‘Trump’s Chernobyl’: Media Wuhan Virus Hysteria Stokes Public Panic

‘Trump’s Chernobyl’: Media Wuhan Virus Hysteria Stokes Public Panic

Not only is it clear that corporate media can't be trusted to provide accurate information about an issue of public concern, it's clear they don’t care about public health or the economy.
Joy Pullmann
By

Since the coronavirus came on the horizon, media figures have been stoking panic, leading to mass shortages of basic health supplies, business travel cancellations, and market drops, all while the confirmed disease number hiked yesterday to around 0.000002 percent of the U.S. population.

So far, U.S. cases of the basic seasonal flu outnumber coronavirus cases by a factor of 45,000 (using federal stats for this year’s flu and real-time tracking of coronavirus confirmations). The flu season has even been especially bad this year, with between 20,000 and 52,000 deaths, compared to 29 so far from coronavirus.

According to infectious disease expert Dr. Paul Carson, who works for the North Dakota public health department, the flu appears to be about five times more contagious than coronavirus, which means containment is possible, although especially for the elderly coronavirus appears to have higher death rates. Especially for the young, however, the flu is still more dangerous than coronavirus in the United States, said the U.S. surgeon general Monday.

Yet did this year’s flu “pandemic” tank the stock market, get members of Congress on the House floor wearing gas masks, cause Americans suffering from the common cold and post-surgery pain to find no relief due to empty shelves at stores, and have the president stampeding to burn untold taxpayer dollars on “economic stimulus” amid decades of federal debt and deficits? No.

As Wuhan virus trickled to U.S. shores, U.S. media have hyped Armageddon to, well, a fever pitch. But so far, the actual health effects have been minimal, while the social and economic effects have been serious. What accounts for the mismatch between hype and reality?

A major factor is open media cheerleading for stock market crashes and economic downturns. Not only is it clear that corporate media can’t be trusted to provide accurate information about an issue of public concern, it’s clear they don’t care about public health or the economy. They care about destroying Trump, and if they have to ruin the U.S. economy to do that, that’s what they’ll do.

On March 9, the “Politico Nightly Coronavirus Special Edition” email’s subject line was “America held hostage by coronavirus.” “The world is drowning itself in hand sanitizer and suffocating itself with fear,” hyperventilated reporters Renuka Rayasam and Sudeep Reddy. Now, why might that be, journos? Well, consider a few examples of what passes for news about a potential public health concern that only appears to matter this much because of the negative effects it could have on a president the media hate.

Washington Post columnist Brian Klaas claimed in a March 9 column, “The coronavirus is Trump’s Chernobyl.”

Chernobyl was the explosion of a nuclear reactor in the Soviet Union. Naturally, the communist government hushed it up and thus people went on with their lives instead of evacuating areas contaminated with radiation. This caused an estimated 9,000 to 16,000 deaths across Europe plus 3.5 million radiation-exposure-attributed cancers, birth defects, and other serious maladies just in nearby Ukraine.

It’s funny that the Washington Post seems to be publishing no articles calling the Wuhan province-originated disease China’s Chernobyl. The comparison is, indeed, a much better fit for China than for the United States. That communist government also kept the existence and spread of the Wuhan virus a secret, which led to tens of thousands more cases than if it had instead acted quickly to prevent the disease’s spread, like the Trump administration, Taiwan, and Hong Kong did. It is the epicenter of the coronavirus, with reportedly more than 80,000 sick and 3,000 dead so far (although China’s numbers are not reliable and likely understated).

It’s clear the Washington Post is more comfortable criticizing the president of their own nation even though his administration’s management of the threat has been far more transparent, immediate, and effective. Possibly there’s a connection between this editorial decision and the fact that the Post has been taking ad money since 2011 to publish literal Chinese communist propaganda disguised as a newsy, China-focused newspaper supplement.

Covering for the Chinese Communist Party’s criminal neglect of its own people seems to be broader than the Post. Here it occurs through their favored moral preen of redefining what constitutes racism. David Gura is a weekend host for MSNBC News and previously worked for NPR.

Then, of course, were the multitude of media comparisons between coronavirus and Hurricane Katrina. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman appeared to not be able to make up his mind whether coronavirus should be messaged as “Trump’s Katrina” or “weapons of mass destruction,” both of which damaged the George W. Bush presidency.

A MSNBC panel last Friday also discussed with anticipation the possibility that coronavirus could be “Donald Trump’s Katrina.”

“I should mention this with a little trepidation, but this may be Donald Trump’s Katrina,” said panelist Eddie Glaude Jr.

“Let’s just lean into that for a minute,” responded MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace. “I mean, Katrina was the moment when all of the things that felt incredibly incompetent about the Bush presidency… were realized. We gave them a proof point that we were indeed incompetent. And also people died. I mean, this has the makings, structurally, for the same kind of moment for President Trump.”

“And if there’s any a moment that would shake that 40 percent — the folks who would allow him to shoot someone right down Fifth Avenue — if there’s any a moment it’s this one,” Glaude responded. “Because it’s babies, it’s friends, it’s loved ones, it’s grand parents, it’s your nana. So it seems to me this is an event that could take down a president.”

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Monday, host Joe Scarborough commented to guest Richard Haas, an editor at the Financial Times, Trump “is unqualified and unfit to be president of the United States. And unfit at one of the most dangerous times this country has seen in, well, I’ll say it, since 9/11. We don’t know where this heads, but we know it gets much, much worse with this president.”

Haas responded, “You mentioned 9/11, Joe. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives. We’re in the early stages of a crisis where, I believe, orders of more magnitude of Americans are in danger. Put that on the table. We’re at a point where the numbers are going to take over.”

As a reminder, 2,977 people were murdered by terrorists on 9/11, the deadliest terror attack in U.S. history. Due to their work digging people out of the rubble, approximately 10,000 first responders developed cancer, from which approximately 2,000 died. This comparison is utterly irresponsible at this point. All this conversation served was to scare the bejeebers out of people, to no good purpose, all for politics.

It is probably no accident that the media’s hysterical representation of what so far is a tiny health problem with the potential to grow — but we don’t know how much — mimics the accusations Democrat presidential candidates were making against Trump just two weeks ago. From Democrats’ lips to the media’s megaphone to a public frenzy in just two weeks.

Wash your hands, keep calm, and carry on, America. And hope the brokers managing your retirement and kids’ college funds are doing the same instead of listening to a bunch of know-nothings telling them to stampede.

Joy Pullmann is executive editor of The Federalist, a happy wife, and the mother of six children. Her newest ebooks are"Classic Books for Young Children" and "32 Classic Games You Can Play Anywhere." @JoyPullmann is also the author of "The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids," from Encounter Books.

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