The likes of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and Jim Hoft, publisher of the Gateway Pundit, a conspiratorial, pro-Trump site, have seized on the sibling connection, as have a large number of anonymous Twitter accounts.
“Rod Rosenstein as we all know definitely worked to undermine the Trump administration, which is oddly exactly what his sister is doing by undermining the more logical and calm message the president’s team has issued on the virus,” charged conservative pundit Wayne Dupree in a Wednesday blog post.
Global financial markets have been sliding for several days over concerns about the fallout from the virus, a trend that threatens Trump’s rosy economic message as well as his political future.
Yet there is no evidence that federal health authorities are over-stating the threat of coronavirus to prosecute a political vendetta against Trump, and some conservatives – even as they praised the administration’s response – rushed to defend Messonier.
“I’ve heard people jumping on Nancy Messonnier because she told us the truth: that it’s not a matter of if but when,”Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) told reporters on Wednesday. “Isn’t that what you want to hear instead of some pie in the sky?”
Trump himself — who rose to political prominence by promoting the false idea that Barack Obama was not born in the United States — has aired his own suspicions that mainstream media outlets are sensationalizing the virus and contributing to a plunging stock market. “Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible,” he tweeted on Wednesday morning.
The tweet came after Limbaugh aired fears that the virus was being “weaponized” against Trump on his Monday radio program. He accused the “Drive-By Media” of over-hyping the threat posed by the virus in order to tank financial markets.
“There’s nothing unusual about the coronavirus,” opined Limbaugh, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Trump earlier this month. Limbaugh, who also compared the virus to the “common cold,” followed up on Tuesday by seizing on the Messonnier-Rosenstein connection.
Other Trump supporters, meanwhile, have seized on the crisis to deflect blame to some of the president’s favorite targets: foreign governments and powerful global organizations.
In a January 29 blog post, America First Policies, a pro-Trump nonprofit co-founded by Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, criticized the Chinese Communist Party and the World Health Organization for not doing enough to raise the alarm about the outbreak.
The World Health Organization,” the group wrote, “is a case study of how the Chinese Communist Party infects supposedly apolitical institutions.”