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‘It is what it is’: Trump slammed for 'disgraceful' response to Covid-19 deaths, how did the phrase originate?

Asked about USA's Covid-19 death toll during an interview, Trump answered, 'They are dying. That's true. And you -- it is what it is'
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

President Donald Trump is in the news yet again, and quite predictably so for all the wrong reasons. In an interview with Axios on HBO that aired on August 3 night, the POTUS stated that USA's staggering coronavirus death toll "is what it is." He praised his administration for its response despite ongoing surges in new cases and a human toll that far outpaces that of any other nation, according to a CNN report.

During the interview, Jonathan Swan prodded Trump that he visited his rallies and the fact that he has said that "everything’s under control and don’t worry about wearing masks" is worrisome since many of his followers are older people. A seemingly defensive Trump answered saying, "Well, what's your definition of control?" while adding, “I think it's under control." Swan further asked, "How? A thousand Americans are dying a day." To which Trump’s replied, "They are dying. That's true. And you -- it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it."

The country has recorded more than 156,700 deaths and over 4.75 million cases of Covid-19 as of Aug 4 night, according to Johns Hopkins University tracker. Worldwide, there have been more than 698,000 deaths and 18.4 million cases.

Twitter as usual had a field day in expressing their frustration over the current President’s statements. One wrote: "Truly disgraceful, and the words of a psychopath. #ItIsWhatItIs."


Another said, "Who else thinks only a psychopath would say #ItIsWhatItis to over 150,000 deaths on his watch?"


The handle @ReallyAmerican1 put out a video showing the grim situation in the USA due to coronavirus. 


People reacting to the video said, "160k dead & what does @realDonaldTrump have to say about it? #ItIsWhatItIs .@ReallyAmerican1
highlighting the single worst thing about this man. He doesn’t care about other people. No empathy. No sympathy. Just “it is what it is.” #EndTheNightmare."


Another wrote: "Sorry @realDonaldTrump, but you’re going to go to jail for bank and insurance fraud. It is what it is. #itiswhatitis"


One expressed, "Someday, tragedy may befall the Trump family too. And when they turn to the world for empathy and understanding, what's the ONLY thing we should say to them? As flippantly as Trump told the families of those who needlessly died from COVID? '#ItIsWhatItIs'." 


As per, while a generic definition of the term 'it is what it is' means ‘deal with it’, their research shows according to the New York Times, that the phrase appeared as early as a 1949 article by JE Lawrence in The Nebraska State Journal. Lawrence used the phrase when describing the difficulty faced during frontier-era life in Nebraska: “New land is harsh, and vigorous, and sturdy. It scorns evidence of weakness. There is nothing of sham or hypocrisy in it. It is what it is, without apology.”

According to the website, the phrase became popular in the 21st Century and a 2004 USA Today article by Gary Mihoces, titled “It is what it is,” pointed out that the phrase was popular in describing losses in sports. Mihoces cited over a dozen examples of athletes and coaches using the phrase in that year alone, according to the website.

The website also states that in 2004 former President George W Bush had used the phrase in 2004 as mentioned in the New York Times article. This was Bush’s response to an aide telling him his opponent John Kerry was leading the polls with, “It is what it is.”