One of the most bizarre conspiracy theories to bubble up recently is the idea that Donald Trump may have faked his COVID diagnosis. (Why, exactly, he would do that isn’t clear.) CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King on Tuesday hinted that she might be joining the conspiracy crowd.
Talking to 2020 Democratic contender Pete Buttigieg about his new book Trust, King insisted that she’s getting calls from “Democrats and Republicans” about the paranoid idea: “It’s so interesting that I’ve gotten calls from both Democrats and Republicans, Pete, who asked this question when the President first became ill, ‘Do you really think he was ill?’”
Citing the anonymous “many people” who wonder this, she added: “I was shocked so many people were asking that question. What does that say about trust? You write in your book, ‘Society works best when people trust.’ What happens when people can’t trust?”
Earlier in the segment, Tony Dokoupil disingenuously described Buttigieg’s 2020 court packing scheme as “not court packing.”
One of the issues that did come up in the presidential debate from a couple of weeks ago was whether Joe Biden wants to expand the Supreme Court. And he didn’t answer the question. But you’re an interesting person on this subject because you have supported a plan to add justices so it’s 15. It’s not court packing, it’s a little bit more complicated than that. But given your support for expanding the Court, and given that it was an issue in the last debate, I’m curious, could we see an answer tomorrow night to that question?
Credit to Dokoupil for actually raising Biden’s evasion on court packing, but that’s exactly what Pete Buttigieg also supported. Here’s The Hill from October 15, 2019: “Buttigieg defends court-packing proposal at Democratic debate.” Apparently The Hill didn’t get the talking points memo from CBS.
NBC News described Buttigieg’s plan this way:
Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has talked about his plan to overhaul the high court since his first days as a candidate. In short, it calls for expanding the number of justices from nine to 15, with five affiliated with Democrats, five affiliated with Republicans, and five apolitical justices chosen by the first 10.
There may be some nuance here, but the former 2020 contender’s plan is court packing. Just another reason to question what fellow Democrat Biden’s plans really are, should he be elected.
The kooky conspiracy theories and Democratic talking points were sponsored by Xfinity and Capital One.
A partial transcript is below. Click “expand” to read more.
CBS This Morning
815 AM ET
TONY DOKOUPIL: Pete Buttigieg is keeping busy after his Democratic presidential run. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana was spotted just yesterday in the lobby of a hotel where Senator Kamala Harris is preparing for her vice presidential debate tomorrow. He is reportedly playing Vice President Mike Pence in those preparations. Reportedly. Buttigieg is also on Joe Biden’s transition advisory board and he has been working at The university of Notre Dame. On top of that during his down time he’s written a book, Trust: America’s Best Chance. Mayor, Buttigieg joins us now. Mayor, good morning to you. You’re in Salt Lake City now. You’re from South Bend. Are you there for the skiing or something else?
DOKOUPIL: You’re a skilled debater yourself. So I’m curious what you think the strengths of Vice President Pence are as a debater and how Senator Harris is preparing to meet those strengths?
PETE BUTTIGIEG: Well, the truth is he’s a very effective debater. I’ve seen him debating for governor and debating for vice president as well. He has an ability to deliver lines with a high degree of confidence, whether they’re true or not. But of course saying something with a straight face doesn’t make it true, and what’s going to be really important, I think, is for Americans to really see the difference between a message from an administration that doesn’t seem to want to face reality and the Biden/Harris campaign represented by Senator Harris talking about what it will actually take to con front this pandemic that’s now killed more than 200,000 Americans and that the White House seems to still be in denial about even with the President getting sick.
BUTTIGIEG: If the Vice President wanders from the truth, as you say, how will Senator Harris respond?
DOKOUPIL: One of the issues that did come up in the presidential debate from a couple of weeks ago was whether Joe Biden wants to expand the Supreme Court. And he didn’t answer the question. But you’re an interesting person on this subject because you have supported a plan to add justices so it’s 15. It’s not court packing, it’s a little bit more complicated than that. But given your support for expanding the Court, and given that it was an issue in the last debate, I’m curious, could we see an answer tomorrow night to that question?
BUTTIGIEG: Well, I think what we’re going to see tomorrow night is a conversation about what’s at stake right now. We’ve got less than 30 days until the election and a matter of weeks before the court may entertain a case that could decide whether pre-existing care — pre-existing coverage is taken away from millions of Americans as Republicans try to overthrow the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. I think those really urgent questions are going to command the most attention because this is a nomination, a real life nomination. Not a theoretical exercise that could be coming in front of the Senate in matter of days.
KING: It’s so interesting that your book is coming out at this time. What’s the name of your book again?
KING: I see it behind you. That was an attempt at humor. It’s so interesting that I’ve gotten calls from both Democrats and Republicans, Pete, who asked this question when the President first became ill, “Do you really think he was ill?” I was shocked so many people were asking that question. What does that say about trust? You write in your book, “Society works best when people trust.” What happens when people can’t trust?
KING: You say the highest compliment you can pay a friend is “I trust you with my life.” I think that’s a very short list for people. Trust is easily broken but it can be rebuilt. Seems like that’s needed now.
DOKOUPIL: Mr. Mayor, trust has many enemies, one of them is lies. Secrets don’t help either. Particularly when they don’t seem to be that consequential. So, I am curious, why not say whether or not you’re playing the Vice President in these mock debates to prepare Senator Harris?
KING: Yeah. Good question, Tony Dokoupil. What do you say, Pete Buttigieg?
BUTTIGIEG: Look, I’m not going to talk out of school, but I am very excited for tomorrow night.
KING: We’re going to take that as a yes.
DOKOUPIL: We’ll take that as a non-denial confirmation.
KING: A lot of people will be watching. Many people thought, “VP debate who will be watching?” This one seems to have been taking on a different tone, would you agree?