MEMORY HOLE: What the Media Wants You to Forget About Their Biased Coronavirus Coverage.
Of course, it’s true that conservatives were slow to realize the danger of the coronavirus, and the right more or less turned on a dime when the threat became clear in mid-March. But both the Times and The Daily Show suggest this blindness was one-sided. On the contrary, not only did left-leaning news outlets also minimize the dangers but they also attacked Fox News’s Tucker Carlson and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) when they took the threat seriously.
1. “Too early” to declare a global health emergency
On January 23, NBC News reported the remarks of Didier Houssin, chair of the World Health Organization (WHO) emergency committee. The WHO repeatedly downplayed the threat to the rest of the world, even going so far as to cover for China and focus on stopping the spread of anti-Asian sentiment more than stopping the spread of the virus. Houssin insisted that “it’s too early to consider this event is a public health emergency of international concern.” This report does not show any bias on NBC’s part, but it does illustrate that experts were not concerned at the time.
2. “Don’t be too terribly concerned”
On January 24, NBC News’s medical correspondent Dr. John Torres told viewers, “Don’t be too terribly concerned” about the “Chinese coronavirus” in the U.S. He predicted that “you’re probably going to see a few more cases pop up” but he predicted the virus may drop off quickly as SARS did. Torres also said China was doing an excellent job taking precautions.
3. Worry about the flu
On January 29, the day after Cotton’s appearance on Tucker Carlson’s show, BuzzFeed News ran a story entitled, “Don’t worry bout the coronavirus. Worry about the flu.” BuzzFeed News updated the story on March 16, when it had become clear the coronavirus posed a different kind of danger than the flu.
4. Coronavirus won’t be a “deadly pandemic”
On January 31, Vox published a story predicting that the coronavirus would not be a “deadly pandemic.” The tweet linking to that story has been deleted, and it appears Vox is attempting to scrub the story from the internet. On February 6, Vox published another story telling readers they “shouldn’t panic” but also shouldn’t judge others for panicking.
20. It isn’t that bad
On February 28, The Washington Post published an interview entitled “I have the coronavirus. So far it isn’t that bad.” The interviewer caught the virus on the Diamond Princess, the quarantined cruise ship.
21. “Be more concerned about the flu.”
On March 4, CNN’s Anderson Cooper told viewers to “be more concerned about the flu” than about coronavirus. The Washington Free Beacon compiled a montage of clips from left-leaning media outlets downplaying the virus.