When polls showed that President Donald Trump was receiving unusually high marks for his handling of the Coronavirus pandemic, the first stage of grief the media went through was denial:
The political media have been working extremely hard to craft a narrative that the spread of the coronavirus was essentially the fault of the man they had blamed for all other ills in recent years. How could the people not accept that narrative, particularly considering that most everyone in the media was pushing it?
Things got worse when additional polls showed Trump receiving high ratings at the same time that the media received poor ratings. A brand new Gallup study — “Coronavirus Response: Hospitals Rated Best, News Media Worst” — was particularly bad news. When Americans were asked about nine different institutions and political leaders, they gave majority approval to all but the media. President Trump has a 22-point net approval rating while the media’s net approval rating was negative 11 points. The RealClearPolitics approval average for Trump was its highest during his entire presidency.
In response, the media were angry and depressed and began blaming his press conferences. Their theory seemed to be that the more Americans saw Trump, unfiltered, they liked him and the more Americans saw the behavior of the media, they didn’t like it. This flies in the face of what many in the media assumed for years. They pushed for daily White House press conferences so that they could have the opportunity to be on camera and pressure the Trump administration. Now that they had daily press briefings with the president, no less, they weren’t happy. It was a weird response for a group of people whose ostensible job is to simply report the news of the day.
This New York Times reporter began disparaging the public health briefings featuring some of the country’s top medical professionals:
Within a few days the groupthink had firmly spread. Suddenly addressing the American people day after day — the very thing the media had demanded for years — was a dangerous departure from norms:
An example of what they called a lie was Trump’s discussion of a potential treatment for those infected with the coronavirus. The proposed treatment has not gone through extensive clinical trials for the Wuhan coronavirus in particular, although it well established in use for malaria patients and many doctors are hoping to continue its use for the novel coronavirus. While New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is so bullish on the treatment that he authorized its use in his state, he has not received any criticism from the media. The absurdity of claiming that Trump was lying about this promising treatment plan was topped by the media blaming Trump when one individual seeking to prevent infection ingested fish tank cleaner because it contained similar ingredients.
Here an “All Things Considered” host at a public radio station funded by tax dollars, had this considered response:
After spending months demanding that the White House reinstate press conference, they are now demanding he shut them down as his performance is going better than theirs.
The Washington Post, whose tagline is “Democracy Dies In Darkness,” demanded that the lights on the presidential press briefings be turned off.
Margaret Sullivan: "The media must stop live-broadcasting Trump's dangerous, destructive coronavirus briefings." https://t.co/N19l2M2Qpr
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 22, 2020
While Americans might not appreciate the media censoring the public health briefings, Sullivan had one fan in Communist China. Lijian Zhao, the spokesperson & Deputy Director General of the Information Department in communist China’s Foreign Ministry retweeted MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin, who had tweeted out in support of Sullivan’s censorship plan:
Ted Koppel told the New York Times, “Training a camera on a live event, and just letting it play out, is technology, not journalism; journalism requires editing and context.”
While it’s true that good journalists will provide context, that’s precisely what’s been missing in their histrionic and sensationalized coverage of this global pandemic. They share aggregate numbers to inflame passions, they highlight poor performing hospitals and blame the coronavirus, even though the same hospitals were overwhelmed previously, they peddle faulty models that incite horrific panic.
What the media instead are realizing is that they have lost control over the filtering that they are used to providing. They seek to spin the news rather than simply show it and report it. And they justify their bias as being part of a higher calling in the journalism profession as opposed to a glaring failure.
The media that was able to push impeachment while the coronavirus spread throughout the world, that claimed concerns about it were racist, and that attempts to control its spread were xenophobic, now wants even more control over the message. Their plan to keep Americans in the dark about what the country’s top political and medical officials say unless it is filtered through a group of people who botched the 2016 campaign, the Russia collusion narrative, and the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing is a demonstration of something very dangerous.
They don’t want to report the news. They want to control it. That is damaging and destructive to their own already hurting reputations but, more importantly, to public health itself.