Did Garth Brooks Actually Endorse Trump’s Coronavirus Response?

Did Garth Brooks Actually Endorse Trump’s Coronavirus Response?

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It’s harder than ever to tell the difference between fact and fiction. With so much disinformation and politicization of public health issues, it’s difficult to know who to trust. Maybe that’s why Donald Trump ordered hundreds of millions of dollars in celebrity-sponsored ads about the pandemic.

$300 Million to ‘Defeat Despair’

On paper, this ad campaign–which cost about $300 million in taxpayer money–is meant to “defeat despair” about Covid-19. The campaign itself is already drawing significant criticism online. Critics demand to know why Trump is raiding the CDC’s coffers for ad funding instead of using that money for research or PPE. Others question whether these ads are intended to bolster the president’s polling number ahead of the election. After all, the majority of Americans agree that Trump has badly bungled the coronavirus response, and it’s possible that he hopes the endorsement of celebrities will help his reelection campaign.

But did the celebrities in question know what they were signing up for? Politico broke the news late last week, with journalist Dan Diamond doing a deep dive in what described as a “highly unusual advertising campaign.

“Senior administration officials have already recorded interviews with celebrities like actor Dennis Quaid and singer CeCe Winans, and the Health and Human Services Department also has pursued television host Dr. Mehmet Oz and musician Garth Brooks for roles in the campaign,” Diamond reported.

Social Media Backlash

It’s not clear if they were successful in pursuing Dr. Oz and Garth Brooks. However, they’ve both been mercilessly dragged on Twitter since Diamond’s article dropped. They, along with actor Dennis Quaid and gospel singer CeCe Winans, are the only celebrity names on the list.

Winans has since clarified that she agreed only to sit down in conversation with Surgeon General Jermone Adams. She says that her comments should not be construed as political.

Many of the tweets accused Brooks of being a secret Trump supporter, despite he and wife Trisha Yearwood’s liberal leanings in the past. Quite a few people made the joke that Brooks has “friends in low places,” referencing one of his most popular songs. Others immediately vowed to stop watching Dennis Quaid’s movies or mocking the actor for doing anything for money. One Twitter user wrote, “Ask anyone in Hollywood: Dennis Quaid will eat a porcupine on television for money.”

However, Quaid took to Instagram in a video post he titled “NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED” to set the record straight. Quaid says that he was not paid for his taped interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci. The actor believed he was filming a PSA “about raising awareness of COVID-19 and what we can still do to prevent lives being lost to this terrible, terrible virus. It was about the importance of wearing a mask and social distancing.”

Quaid blames the “cancel culture media” for distorting the truth about the video he filmed. “I am really disappointed that some people who call themselves legitimate reporters don’t do their homework,” he said in the video.

What Really Happened?

But perhaps there are actually two issues here. The first is whether these celebrities agreed to sit down with public health figures for a series of PSAs. Both Quaid and Winans claimed that they spoke about the pandemic in a non-political way. They wanted to raise awareness about the importance of social distancing and mask wearing. We know that Quaid and Winans did have those conversations on video within the last month. We don’t know if Garth Brooks and Dr. Oz, or any other celebrities for that matter, also participated.

And it’s true that Quaid had previously spoken on the record about the president’s performance during the pandemic. Last spring, he told The Daily Beast that “no matter what anybody thinks of him, [Trump] is doing a good job at trying to get these states—and all of the American people—what they need, and also trying to hold our economy together and be prepared for when this is all over.”

But that’s clearly not the whole story. These celebrities may have filmed videos with one intention in mind, but it appears that the footage is being used in a different way than they intended. This ad campaign, hastily assembled at the order of the president, according to health department spokesperson Michael Caputo, appears to have a clear political motivation. Once again, the public is left to figure the truth for themselves. In the meantime, wear a mask.