On a rare Friday Late Show, Stephen Colbert noted that those linguistic double-speak assassins at Merriam-Webster have reported a 30 thousand percent increase in internet searches boning up on the term “schadenfreude” in the immediate wake of the early Friday morning announcement that Donald Trump has contracted COVID-19. Now, Colbert could have jumped on the Schadenfreude Express that’s smashed broadside into the Trump Train, considering his undisguised lack of love for Trump. “Like him or not,” Colbert began one sentence of his Late Show monologue, “and for the record—not.” But Colbert, wrapping up an unexpected Friday show (he usually takes the end of the week off), mostly successfully avoided jumping on the “we told you so, you irresponsible, negligent monster” bandwagon. Mostly.
That even though the timeline of just how the COVID virus aerially infiltrated an astounding (and climbing as of press time) number of White House, GOP, and press corps members shows that the Trump administration is just as criminally feckless on the the micro level as its been in allowing over 200,000 Americans to die since this increasingly apocalyptic nightmare began. As Colbert noted in a mordantly comic exercise in contact-tracing (as opposed to the sick joke that is the White House’s complete lack of same), Trump officials knew as far back as Wednesday that Trump advisor Hope Hicks was showing symptoms of the disease as she flew on the enclosed, shared-air test tube with wings that is Air Force One after attending one of Trump’s mask-averse, spittle-flinging hate rallies. And that Trump, finding out about Hicks’ positive test on Thursday morning, decided to both keep that fact secret (because, um, we’ll get back to you on that), and to keep up his daily routine of mocking everyone who chooses to wear a mask and practice social distancing while pressing the by-then infected flesh.
Including at one of Trump’s Caddyshack-esque golf club fundraiser soirées, where, on Thursday—and fully aware of the infectious nature of one of his closest confidants—Trump met, up close and mask-less, with 50 of his richest and most slavering supporters. As Colbert noted, paying, in some cases, over a quarter-million dollars just to have Donald Trump possibly infect you with the disease he hasn’t been taking seriously is the sort of surprise nobody was expecting in their commemorative country club gift bag. Colbert also explained that Trump’s hush-hush policy about that whole “whoopsie, we maybe gave you a deadly infection” situation extended to White House Press Secretary and former Fox News talking, blonde head Kayleigh McEnany, who held her regular Thursday briefing, without a mask, before being told about Hicks. Similarly, as Colbert described him, “friend of the show and enemy of democracy” Chris Christie—who spent four days doing mask-eschewing debate prep alongside Rudy Giulinai of all people—reportedly had to learn about the outbreak on TV. Several members of the White House press corps have also subsequently tested positive for COVID, for courageously doing their jobs, in dutifully reporting on people who consistently order them to take their masks off when asking questions.
And forget about spokes-liars like McEnany and Christie who at least signed a ride-or-literally-die oath to Trump. As Colbert noted with genuine concern, Trump himself may very well have been asymptomatically contagious at Monday’s debate, where almost all of his people stuck to their “masks are for pussies” philosophy in defiance of host Cleveland Clinic’s policies. (Literally everyone involved in that debacle is getting seriously swabbed as we speak.) And despite Democratic nominee and person who wears a mask in public because he’s not a fucking idiot Joe Biden being in what Colbert aptly described as Trump’s “splash zone” having to find out about the potential super-spreader event through news reports. (Former Vice President and Mrs. Biden, along with future Vice President Kamala Harris and husband have so far tested negative, thankfully.)
The same can’t be said of an alarming and hourly multiplying number of GOP officials, all of whom have tested positive for COVID, including Trump and Mrs. Trump, Hicks, Kellyanne Conway (outed by her furious daughter on TikTok), RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, Republican Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Mike Lee (R-UT), several White House staffers, multiple reporters, and the President of Notre Dame, who were all in attendance, coincidentally, at the Rose Garden nomination party of potential Supreme Court justice Amy Coney Barrett last Saturday. Yeah, nobody—including Barrett and her in-attendance children—wore masks. (Checking the news wire: add Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien to the list.)
And if anyone out there is cooking up a conspiracy theory about some sort of comeuppance curse—just because the GOP, attempting to ram through a conservative ideologue in defiance of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s dying wish, appear to be facing some sort of ironic retribution in the form of a disease emanating from the very gathering celebrating noted Affordable Care Act enemy Barrett’s coming out party—well just knock it off. Reality, as Colbert summed things up (showing a clip of the president being airlifted to Walter Reed Medical Center on Marine One) is plenty scary enough without you bringing spooky divine justice into it.
Wear a mask. Don’t be a Republican.