoidable," and that Trump should have been "practicing the proper procedures and not going to these rallies and having these chaotic events, where, of course, airborne exposure was going to happen despite it being in an outdoor setting."

"No masking, no distancing – what did they expect was going to happen?" Gupta added. It is not yet known where Trump contracted the virus and whether or not it was at a campaign rally or event. 

And at CNN, political analyst Julian Zelizer further argued that Trump's allegedly blasé approach to the pandemic was the ultimate cause of his positive diagnosis. 

"As jarring as this moment was, it was also predictable," he wrote. "If you keep exposing yourself to the virus, the odds increase that you will get it, whether you work in the Oval Office or rural Iowa. With so many stories about how the President has not acted carefully with his own staff, the chances were substantial that at some point he would be exposed. That's what happened."

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