On more than one occasion, President Donald Trump has expressed his eagerness to prematurely end the COVID-19 shutdown and restart the economy. “I want to get it open as soon as possible,” he told reporters in a press briefing last week, adding that on Tuesday, April 14, he will announce an “opening our country” task force that will be comprised of doctors and business leaders. As of this writing, the list of officials has not yet been announced. However, Fox News released a list of potential members of the task force on Monday that triggered a blaze of satirical internet memes questioning the qualifications and integrity of the candidates.
According to Fox’s report, the task force is expected to be chaired by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and to include members of Trump’s Cabinet like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Labor Secretary Gene Scalia, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Also in its projected task force is acting chair of the Council of Economic Advisors Tom Philipson and White House advisers Larry Kudlow, Peter Navarro, and Chris Liddell.
But what flamed the controversy online even further was Fox’s projection that the task force will also include two of Trump’s family members, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
A Fox graphic that displayed seven leading potential members of Trump’s new task force — Meadows, Ivanka, Kushner, Munchin, Kudlow, Lighthizer, and Ross — has quickly become the blueprint for dozens of satirical reactions criticizing the president’s choice of experts, which skews towards business-friendly conservative politicians rather than “great doctors,” as he promised on Friday.
A strain of memes replaces the portraits of these officials with images of pop culture villains like Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs, Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons, Disney’s Scrooge McDuck, Heather Chandler from Heathers, and King Joffrey from Game of Thrones, among others.
One Twitter user, Rob Sheridan, replaced all of the officials’ portraits with images of sharks, referencing the film Jaws with a caption that says, “officials on the council to re-open Amity Beach.”
Democratic strategist Travis Akers retweeted Fox’s graphic of the officials asking his followers to “name this band.” Suggestions in the thread included Public Enemy, Rage in Favor of the Machine, MAGAdeath, Greed Day, and Wrong Direction.
Meanwhile, Trump is engaged in a power struggle with New York governor Andrew Cuomo over the authority to reopen businesses. While Cuomo argued that the decision lies in the hands of governors, Trump proclaimed that his presidential authority is “total.”