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The New York Times Gets Virus Amnesia

New York Times

Over here at The American Spectator, my colleague Dov Fischer has zeroed in on the game exactly. The title of his piece:

Blame Trump
No vaccine will cure this virus.

In which he opens by saying this:

“It is Trump’s fault. It all is Trump’s fault. It always all is Trump’s fault.”

Bingo. And the latest example of this is this strangely amnesia-riddled article over in the New York Times. The Trump White House has stepped up to point out how the Blame Trump media operates.

Here, on January 29th, is this headline announcement from the White House:

Statement from the Press Secretary Regarding the President’s Coronavirus Task Force

The announcement begins this way:

“Today, President Donald J. Trump announced the formation of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force.  Members of the Task Force have been meeting on a daily basis since Monday.  At today’s meeting, which the President chaired, he charged the Task Force with leading the United States Government response to the novel 2019 coronavirus and with keeping him apprised of developments.”

So what was The New York Times saying that very same day of January 29th? This was The Times headline:

Beware the Pandemic Panic
Coronavirus is scary. How we respond to it may be worse.

The column by Times columnist Farhad Manjoo begins this way:

“Coronavirus is starting to freak me out — not the illness itself but the amped-up, ill-considered way our frightened world might respond to it.

Yes, the novel virus appears to be spreading quickly at the outbreak’s epicenter in the Chinese province of Hubei, but after a late start the Chinese government is now imposing unprecedented measures to contain it. As the World Health Organization declared last week, it remains too early to call the outbreak a global public health emergency.

Memo to The Times? You may have amnesia about your coverage of the virus – the rest of us do not.

So far, the Wuhan coronavirus is not much more frightening than the outbreaks of other recent coronaviruses like SARS in 2003 or MERS in 2012, each of which killed fewer than a thousand people around the world. The new virus’s death toll has just exceeded 130; for context, according to the CDC, about 15 million Americans have been sickened by the seasonal flu so far in the 2019-2020 flu season, and 8,200 have died from it. (The flu kills between 300,000 and 650,000 people around the world annually.)

What worries me more than the new disease is that fear of a vague and terrifying new illness might spiral into panic, and that it might be used to justify unnecessarily severe limits on movement and on civil liberties, especially of racial and religious minorities around the world.”

Got that last line? For The Times it’s always about race. And true to form, two days later President Trump issued his China travel ban. And the response from The New York Times five days later was this headline:

Who Says It’s Not Safe to Travel to China?
The coronavirus travel ban is unjust and doesn’t work anyway.

In which The Times says this:

“Sadly, one doesn’t have to look far for evidence of these top-down decisions morphing into outright racism within the general population, a trend that has a long history in the narrative of outbreaks such as this one.

Coronavirus shares something in common with other kinds of civil disruption, natural disasters or emergencies that affect localized travel industries: Its destructive power lies not in the actual risk but in the perception of that risk. Numerous experts have said that the majority of people who contract coronavirus will experience it as a respiratory infection they will fully recover from. But the extreme reactions — the canceling of flights, closing of borders and level-four travel warnings — seem more appropriate for something much worse.”

Now The Times writes this long hit piece saying this.

He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus
An examination reveals the president was warned about the potential for a pandemic but that internal divisions, lack of planning and his faith in his own instincts led to a halting response.

In which The Times, with breathtaking chutzpah, said that after January 28th it was “six long weeks before President Trump finally took aggressive action to confront the danger the nation was facing.”

Hello? In his State of the Union speech on February 4th the President said this:

“Protecting Americans’ health also means fighting infectious diseases. We are coordinating with the Chinese government and working closely together on the Coronavirus outbreak in China. My Administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat.”

And where was The Times when he said this? As seen here.  Not only the paper have a small platoon of reporters watching the speech.  The Times had a host of their reporters lined up to do a real-time, cyber analysis of the speech as the President spoke. The Times billed their moment-by-moment live coverage this way:

FEB 4, 2020

Full Analysis of Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Speech
President Trump delivered his third formal State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. Our correspondents provided live analysis and fact checks during the speech.

And there they are, chatting and analyzing the speech as the President speaks.  And when he gets to the section of his speech where he talks about the virus and specifically says “My Administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat”? Guess what?

There was not a peep from The Times reporters. They discuss his remarks on the economy, the presidential guests in the gallery and the presence of Rush Limbaugh. They post a “fact check” on the Trump tax cuts and other economic points as he goes along. They talk about Trump points on NAFTA, the introduction of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, military preparedness, the Space Force, drug overdoses, school choice and on…and on and on.

With one notable exception. Again, there was the President saying this:

“Protecting Americans’ health also means fighting infectious diseases. We are coordinating with the Chinese government and working closely together on the Coronavirus outbreak in China. My Administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat.”

And what did The Times reporters have to say about the President drawing attention to the virus?  Or the announcement from several days earlier of the China travel ban and the appointment of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force?

You guessed it: Zip, zero, nada. Not a single word from The Times reporters. There they are live-commenting in print on his speech as he goes along – and they said not a thing.

And now? Now The Times runs this long, Blame Trump hit piece that says, no kidding, this:

He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus

Memo to The Times? You may have amnesia about your coverage of the virus – the rest of us do not.

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