They don’t really care who hears them anymore.

Courtesy of The Daily Beast

The shocking announcement that President Donald Trump has contracted the coronavirus was promptly followed by well-wishes from the Kremlin. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday sent President Trump a telegram, wishing a speedy recovery to the U.S. president and the first lady. According to a Kremlin readout of the telegram, Putin wrote, “I am sure that your inherent vitality, good spirits and optimism will help you cope with the dangerous virus.”

Discussing Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, Evgeny Popov, the host of Russian state media news talk show 60 Minutes, said, “Our candidate got sick.” His co-host Olga Skabeeva reminded the viewers that Trump is in a high-risk group, due to being elderly and overweight. Referring to former Vice President Joe Biden, Popov added, “The other one may get sick too.”

The hosts and panelists of 60 Minutes briefly discussed the possibility that Trump faked the coronavirus results in order to get out of additional debates with Biden, having resoundingly failed in the first round. They dismissed that conspiracy theory out of hand, believing that Americans traditionally don’t vote for sick candidates and illness would be much worse for Trump than being defeated in another debate.

As a case-in-point, 60 Minutes proceeded to showcase a compilation of various instances when Trump mocked and hounded Hillary Clinton, then a Democratic candidate for president, for her real and perceived ailments. In 2016, the Russian state media was very actively promoting various claims of medical issues allegedly plaguing Clinton. Hosts and panelists of the program concurred that those claims successfully transformed Clinton into a “lame duck” as a presidential candidate.

The participants of 60 Minutes didn’t limit themselves to well-wishes and kindest regards. Deputy of the State Duma Aleksey Zhuravlyov smugly noted, “I’m glad that COVID got involved in the presidential race and it will most likely win. Not Joe Biden or Trump, but COVID will win.” Popov pondered out loud, “So we’ve been interfering and interfering, but all of that was for naught?”

It should be pointed out that some of this is clearly tongue in cheek.

However, it also seems clear to me that the Russians feel comfortable making statements like this that they know will get picked up by the American media because thus far none of Trump’s ties with Russia have seemed to do him any harm. 

I think they are only pretending to joke about this, while in actuality speaking a truth that they believe no longer needs to be kept secret.