When you have a leader who constantly spews lies and misinformation into the public sphere, you must savor the small victories. So it was on Friday morning, when President Trump made what would have been an unremarkable statement for almost any public official, past or present.
The president’s endorsement of vaccines, which comes as the U.S. is experiencing its worst measles outbreak in decades, is notable because of Trump’s history of conspiratorial thinking on the subject. In the years leading up to his presidential run, he tweeted several times to advance the long-debunked notion that vaccines are linked with autism.
And in a 2015 GOP debate, he said, “Autism has become an epidemic … I am totally in favor of vaccines. But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time.”
Perhaps even more troublingly, Trump flirted with appointing notorious anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to a vaccine-study commission shortly after he took office, before pulling the plug on that disastrous idea.
Vaccine skepticism is likely a prominent factor behind the current American outbreak, which is up to almost 700 cases. So it’s nice to know that while the most powerful man on earth may still not believe in climate change or the legitimacy of American elections, he’s not actively promoting the spread of a highly infectious disease. Again, small victories.