In this file photo taken on September 21, 2020 US President Donald Trump speaks to the media prior to departing from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, as he travels to Ohio(Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)
Contradictory and incomplete information from officials since the president contracted coronavirus confirms that the health of the White House incumbent is a well-kept secret.
Analysts also say Trump has displayed a savvy use of digital tools to try to steer coverage of the first major presidential health crisis of the social media age.
Since the Friday announcement of Trump’s positive test, his personal doctor Sean Conley has been accused of giving fragmented and confusing information that conflicted with what Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was saying.
According to Matthew Algeo, the author of several books about the recurring lies of US leaders, presidents are not compelled to be forthcoming about their health, so it’s no surprise if they are not.
“We just basically are operating on the honour system when it comes to our president’s health,” he said.
With Trump’s reelection bid less than a month away, now is not the time to look less than fully fit, analysts say.
“Presidents hate to look weak, all politicians hate to look weak. They’ll do anything to avoid that,” said Algeo.
Rose McDermott, a specialist in the health of American presidents at Brown University, says the fact that a president’s doctor is generally also a serviceman — in Conley’s case, a Navy officer — is “structurally” conflict of interest.
“He’s both the president’s doctor, and the president is also his commander in chief,” she said.
“Which means that if the president doesn’t like what he says about him, he can fire him… and he can do things like take away his pension.”