President Trump’s order to halt all travel from China on January 31, for example, was met with hollers of xenophobia from the loudest corners of mainstream media. Those cries have since been memory-holed — quite literally, in some cases (Vox) — but it’s worth revisiting the where the worst actors in media stood when this pandemic started. In fact, it was the very next day after Trump’s executive order that mainstream media outlets published stories downplaying the threat as merely another xenophobic reaction to foreigners, just like they’ve done with Trump’s position on immigration at the southern border.
The night that President Trump issued his order, Vox tweeted, ‘Is this going to be a deadly pandemic? No.’ That tweet was then deleted with a correction earlier this week. Lenny Bernstein at the Washington Post wrote on January 31, ‘Get a grippe [sic], America. The flu is a much bigger threat than Coronavirus, for now.’ The next day, the Washington Post published an op-ed titled, ‘Past epidemics prove fighting coronavirus with travel bans is a mistake.’ In what appeared to be a full court press against the president’s order, the paper published another piece on January 31, ‘How our brains make coronavirus seem scarier than it is.’ On February 3, they hit us with another op-ed headlined, ‘Why we should be wary of an aggressive government response to coronavirus’, arguing it would lead to more stigmatization of marginalized populations.
In similar fashion, we saw this appearance by LaToya Cantrell who was on CNN to discuss the issue of her city dealing with its outbreak of the coronavirus. There was a spike in cases in the New Orleans area following the annual Mardi Gras parade, and the surrounding events. In being asked about this Cantrell had a handy excuse; President Trump is to blame.
Just so we are clear, the Mayor of New Orleans is blaming the president for her not acting as the Mayor of New Orleans. The amazing part of her delusion is how she launches into a long diatribe about ”leadership”, all while discussing something that transpired as a result of her lack of leadership.
And, of course, Wolf Blitzer lets her comments stand, not even considering the possibility of challenging her on not taking action on an extremely local event that is fully under her purview. When a mayor can brazenly declare that a completely municipal activity is not at all her responsibility and not have the news anchor even come up with a follow-up question, we are presented with all of the proof that they have no curiosity towards looking into facts.
This continues apace with the press during this crisis. It is why polls are now showing that public approval with our media complex is continuing to plunge.
Mardi Gras was on February 25, and the partying starts at least two weeks earlier in New Orleans, a period when Trump’s travel ban was still considered racist and xenophobic by the news media. Oh, and speaking of which: [Local] “Health official says risk of coronavirus in New Orleans is ‘very, very low’ but warns of flu cases,” the New Orleans Gambit, part of the The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate group of publications, reported on February 26th.