Just because someone said it, you don’t have to quote it: The President Gets COVID-19 Edition

People woke up on Friday to the news that President Trump (among others in the White House traveling crew) had tested positive for the coronavirus. Trump himself tweeted the news out around 1 a.m., thus sending the news world into a frenzy:

I get that everyone was scrambling for sources at 2 a.m. after the president decided to drop this bombshell, but throughout the day, this quote was still being passed around in major stories on the coronavirus revelation:

Former White House doctor Ronny Jackson told Fox News early Friday morning that Trump was asymptomatic and predicted the president would “weather this storm.”

“I will bet you that he does not develop symptoms, that he moves on and this does not become a big deal,” Jackson said.

I have no idea how Jackson came to be a source or why. He hasn’t been attached to the president’s medical staff (or the White House) since 2019. He’s currently running for congress, so I’m sure showing up on TV for any reason he can would be helpful to him, but this paraphrase and quote bugged me for a couple reasons:

  • He’s not currently the guy’s doctor. This is about a half-step better or worse than when a guy is found to be a serial killer and some reporters interview whatever neighbor on his block happened to be watering the lawn that day. Those quotes always start out with, “Well, I didn’t know him real well, but…” and then speculate that the guy had been torturing stuffed animals since he was 3.
  • We don’t know how he knows the president “was asymptomatic.” Trump was tested after Hope Hicks showed symptoms and was found to be positive, so it’s possible. However, Jackson making that statement like he just came from Trump’s bedside seems problematic.
  • The quote. What do you mean “I bet?” Maybe I’m being picky but I don’t want a doctor talking about the potential outcome of a deadly virus the way Troy Aikman talks about the Broncos trying to sign some wide receiver help in the next couple weeks. Also, what gives you the crystal ball that lets you see how this pans out? Trump might be fine. He might be sort of sick. He might be really sick. He might drop dead of this thing after several horrible weeks on a ventilator. Those seem to be the options the all of the folks who become infected deal with. Nobody really knows for sure what’s going to happen. That said, if Doctor Ronny has some special X-Men power that lets him see COVID outcomes, let’s get him on a tour of the hospitals around the country: “Thanks for stopping by, Doc! See you next week!” “No… No… you won’t…”

(UPDATE: Turns out both parts of that paraphrase-quote pairing were wrong, as the president is now at Walter Reed, expected to be hospitalized for several days.)

Just because someone says something, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it’s something you want to quote. If the standard you want to set for quoting people is, “Well, we needed a quote and he was there…” then let me help you out.

Here are quotes you should feel free to use that have the same level of value as the one Dr. Ronny Jackson put forth. To make this easier on you, I’ve even written the paraphrase ahead of the quote, so you can just copy and paste.

Here you go:

Dr. Vincent Filak, who, like Dr. Ronny Jackson, is not treating the president’s illness, said Trump’s condition is likely to worsen before it gets better.

“I bet he saw this coming and planned for it,” Filak said. “I bet he’s going to get really sick in the next two weeks, probably on purpose, so that he can get put on a portable ventilator suit that will bond to him like Doctor Octopus’ exoskeleton thing. He’s probably going to be our first cyborg president.”


Vincent Filak, a professor who once got an A in a botany class, said President Trump understands the value of “herd mentality” when it comes to the virus.

“I bet the president saw Hope Hicks’ illness as an opportunity to get this whole thing over with,” Filak said. “I bet he was on Air Force One telling everyone to lick Hope’s hands. Since Mike Pence would have a problem with that, I’ll bet she did him a solid and just spit in his food.”


If you aren’t covering the president’s coronavirus crisis, but you still need quotes for a story, and you don’t want to bother trying to find a source that has value, here’s a special deal for you as a reader of this blog:

Please feel free to use the contact function and request a paraphrase/quote pairing on anything you’re writing and I will gladly put something ill-conceived and ill-informed together for you right away. I don’t have to know anything about the topic to write my quote.

In fact, the less you tell me, the better the quote is likely to be.

Don’t worry if you are concerned that your readers will think less of you for quoting me, as I’ll make sure to include some true and impressive-sounding background information in the paraphrase. It likely won’t have any bearing on the topic I’m talking about, but then again, neither will the quote.

Here are a few I’ve done recently:

“What do you think has been the secret to Coach Pulizzano’s success?”

Vincent Filak, who watches a lot of sports on TV, said the secret to the coach’s success comes down to hard work.

“I think the coach knows that they have to play them one game at a time,” Filak said. “I bet Coach Pulizzano knows that each player on that team is just happy to be there and hopeful they can help the club.”


Middle school is set up for both hybrid and in school classes. Why are only half the classes camera-ready?

Dr. Vincent Filak, who has extensively written research papers on educational topics, said the presence of cameras in only half of the classes has a logical explanation to it.

“In this unprecedented time of crisis, it is important to think more about what is, than what is not,” Filak said. “You could always look at a glass as being half empty, but I bet more people than not would view it as half full. That is both the genius and the wonder that is the American spirit.”


What impact does the recent rash of thefts of plants and decorations have on neighborhood residents’ morale?

Concerned citizen Vincent Filak said such egregious crimes violate the very spirit of communal living.

“Acts like these have no place in our city, as they only serve to reinforce the outside view that we live in a blighted, urban hellscape,” Filak said. “I bet these are the acts of unsupervised youths, intent on wreaking havoc on the good people of this city. Our only solace might be that when they get home and smoke our spider plants and day lilies, only then will they realize they didn’t steal marijuana.”


My university is implementing guaranteed $10k in FA for HS students who live in the county or graduate from a school in the county. How does cutting tuition for incoming local students benefit currently enrolled local students?

Vincent Filak, an award-winning professor who has taught at multiple universities throughout the Midwest in a career that spans more than 20 years in higher education,  said detractors of the financial aid approach fail to see the bigger picture.

“We have to start somewhere,” Filak said. “As a parent of a child who is not yet in college, I know there are things she could get under this kind of approach, but also things she missed out on because she didn’t start college sooner. Still, we can’t constantly look for places to place blame in a situation like this. It has to start somewhere, and this is where we have drawn our line in the sand and begun the fight for common-sense educational funding.”


Did you really go to that fundraiser knowing you had tested positive for coronavirus?

Dr. Vincent Filak, who is not that kind of doctor nor an official presidential spokesperson, said he understands the concerns people have about the president’s condition and his movements prior to announcing his positive COVID-19 test.

“I bet that the president would have been equally criticized for not going to the fundraiser,” Filak said. “He is constantly in a position of ‘Damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ in every situation. Had he called off the fundraiser, it’s possible the media would be saying, ‘You’re such a quitter.’ Plus, it is unfair to assume what the president knew or didn’t know at any point, given that nobody knows what he knows or doesn’t know, y’know?”

Feel free to join the long list of satisfied journalists who can get stuff done without having to actually work at it!

Operators are standing by to take your request! Act now!

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