President Donald Trump downplayed the magnitude of coronavirus during the onset of the pandemic to keep Americans from panicking and going "crazy," Bill O'Reilly told Newsmax TV.
"Donald Trump said to Bob Woodward on tape, 'I played it down, the virus' – well, that means different things to Donald Trump than it does to the people who hate him," O'Reilly told Thursday's "Greg Kelly Reports."
"Donald Trump was trying to say – and he's never exact in his words, and that has hurt him, dramatically – he was trying to say, 'I just didn't want to get everybody crazy. I thought we could deal with it on a level where it didn't have to destroy the economy.' That was uppermost in his mind. Don't destroy the stock market. Don't destroy the infrastructure of the American economy."
O'Reilly's words echo what Trump said Wednesday when he told reporters during a press briefing, "You cannot show a sense of panic," referring to his reluctance to excite Americans about coronavirus earlier this year.
O'Reilly said the president's sense of calm at that key moment staved off what could have been a massive financial downfall.
"The stock market did not collapse, and millions of Americans who were invested in their IRAs, 401Ks, college funds, didn't lose their money because there wasn't a panic, where there absolutely could have been had Trump got up to the podium and said, 'We're all going to die. I don't know what to do,'" O'Reilly said.
"Do you think anybody, with any cognitive ability, would lie consciously about a virus when they know they're going to get caught in the lie," O'Reilly added. "You'd get up there and try to mislead everybody on purpose when you know the truth is going to come out. That's just suicide!"