Having spent the last month arguing that fear stoked by the media will be far more destructive than the virus itself, I’ve tempered my position and landed in that “two things can be true at once” sweet spot.
Yes it’s absolutely true that the Wuhan Virus is very serious on two dangerously potent fronts: 1) its morbidity and 2) its mortality.
Still concerning with respect to understanding that seriousness: 1) the absence of informed data including how many cases are asymptomatic, the factoring of which will likely dramatically reduce our understanding of the death rate, 2) the respect for flawed data including counting those who died with COVID-19 as definitely having died from COVID-19, and 3) the acceptance of bad data including a. that which the WHO and others are uncritically accepting from Chinese propagandists at face value and b. the Imperial College modeling which has been revised and questioned and explained anew but remains questionably at the fore of policy-making even here in the U.S. by our own revered experts.
Still, there’s no denying the spread of the virus appears serious and the threat to the elderly and immunocompromised is terrifying. So we can stipulate that yes, despite years of enduring the media dishonestly crying “Wolf!”, the Wuhan Virus might truly be a far greater threat than the seasonal virus that many of us — I — initially thought and hoped it would be.
While accepting that reality, we can also note that the U.S. political news media has done everything they can to exploit the virus in pursuit of political carnage they hope to amass by inciting fear, distrust and disunity. A partial list of the media’s bad behavior during this crisis…
1). PRESS BRIEFING SNIPING — Just as they’ve done the last four years, the most celebrated by and among the U.S. political news media — even now, during a time of crisis — are wasting everyone’s time in press briefings by trying to score cheap political points instead of probing for valuable information amid good faith journalistic professionalism. It’s been well-documented on too many occasions to count and you only need to tune in one time to see it: the biggest names from the most well-heeled outlets (e.g. Peter Alexander of NBC, Jim Acosta of CNN, Yamiche Alcindor of PBS) aren’t asking helpful questions in the public interest. They’re trying to play “Gotcha!” in an effort to make President Trump and his team look bad and, with any luck, turn on each other instead of forging ahead as a united front against the invisible enemy that threatens us all.
2). PROMULGATION OF FAKE NEWS — From dishonestly claiming President Trump called the Wuhan Virus a “hoax” (he didn’t) to claiming it’s racist to refer to a virus by its geographic origin (it isn’t) to insisting President Trump was slow to respond (enacting the China travel ban way back on January 29th, he wasn’t) and not only accepting but celebrating and even weaponizing Chinese propaganda so it can be used to make America look bad, the U.S. political news media has at every turn done everything they can to lie to the American people and exacerbate our greatest fears and most fragile insecurities. They’re not reporting in good faith to help the public through this difficult time. They’re lying repeatedly and constantly to stoke yet more fear and division.
3). ROOTING FOR THE ENEMY — As they’ve spent years doing however unwittingly as useful idiots for Russia helping to sow disunity, distrust and discord; and as they did when they sided with Iran and called President Trump a war criminal for killing the world’s most notorious terrorist; the U.S. political news media has repeatedly celebrated clearly fabricated Chinese propaganda so they can use it to attack and attempt to discredit President Trump and his team. They’ve deemed it racist to even mention where the virus originated. And they can barely contain their enthusiasm while reporting the virus’s spread. The U.S. political news media are aggressively protecting China from blame while promoting its communist propaganda, and at the same time celebrating each morbid milestone because they see this crisis as an opportunity to attack President Trump. Pick your enemy: be it the Chinese government responsible for the virus’s spread or the virus itself, there’s no denying the unfortunate reality that the U.S. political news media appears to be cheering for both.
4). EXCLUSIVELY ANTI-TRUMP REPORTING — Of course, finally, you’ll be hard pressed to find a single story or narrative anywhere in the U.S. political news media that isn’t characterized from an entirely anti-Trump perspective. This is what they do. As noted in previous pieces, “fake news” is less about the absence of fact and more about the prominence of partisan characterizations. And every angle of every story, every minute of every day, is told from decidedly anti-Trump perspectives. The media spent all of January pushing impeachment and all of February crying that it didn’t go their way. Meanwhile, in the midst of all that nonsense, President Trump took the extraordinary action to ban all travel from China in light of the virus’s threat. At the same time, media darlings like Nancy Pelosi were out there encouraging citizens to pack bars and restaurants as retaliation against President Trump’s “RACIST!” travel ban. The media claim they attack President Trump because it’s their job to hold the powerful to account. Well Nancy Pelosi is pretty powerful. Chuck Schumer is pretty powerful. Bill De Blasio is no slouch in terms of wielding power. And yet these Democrats always manage to escape the media’s scrutiny but for passing mentions, if that. It’s only President Trump, literally every minute of every day, who they attack. They don’t report. They don’t probe. They don’t speak truth to power. They attack, and they do so not for public interests but exclusively political ones. And it’s obvious to anyone who’s paying attention. And that’s why President Trump’s approval for handling the Wuhan Virus crisis is a net 33 points higher than the disgraced and discredited media’s.
So while the Wuhan Virus has absolutely earned our reverence, adherence to responsible mitigation and prayerfulness — the media has at the same time earned every shred of shaming, scrutiny and scorn for having worked so hard to transform the virus into a political weapon that they can use against President Trump.
AUTHOR’S NOTE / SIDEBAR: It always irks me when I hear someone in the media say “two things can be true at once.” It takes me back to their intellectually dishonest and unfair pile on of Kellyanne Conway when she correctly noted the existence of “alternative facts.” It was so lazy and mean, but then again that’s how the media — scratching and clawing to survive — operate today. When Conway referenced “alternative facts” she was basically saying “two things can be true at once” but because Chuck Todd and the rest of the media’s mean girls saw an opportunity to viciously attack someone with whom they disagree politically, they pounced.
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